Debut of Alem

Alem, 32 years old, with 2 year old daughter Selam came to the Suki program by referral of a concerned neighbor. Critically sick, malnourished and without medical attention, Selam’s future was dim. As our team nurse continued research into Salem’s condition, she found that Alem was living with HIV. Because of fear of stigmatization, she had kept her medical status a secret. Still, she had been nursing Salem since birth without realizing she could be transmitting HIV to Alem.

Avoiding any chance that her status would become known, Alem lived apart from family and continued on alone. When referred to the program, she refused to be enrolled as a project member living with HIV. The only option was to enroll Selam as a malnourished child and to continue working with Alem to overcome her fear and get the help she needs. The team moved ahead with food provisions and care for Selam hoping that, Alem, too would receive the help eventually.

Developmentally delayed, Selam couldn’t stand on her own and only cared about being carried by her mom. Shortly after her intervention, Selam began to improve. She gained the strength she needed and started to play like her peers. Alem’s concerns only grew, however, as she learned how she could be transmitting her HIV as she had nursed Selam for such an extended period of time.

Eventually, as Alem’s relationship with team members began to grow, so did her trust. Soon, she become a project member and has begun to provide proper care for her family for the long-term. She sought out a support group and reached out to have Selam tested for HIV. To her great relief, Selam was found HIV free. Today, through her continued efforts and regular staff visits to her home, Alem’s entire family is well connected and served by our team. Next academic year, Selam starts her academic debut. To learn more about the Suki Community health program, read more here. For online donation options, go here.

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