Please give kids with HIV a second chance

Please give kids with HIV a second chance
Supreet leading the children through a reading lesson.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

SEEING a child infected and affected with HIV gaining confidence in life through education is what volunteer Supreet Kaur Maniktala hoped to see most when she was roped into the Pink Triangle Foundation (PT) 2nd Chance Programme.

Nothing warms her heart more than seeing the kids reading happily, despite daily struggles and challenges they have to face.

"It is exciting to see how these children, who do not like to read, start on their own.

"This shows that they are empowered and feel more confident to learn," said Supreet, who is now the manager of the programme.

The 2nd Chance Programme dedicates its services to children living with HIV or those who are affected by the disease to improve their quality of life and well-being through welfare assistance, health supplements, psycho-social support and tuition.

It also aims to help address the daily challenges they face and also to provide a safe haven for children living with or affected with HIV.

"Some of the children are from broken homes or their parents or single parent have to struggle to make ends meet.

"Domestic violence and substance abuse are some of the problems these children face daily, and they are sometimes neglected.

"We provide counselling for the children and mothers and slowly guide the children academically," she added.

Supreet started volunteering as an administrative clerk before she was tasked to lead an outreach programme for men who have sex with men (MSM).

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

To date, they have extended their services to about 100 children and mothers.

Juggling between managing a huge group of volunteers and interns for the children's tuition and coordinating various aspects of the programme, Supreet also gives personal lessons.

"The children will have tuition classes every week and we will cover topics that are suitable for their age.

"For families who are still reluctant to open up to us, we will visit them in their homes.

"Some of the families accept our help and join the programme," she added.

Certified counsellors also provide psycho-social services and counselling for mothers.

"With better mental health, the mothers can raise their children better," Supreet added.

She said the programme not only impacted the children but also created a ripple effect within communities, especially the volunteers, who are made aware of the discrimination and stigma towardspeople with HIV.

"One of the children who did not like to read is now top in his class.

"We also have a little contest with them and whoever reads five books can choose an item in the bookstore as a reward," she added.

Volunteers and interns who sign up with them to help will also learn to have empathy and sympathy towards the children.

"Part of the 2nd Chance Programme also assigns volunteers to a child as their mentor.

"We believe that if the children have someone they can look up to, it will help with the child's growth," she said.

Supreet also shared her fear should a drastic change take place in the families of these children, she would have to start all over to regain their confidence.

For details about the programme, call 03-4044 4611 or email to 2nd.chance@ptfmalaysia.org

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