Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Reaching vulnerable mothers and children in Ukraine

30
NOV
2011

Aids Alliance

Alliance Ukraine’s USAID supported SUNRISE programme is taking an innovative approach to ensure that women who are most vulnerable to HIV and their children are properly supported.

By training regional NGOs to have a gender sensitive approach and to allocate resources appropriately the project is having a huge impact on the lives of mothers and their children.

Galina’s story

SUNRISE assists women like 35-year-old Galina (not her real name), a single mother who had been injecting drugs for 10 years before receiving social support and treatment through the Alliance programme. It changed her life dramatically.

Galina’s three-year-old son Yarik, who is disabled, had speech problems and was socially isolated from other children. Through the advice of a friend, Galina discovered the classes for women who use drugs organized by the Volia (‘Freedom’) Charitable Foundation as part of the Alliance project.

Supporting mothers, supporting children

Galina received harm reduction services, including methadone treatment and her son received social services and care.“While I was learning about HIV prevention and sexual health…a social worker was reading fairy tales with my son, playing a ball game outside or teaching Yarik to lace up his shoes,” Galina says. Through the social worker’s help Yarik has learned how to interact with other children and make friends.

When the social worker asked Galina why her son did not attend preschool, Galina says she had difficulty answering, “I felt filled with the shame that we could not afford it,” Galina recalls. 

Help in accessing state services

The Volia Foundation staff learned of Galina’s situation and assisted her with submitting necessary documents for her child to attend a school group for underprivileged children sponsored by state social services. The children receive meals, classes and individual support.

Thanks to the treatment provided by the SUNRISE project, Galina no longer injects drugs.

The Alliance supports five projects that provide integrated services for female drug users in four regions of Ukraine. Currently over 300 women are enrolled in weekly educational activities, including support groups, meetings with medical specialists and monthly trainings. As in Galina’s case, provision of child care and other social services motivate women to participate. Women in the programme frequently invite their friends, who also inject drugs, to join these activities.

The gender-sensitive approach successfully piloted with Alliance support has since been employed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria programmes and is now being scaled-up nation-wide.