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September 29, 2022

Weaving Her Way to a Better Future

Pendo (right) with her mother (middle) and her sister (left) in a group photo at their home. Photo Credit: Pact/Aidan Tarimo
Pendo (right) with her mother (middle) and her sister (left) in a group photo at their home. Photo Credit: Pact/Aidan Tarimo

Pendo Francis Mbinda is a 14-year-old girl living with HIV. At 13, Pendo and her sister were deserted by their mother. The situation affected her school attendance and health improvement because of lack of food and poor Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) uptake. Due to the desertion and inability to pay rent, Pendo and her sister were forced to go and live with their uncle. However, this was not the end to her sufferings as she faced stigma from her uncle’s wife.

Happy is the Community Case Worker (CCW) who has been supporting Pendo’s household through  ACHIEVE – a five-year (2019-2024) USAID-funded global project whose primary goal is to reach and sustain HIV epidemic control among pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescents, infants, and children. The CCW visited Pendo following referrals provided by the Health Facility Worker at the Care and Treatment Center  (CTC).

After learning Pendo’s poor uptake of ART, Happy decided to refer her to the Social Welfare services and facilitated Clinical Home visits. From the Social Welfare visit, Pendo’s uncle revealed that his marriage was on the verge of collapse due to the presence of Pendo and her sister. The uncle believed that, to save his marriage, Pendo and her sister needed to leave his home. The Social Worker managed to get Pendo’s mother’s mobile number and contacted her. She briefed the mother on her daughters’ ordeal. In late 2021, Pendo’s mother came back to join her family.

Both Pendo and her mother live with HIV, and they learned about their status in 2018. Elizabeth Joshua Seleman is Pendo’s mother, and she noted the contribution of the Community Case Worker and Social Worker in reuniting her family and promoting their wellbeing.

Alongside Pendo and her mother, Prisca (Pendo’s sisters) also benefited from their households’ visits. “I have also learned how to support and take care of the people living with HIV/AIDS. At first, I didn’t consider any precaution,” said Prisca.

ACHIEVE also supported Pendo’s household with annual health insurance cover to support them accessing health services. Notably, her health and wellbeing have also improved alongside school attendance and performance. Her viral load is as low as 500 copies compared to the 11,155 copies by May 2021. She has now started her secondary education, and she looks forward to becoming a doctor in the future.

To reach its goal, ACHIEVE supports OVC service delivery and DREAMS interventions, provides technical assistance to strengthen social welfare systems and improve service quality and reach, and supports capacity development for local partners to sustain services at the community level. ACHIEVE is implemented by Pact, in partnership with Jhpiego, Palladium, No Means No Worldwide, and WI-HER.