Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hope for a child living with HIV

By Navy Kieng

Sampho (not his real name) reads his text book during class.
©UNICEF Cambodia/ 2016/Navy Kieng

Sampho*, 11, is a young boy living with HIV. Sampho’s parents died in 2010 and he now lives with his great grandparents and the family of his aunt in Cambodia’s north eastern Kratie province. There are 11 people in his family and they all depend on his aunt and uncle who are construction workers. The young boy is in grade 5 at a local primary school near his home.

Sampho is a happy boy who does well in school. “I want to be a medical doctor,” he said.

“He is a good student, intelligent, brave and friendly,” his teacher, Ms. Tep Thida, said.

Once each month, Sampho goes to the provincial hospital with his grandmother or his aunt for regular medical follow up and to receive antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

UNICEF provides support for transport costs and he regularly joins the activities of Friends Helping Friends, known as ‘mmm’ meetings for health education and consultations. When he is waiting for his appointment and treatment at the hospital, Sampho enjoys reading books and playing with toys in the hospital’s playground, which is also sponsored by UNICEF.

Sampho and his parents were all diagnosed with HIV. It has been nearly one year for Sampho, and he takes medicine regularly without needing to be reminded by his family. He understands the benefits of taking medicine and he loves his life.

“Without support for the treatment and counselling, I would have been very ill or died,” he said.

Sampho’s classmates like him and play with him without prejudice or discrimination. Once a year, he receives support from his school in the form of study materials and clothing. He also received a bicycle from the school committee so he could get to school easily.

In his free time, Sampho usually does some house work, such as carrying water to fill a jar, taking care of his great grandmother and doing his school work.

Sampho’s grandfather, Mr Try*, 87, cares deeply for his family.

“I am very happy to see Sampho lives healthily and studies hard to make a good grade. Though my family is poor, I try to support his study as much as I can and we welcome extra support for him because I am now so old that I cannot live longer with him,” Mr Try said.

“Because we are too old we do not have any income. We depend on the income of Sampho’s aunt and support from some neighbours.”

Mr Try said that the support Sampho receives for his travel costs to the hospital has allowed him to receive treatment regularly and participate in mmm meetings to learn about healthcare and engage with his peers.

“We are happy he can share the experiences among families of other children living with HIV,” he said.

*Names changed to protect identity

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