A Life Transformed at Fatsie Health Center, Ethiopia

Abeba smiles at her new son, Fikadu. {Photo credit: G. Eshetu / MSH}Photo credit: G. Eshetu / MSH

Abeba’s partner left her when she told him she was pregnant with their second child. Soon after, she went to a nearby health center for antenatal care and discovered that she was HIV- positive. Without a source of income or her partner’s support, Abeba asked her family for help, but they refused her. Abeba eventually could not afford to feed her young daughter, and overcome with despair, she tried to end her life more than once. When her friends learned of these suicide attempts, they were concerned for her safety and recommended that she visit Fatsie Health Center for health services and psychological support. Having nowhere else to turn, Abeba and her young daughter boarded a bus to Fatsie.

When Abeba reached Fatsie, she was too sick to walk. As she stumbled through the rain, some community outreach workers noticed her and took her to Fatsie Health Center. The health care team began treating Abeba for HIV and helped her get counseling from the clinic’s Mother Support Group for HIV-positive women.

Moved by Abeba’s story, the outreach workers and mother mentors also found free housing for her and her daughter and collected money from the community to buy them groceries. They continued to check on Abeba to ensure that she had adequate care and counseling so that she would not attempt suicide again.

Equbay is one of the case managers at Fatsie who helped Abeba. “We are satisfied to see Abeba’s life transformed through our counseling and support. It is delightful to see how people’s lives are improved by our interventions,” she said.

Abeba is grateful for the assistance she received from the staff at Fatsie. “They took care of me like a mother would care for her newborn baby,” said Abeba.

Fatsie Health Center is supported by the PEPFAR- and USAID-funded program, Ethiopia Network for HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care & Support (ENHAT-CS), which is implemented by Management Sciences for Health. In its first year, the program trained and mentored over 2,500 health personnel in 206 health centers, increasing their capacity to provide quality, integrated HIV & AIDS services.

ENHAT-CS also provides mentoring support to 59 Mother Support Groups and has conducted clinical and counseling skills training for 236 mother mentors and the support groups’ coordinators. Furthermore, the program manages 350 community-based outreach workers through its subcontractor, the National Network of Positive Women Ethiopians. Since ENHAT-CS started in September 2011, these mother mentors and outreach workers have reached more than 23,000 adults and 4,000 adolescent children with HIV prevention messages and have enrolled over 450 HIV-positive mothers in Mother Support Groups, like the one that helped Abeba.

Abeba now plans to become a community outreach worker and mother mentor herself to help other HIV-positive women transform their lives.