Chrissie Gondwe joined Dignitas International in 2008 as a home-based care nurse but now she coordinates the Teen Club in Zomba – a club for HIV+ teens. The club combines the features of an HIV clinic with a unique support group tailored to teens.
“We hold fun activities like football, netball and indoor games. We teach the teens about sexual and reproductive health, treatment adherence, future careers, and nutrition.”
According to Chrissie, Teen Club opens up opportunities. “It gives hope to these children. We encourage them to stay in school so that one day they will be leaders. The only thing they have to do to stay healthy is take their medicines consistently.”
Chrissie feels that she has an important role working with teens because they see her as a friend.
“They feel free with me and know that they can reach out whenever they need help. My hope is to see these teens grow up and excel in their lives. This will make me very happy.”
Recent research showed that adolescents participating in Dignitas’s Teen Club were three times more likely to stay on HIV treatment than teens not enrolled in the program. In 2013, Dignitas supported the expansion of Teen Clubs and currently runs six programs in Malawi’s southeast region.