The Nepal House team builds genuine bonds with the children they encounter. Many of these children have been through so much hardship and have developed a callous perspective of the world, while others have been victim to a series of unfortunate events and only crave love and attention. The following entry is a written account of the relationship between a Nepal House counselor and a young girl who suffered from AIDS.
Juna (her nickname) lived in one of the children’s homes that support children with HIV and AIDS after her parents died of AIDS. Nepal House Kaski has a mobile counseling centre here. Juna was in counseling with me for over two years. Juna was HIV positive and had pneumonia when she was a small child. Both her lungs were not functioning well since that time. The children’s home caregivers referred her to us reporting that Juna was often angry, cried easily and did not believe staff when they said she would get better. When I worked with her she shared her confusion about her future; whether she would get better or not. She was very sick, probably dying when I started working with her and no one at the home would talk with her about her condition. She was worried about what was happening to her. Her body got swollen and she could not breathe well. She had a sister who refused to visit her because of the AIDs.
I taught her many experiential exercises that she found helpful. We also talked in phone many times. She liked to talk and share, and did a lot of art work. She had a huge desire to go to school like her friends but her health never allowed her to. I talked to the staff this and they arranged to do some classes with her at the children’s home. After working with her many months the staff reported that, she was less angry and cried less and was more confident. I started doing two sessions a week with her because she was getting so sick. One time she told me that one of her caregivers was hitting her at night when she was coughing and wheezing from pneumonia. I spoke with the administration and made sure that the staff stopped doing that.
Her pneumonia got worse and she was hospitalized. I visited her there until she got worse and was transferred to Kathmandu. We continued to talk on the phone regularly. I had given her a small statue of the god Ganesh 2 months earlier after she had told me that her own statue was broken and she could no longer pray. She was so happy when I gave it to her, but it was left behind in Pokhara. When a staff told her she was coming to visit, Juna asked especially for them to bring her “the Ganesh statue Laxmi-Miss gave me”. The staff called to tell me that, and it touched me deeply. I spoke with her by phone often until she died in August. While I could not stop her from dying, I know that I provided her with safe place to share her emotional pain; that I was there to care about her and provide comfort and support.