Margot and Matthew’s Story
Since her two daughters had to move to Nairobi to find work, Margot has been looking after three of her grandchildren on her own. Margot has HIV and feels very weak, but her daughters’ low wages mean they are unable to send money home. As a result, Matthew, Margot’s youngest grandchild, was unable to go to school – until AIDS Orphan’s ECDC in Ahero was set up. It’s now been a year since Matthew started attending the childhood centre, so today we talked to Margot and Matthew about how their lives have changed since then.
We first catch up with the family on a Saturday morning. Although it’s the weekend, the children still need to help Margot out. Today they are digging over some soil to plant maize; it’s punishing work for Margot, but she’s determined to grow maize this year.
Since Matthew started attending school, it not only his health that has improved: his grandmother’s has as well. Margot had been overwhelmed by the pressure of feeding her grandchildren and sending them to school, and the stress coupled with HIV had been taking its toll. Although she still feels unwell, knowing that Matthew is receiving two meals at school and learning is helping Margot recover.
A couple hours later, the family take a break to have breakfast. Margot heats the water on a fire in the cooking shed, which doubles as a shed for the sheep. Today they have bread, which Margot tells us is a treat for them. The family is silent while they eat, appreciating the food.
They then return to the chores. Margot takes special pride and care of the school uniforms. Today is wash day – and Matthew’s uniform is first on the list. As most families, including Margot’s, cannot afford uniform sweaters, AIDS Orphan is currently raising funds to purchase them.
Margot then explains to us that Matthew is doing well at school. He’s keen to learn, and over the year, with the improved nutrition and a supportive learning environment, he has blossomed. He’s increasingly playful and radiates joy.
Matthew’s only toy is a marble that he treasures. The school is able to provide both educational toys and everyday toys for the children in the classroom, which helps with their growth as they learn to play well together, share, and problem solve.
My sister is now going through opiate addiction treatment. It’s a tough period for all of our family. She has withdrawal syndrome, so she was advised to start taking valium to ease the symptoms. The drug really works. She no longer has muscle spasms, and her sleep has improved too. Hope she’ll manage to go through all the challenges and will get well soon.
With some help to help herself Margot has been able to find the energy to start planting maize, and Matthew has been able to go to school. And because Margot is not having to find food during the day for Matthew, she is better able to care for the whole family. Margot still has to work incredibly hard, but as she tells us, she now has big hopes for her future and that of her family.