Ariel Club Members Express Love and Thanks from Crystal & Company Cards

Ariel Club members at the Mparo Health Center IV in Southwest Uganda showcase one of their cards from Crystal & Company.

The Ariel Club of Mparo Health Center IV in Southwest Uganda buzzes with life. Six-year-old Reina Nuhwereza explains, “My grandmother told me that people who care about the work of Ariel activities have sent us a special message. This shows they love and care about us.”

Reina was born HIV-positive and lost both her parents to the disease. She is a member of the Ariel Club and is excited to see the World AIDS Day cards being presented in partnership with Crystal & Company.

Ariel Clubs are implemented by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in nine countries in Africa. The clubs, named after the daughter of Elizabeth Glaser, are support groups for children aged 5-19 who are living with HIV. They help HIV-positive children support each other on a peer-to-peer level. The clubs address the psychological and clinical needs of children so that they feel confident, stay on treatment, and live a better quality of life. The club that Reina attends is supported by EGPAF with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Through the Ariel Club, Reina receives her medication and counselling. “Thanks to the support of our donors, I also receive lunch and a dollar or two for transport whenever I attended the Ariel activities that are held once every 3 months,” she adds.

On this special day, before the members do an activity, they ask the health workers to show them the cards. “We are very eager. This is an important gift that we must see first,” says 13-year-old Patricia Kanabahita, who offers to read and interpret the messages written on the card by the donors. Kanabahita, who lost her parents to HIV, is overcome by joy when she reads one of the messages, saying, “We love you.” Bursting into tears of joy, Kanabahita reveals that she didn’t get an opportunity to be loved by her parents because they died before she could get to know them. The members pin up the card on the wall of the facility and promise to keep it as a souvenir. As we leave for another facility to deliver the cards, the words of thanks continue.

At the Ariel Club of Bugangari Health Center IV in the Rukungiri District, word has made the rounds that a gift is on the way. The members are eagerly waiting and welcome us at the door. 14-year-old Janet Arigaba takes one of the cards, waving it to the members. Arigaba mobilizes the Ariel Club members to pin up their card on the wall “so that we are reminded of this love whenever we come to the facility,” she said. The Ariel Club members then share their dreams. Some hope to become nurses to help HIV-positive children and others want to become teachers to guide HIV-positive children to succeed in life.

These members are just a few of the nearly 900 adolescents that EGPAF supports through Ariel Clubs in Southwest Uganda. A special thanks to Crystal & Company for sending your inspiration halfway around the world!