Kids Work Together to Bring Hope for a Generation Free of HIV
November 8, 2010
This weekend, with the help of over 150 kids, I had a lot of fun while helping to move forward the fight to eliminate pediatric AIDS at the Foundation’s annual Kids for Kids Family Carnival in New York.
The theme for this year’s carnival was Tunaweza, a Swahili word that means “Together, we can.” The spirit of togetherness and helping each other was alive at the carnival booth where I volunteered.
Mom and Baby Kits include soap, gloves, and clothing for
newborn babies. (Photo: EGPAF)
At the “Mom and Baby Kit” booth, both parents and kids assembled welcome kits for new mothers in African programs supported by the Foundation. These kits consist of a few things a mother would need for a safe and clean delivery of her baby – including a bar of soap, gloves, and a clean string to tie off the umbilical cord – along with a pamphlet of directions for using items in the kit.
Most importantly, the kit contains a syringe that a mom living with HIV can use to administer medicines to protect her baby from HIV. Moms who might not deliver at a clinic receive the life-saving drug nevirapine to take home with them. Just one dose to a mom in labor and a baby after delivery can reduce the chance of transmitting HIV up to fifty percent. As we reach more and more mothers around the world with treatment and more effective combinations of drugs, we can reduce that risk to less than two percent.
As a mom myself, I enjoyed chatting with other parents about the importance of the Foundation’s programs, and the difference they make for families affected by HIV. The greatest conversation I had was with a mother who was HIV-positive about the medications she had used while pregnant to ensure her child was born free of HIV.
A guest adds a bag with clean latex gloves to a
Mom and Baby Kit. These gloves will help ensure a clean and
safe delivery for a baby in Africa. (Photo: EGPAF)
After assembling the necessary items for the kits, kids selected a “welcome home” gift for the babies among an assortment of newborn outfits and hats. Pink and blue, polka dots and stars, even Mickey Mouse – there were a lot of choices!
Finally, the kids grabbed fabric markers and decorated the bags with pictures and messages. “With love from Staten Island,” read one, and “I hope this bag has everything you need for a healthy baby,” read another. Then there was one that simply read, “Hope.”
I know the kids had fun and gave back, but the best gift of all was watching them play side by side, with no one the wiser about which kids might be HIV-positive – or which had been born to parents living with HIV, but were HIV-free themselves – because they were all healthy.
That’s the Foundation’s mission, to ensure a generation free of HIV. It was heartwarming to spend the day with
parents, kids, and friends getting one step closer to that goal.
Elizabeth Flanagan is a Senior Technical Officer supporting HIV prevention and care and treatment programs, based in Washington, D.C.