Supporting vulnerable adolescent boys in difficult situations : Some stories from the field


SUPPORTING RAVI THROUGH a crisis

Ravi, a 17 year old boy is studying in XI standard, and living with his mother. Both he and his mother are HIV positive, and are estranged from his father and older brother. After the separation from his father, his mother had been living with her parents and brothers. But once her parents died, issues were creeping up between her and her brothers and this family was also falling apart.

When Ravi fist became a part of Samraksha’s programme, he was very emotionally disturbed. He craved for some attention and recognition from his fathers and brother and was desperate to get in touch with them. He also had a lot of issues with his own HIV status, wanting to know and understand its implications, had a lot of issues regarding his own HIV status and the need to take medicines. He was also desperate to get in touch with his father and older brother, even though his overtures were not met with encouragement and his older brother was actually ignoring him.

Over the course of a few months, Ravi was able to talk about these issues with trusted adults in a safe space. He also attended multiple life skills sessions focusing on self awareness, communication, building and sustaining relationships and decision making. All these helped him move through an emotionally turbulent time, and also equipped him to handle future crises.

After a few months, he received news that his father has passed away. His older brother also came back to live with them and his health was also very poor. There was pressure on Rajesh and his mother to move back to the fathers village.

The family was in emotional turmoil, but Ravi was able to handle these difficulties.  At first his brothers medical needs were addressed and a treatment plan worked out. He and his mother also decided that they would not move into the fathers village, but continue to lead the life they have built over the past few years, with his mother continuing to work in the anganwadi and Ravi continuing his education and the part time business he has started. 

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.

HELPING ALTAF DO WELL IN LIFE

Altaf, a 11 year old boy is studying in fifth standard. He lives with his mother, younger sister, maternal grandmother and uncles. His father died due to HIV many years ago. Anwar and his mother are both HIV positive and are taking ART medicines.When Altaf joined Samraksha’s programme for vulnerable boys, he was an active participant, wanting to be a part of everything. But over the course of the initial interaction it was apparent that he had a hearing problem, could not follow through on instructions. His mother shared that she had started some treatment for a ear infection, but not completed it. She was referred to another doctor and treatment was restarted. With this treatment, there was a marked improvement in his hearing.During one to one counseling, Altaf also started opening up about his life. He shared that he still missed his father and younger brother who had died. Altaf was in hostel when they died and he had not even been informed about it. After many years, he found a space to express his grief and his hurt at not having been informed at that time.Although Altaf was in fifth standard, there were a lot of gaps in his education. He was barely literate. Samraksha found a local volunteer who was willing to help him with basic literacy, and within a few months, he picked up very well and was able to read and write.Altaf is now an active participant in Samraksha’s programmes. He has found a lot of friends here. He is also a leader in the group, wanting to set an example. He shared openly about how he takes his medicines regularly, and he is also motivating other group members to do the same. 

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UPDATES

  • Come Holidays, come exposure visits!!! Samraksha has organized exposure visits to nearby archaeological sites, zoos and museums for the adolescent and pre-adolescent boys we are working with. This trip will give them a break from their difficult family lives and also an opportunity for them to plan the entire visit as a group. If you are interested in supporting this visit, please donate here. https://goo.gl/ktEP3M
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    Come Holidays, come exposure visits!!! Samraksha has organized exposure visits to nearby archaeological sites, zoos and museums for the adolescent and pre-adolescent boys we are working with. This trip will give them a break from their difficult family lives and also an opportunity for them to plan the entire visit as a group. If you are interested in supporting this visit, please donate here. https://goo.gl/ktEP3M