New Life Center
The New Life Center (NLC) is a residential health center providing specialized, supportive care to Nepali children (age 0 to 15) living with HIV/AIDS.
Our young patients and their caregivers stay here for months at a time, free of charge, receiving specialized medical and nutritional support, psychological counseling, tutoring services, cultural celebrations, and more – until they are healthy enough to return home. Caregivers of these children receive vital information on hygienic practices, nutrition, and the effective management of HIV/AIDS, plus counseling services in partnership with Ankur Counseling Center.
After discharge, families unable to access the free antiretroviral medicine provided by the Nepalese government benefit from delivery services by NLC staff.
New Life Center nurses (in white) and two patient families pose in front of our beautiful facility at discharge. The New Life Center is located in Lalitpur, just outside of Kathmandu. Stigma against HIV is so great in Nepal that we can't show our patients' faces - but these moms are tremendously relieved to know the New Life Center is here to support them in managing their children's HIV.
How We Work
Because children’s immune systems are not fully developed, children living with HIV get much sicker than adults–and they do so more often as well. These children are exposed to all the same illnesses as other children, but even when their HIV is well-managed, their weakened immune systems struggle to fight effectively against common ailments like the flu, the common cold, urinary tract infections, and more. Tuberculosis and pneumonia are special dangers for Nepalese children living with HIV.
The New Life Center provides these children with the support they need to survive and thrive with HIV.
Capable of treating up to 18 child-mother pairs on-site at a time, the NLC strives to provide holistic residential care to between 50 and 60 children living with HIV each year (often alongside their mothers, who are often also living with HIV). A few children who have lost their parents and have no other options for guardianship remain in NYF care on a permanent basis.
Our NLC team helps children recover from illnesses, keep current on their medication, and perfect their HIV management practices at home. When an NLC child turns 15 (old enough for adult services), NYF matches them with their local HIV resources for adults, ensuring a smooth transition with no gaps in care.
Staff members include cooks, nurses, a nutritionist, a driver, and more, with hospital-based pediatricians visiting at least once a month during non-pandemic times.
New Life Center nurses (in white coats) administer medicine to several children receiving care for HIV - as well as their mothers, also living with HIV. Stigma around HIV is so strong in Nepal that NYF must obscure the faces of these individuals, but here at the New Life Center, everyone is treated like family.
Beginning in 2022, we are expanding our outreach capabilities to provide home-based care options for rural families who are unable to spend months out of the year in Kathmandu Valley. Mothers in need of income generation help will also become eligible for some of our programs aimed at small business start-ups. (See Vocational Education & Career Counseling.)
In coordination with our hospital friends and grassroots partners, NYF is expanding our HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign efforts. Besides all this, we will provide a telephone helpline for those hoping to keep their status private, as well as produce and distribute Nepali-language educational resources for caregivers. Our hope is that by expanding our reach in this way, we can save and enrich many more lives – and help Nepal continue its progress in addressing this global challenge.
Pediatric HIV in Nepal
People living with HIV/AIDS in Nepal face social isolation, medical neglect, and physical and emotional abandonment. Though the Nepalese government offers HIV medication and other treatment programs free of charge, these services are difficult to access for patients in remote villages. Some hospitals still refuse care to affected people.
Many children are only diagnosed after their fathers, and sometimes both parents, have died of the disease. Tragically, low diagnosis rates have resulted in some mothers unknowingly passing the virus to multiple children. These children are at extremely high risk. HIV/AIDS is one of the most stigmatized illnesses in Nepal. Schools shut their doors. Non-infected children won’t play with them, and they’re banned from village activities. As kids living with HIV/AIDS become desperately sick with opportunistic diseases and feel brutally ostracized, their quality of life plummets.
A group of children enjoy a sunny afternoon on a balcony area at the New Life Center. Times like this - coloring and enjoying the simple medicine of sunshine and good company - help these kids feel less alone, and more like children.
Problems related specifically to HIV/AIDS in Nepal – in particular where children are concerned – include:
- Scarce specialized programs for people living with HIV/AIDS
- Limited access to available programs and resources, particularly for families in geographically remote villages
- Cultural stigma and superstition around HIV/AIDS status
- Low and late diagnosis rates, especially for rural communities
- Parental death leaving behind orphan children unable to access care
- Large families prioritizing uninfected children
- Necessarily-long hospital stays for children receiving care
- Endemic malnutrition throughout the country
NYF works closely with many other local organizations serving communities living with HIV to respond to these problems as effectively as possible.
The New Life Center is located in Kathmandu Valley, next to NYF's flagship Nutritional Rehabilitation Home. Here, families living with HIV are safe, nurtured, and supported in their journeys of becoming.
Fortunately, facilities and programs like those offered through the New Life Center and our community partners empower children and families to harness their potential and live full, rich, joyful lives. Building on a strong foundation of nutritional care, attention to a medical routine, and psychological counseling, the New Life Center helps children and families regain control of their health and chase their dreams.
The New Life Center offers services free of charge to the families in our care. This incredible program is funded by loving donations from organizations working to end the worldwide HIV epidemic and by individuals passionate about helping children and families thrive despite this daunting diagnosis.
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