Helping Vinay to deal with grief
Vinay is 13 years old and studying in 7 standard. He lives with his mother, step mother and older siblings. Vinay is HIV positive as are his father and step mother. All three of them are taking anti-retroviral medicines. His mother died when he was very young.
When Vinay started attending Samraksha’s programmes for vulnerable boys in HIV affected families, he was very reluctant to attend any sessions. He came with his father, and during the initial sessions was very withdrawn, speaking only when directly addressed, and not engaging in any way with the children.
Samraksha tried to engage with him on a deeper level, trying to understand his issues. During a visit to his home, his father confided that the household was very disturbed, because his second wife and children were not getting along with each other. In fact, one of his older boys was now living with his mothers relatives, not wanting to live with the step mother. Vinay himself was very disturbed, getting into frequent fights with his step mother.
Samraksha reached out to Vinay through one to one counseling, giving him a chance to speak about his feelings. Although reticient at first, he gradually opened up about different issues – his longing for his biological mother who had died when he was five years old, his confusion about his HIV status and the medicines. His family had never been able to talk openly about the HIV issue, and he did not clearly know that he was HIV positive and he had to take medicines to control the virus. He resented taking these medicines, specially since his brothers were not taking any.
The one to one sessions helped him open up about the issues, and there were also group sessions focusing on HIV and living life with HIV, which helped clarify many of his questions. At first, when he realized that he had to continue taking his medicines for a very long time (perhaps for ever), he was very disturbed, but within the space of his own group of adolescent boys, he could start talking about his feelings. There were other boys like him, who were also taking these medicines, and there were still others, who may not be taking medicines themselves, but had parents or sibling who were taking them.
Vinay now is very changed. When he comes to attend sessions, he is outgoing, even mischievous. At school he was getting fair grades, and with Samraksha’s support he is also picking up in subjects he was finding difficult. Despite all the turbulence in the family, his father is also reaching out and supporting him, and this is making him feel good.