Written by our St. Lucia intern Andrea Martinez
Nelly Myeni joined our Nutrition Program in September 2014. At the time, she was severely underweight and weak. She barely had the strength to stand up and relied on her mom to take care of her.
Nelly is 26 years old and lives in Dukuduku village with her mom, brother, two sisters, and their children. When we first met Nelly, she had recently started taking ARV’s, as she is HIV positive, and was having many side effects from the medication. She had a cough, complained of being extremely low in energy, was highly irritable and depressed, and would often start crying for seemingly no reason. She was also embarrassed of her physical appearance, and when we asked to take a picture of her for our records, she refused stating that she didn’t want anybody to see the way she looked.
After our first visit, our Medical Program Coordinator, Shwele, and African Impact volunteers, started visiting Nelly weekly and providing her with E-pap (a fortified porridge) and with emotional support to help encourage her to eat well (despite her lack of appetite) and to try to be as active as possible during the day, so that she could start regaining her strength.
By early October, Nelly was feeling better, but then she developed a fungal infection all over her body, as her HIV status makes her more susceptible to such skin conditions. This is also resulted in her losing her appetite again and losing weight, from her already underweight body. We then took her to the clinic and helped her get the medication she needed for her skin condition.
After a few weeks, Nelly had regained her appetite and some of her strength, and was eating well. She felt much better, and even though her left hand and leg were swollen and painful, she was still able to move around the house.
By mid-November, Nelly felt good, as she had recovered from her skin condition and her skin was no longer itchy. In the months that followed, Nelly continued to steadily gain weight and regain her strength.
Nelly is now at a healthy weight and able to take care of herself. She says, “I feel recovered!” Before, she relied on her mom for everything, from bathing to cooking, now she can do all that for herself. She is now strong, healthy and happy. She says, “before, the scale always said 30kg, now it says 60kg! I am so happy!” She also says that whenever people see her and ask her why she is so big, she replies that The Happy Africa Foundation/African Impact helped her.
Nelly has also asked us to enter her sister into our program, as her sister is also HIV positive, and is highly underweight and low in energy. Nelly believes that THAF’s Nutrition Program will help her sister, just as it did her. She also agreed to share her picture and story with us, as she “wants other people to feel comfortable and recover.”
If you would like to learn more about our Medical Program or how to help support Home Based Care or Nutrition patients, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AfricanImpactStLucia or email firstname.lastname@example.org.