Marlene was 10 years old when she discovered she was HIV positive.
"I did not believe it. I thought I was going to die in a few days," says Marlene. "I used to stay alone and would not play with others."
That was before she joined our program teaching children important health-based lessons about how protect against disease and to understand the facts about hygiene and sanitation, malaria, HIV and AIDS, where she learned valuable facts and information. Here's how it all started.
One day at school, Marlene saw her friends participating in a games-based activity. It looked like fun so she joined in. Afterwards there was a group discussion with the Coach about the lessons the children had learned while playing the game. The conversation focused on practicing healthy behaviours, like disease prevention. Because the game and the group discussion included facts about HIV and AIDS, Marlene felt comfortable asking a few questions. It was the first time she'd ever spoken about the disease.
"I asked the Coach how long an HIV-infected person can stay alive. He told me that I can study, work and live a long life if I take medicine regularly," says Marlene. "When I got back home I told my uncle to get me medicine. Now, I am on antiretroviral therapy treatment."
Our programs encourage children like Marlene to overcome their fears and understand their situations by creating safe, supportive environments where our games and Coach-led discussions can break the ice and create open conversations. These conversations address and break down stigma surrounding topics such as, HIV and AIDS, malaria, and sexual and reproductive health. They also promote respect by encouraging inclusion and acceptance around these differences.
Today, Marlene is empowered and has increased her knowledge and awareness about HIV. And she has embraced her right to live, learn and play by socializing with other kids.
Donate today to help children like Marlene learn how to stay healthy through play.
Healthy, happy children--one game at a time
Play: For healthy choices