News Release

Mormons and Catholics Partner to Help HIV Orphans

HIV and Children are two words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence.  They were recently, however, when several members of the three Mombasa congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with full-time missionaries, visited the Mikindani Catholic Church Youth Training Centre in Mombasa.  As explained by Sister Veronica, the sister in charge, this centre assists in the counseling, testing, tracking, and administering of medication and ATMIT for approximately 650 orphan children from the Mombasa area who were born HIV positive.

ATMIT is a porridge type product that was developed at Brigham Young University in the United States of America and is donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to various agencies that administer relief to those who are malnourished.  Mikindani Catholic Church Youth Training Centre is one of the beneficiaries  in Kenya.

 The medication that the children take to help control the effects of HIV sometimes causes the children to be dizzy, drowsy or nauseated.  ATMIT helps to alleviate those side effects.  Because of the nutritional benefits of ATMIT, the children’s immunity is boosted and it helps them to do better in school.  ATMIT is sweet to the taste and, as has been observed, the children like it.    

On Friday, July 12, 2013, Nurse Lucy Nyaga conducted a tour of the facility and introduced everyone to the children.  Small groups of about 20 children come to the Centre each day once a month, so that by the end of the month, the Centre has been able to evaluate and assist all 650 of the children.  During their visit they are weighed, their height is measured and their blood pressure is taken.  They are given their medications for the next month and also 2 bags of the ATMIT to last them for that month.  Most of the children come from homes where they are not able to get three meals a day and so ATMIT makes it possible for them to get another meal.  While they are at the Centre they are able to work on art projects and play games.  Ms. Nyaga explained that the artwork helps them to express their feelings—whether they are happy or sad.  Then the counselors are able to help them work on those issues.  They are each given a cup of warm ATMIT to drink, because when their tummies are full they are ready to listen to stories and learn.  While the ATMIT is being prepared, the children can read books, or draw pictures.  After they are finished with their ATMIT, a special activity for the day is planned.  At 3:30 the children return to their homes.

According to Ms. Nyaga, “I have great appreciation for the ATMIT, because  without it the program could not go on.”  Some of the children also expressed their appreciation by saying, “Thank you for supporting our lives, thank you for the love, thank you and please come again.”

Mormons and other Faiths have partnered for many years on numerous community and humanitarian projects to alleviate suffering throughout the world. On 24 Feb 2013, the Observer newspaper in Uganda reported that this fortified food had saved lives of over 2000 children in Uganda and this had come to the attention of Hon. Musa Ecweru, the Minister of Disaster Preparedness, who had commented, “Ninety nine per cent of the children improved after being fed with this product.”

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