Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 3: How young children develop

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Live with HIV > Chapter 3: How young children develop


Charity, whose story began in the previous chapter, was only 2 when her mother got very sick. Because she was so ill, Charity’s sister and brother did all the housework, helped their mother eat and bathe, and tried to keep her spirits up. The children did the best they could to care for Charity too. There was often not enough for them to eat.

After their mother died, Tanya and Gideon tried to respond to Charity and her needs, but they were often too busy or too tired, and sometimes too sad or worried.


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A 3-year-old demands so much attention! And there was never enough food, so Charity was small, weak, and babyish for her age. Sometimes Charity stayed at a neighbor’s house where the older children there watched her. They were busy too, and had their own troubles. Charity learned it was better if she kept quiet and stayed out of their way.

When Gideon met Beatrice at the food program, things began to change for their family. Beatrice helped them get enough food, and she told Gideon about a small childcare group run by her friend Janet, who watched children at her home a few hours a day, providing chances for the children to play and explore while their families worked. She had space for Charity.


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Janet sang and told the children stories, had simple toys and safe household things to play with, and talked with them, answering their questions and helping them get along. After some months of eating regularly and playing with other children at Janet’s house, Charity was a different girl — stronger, curious, and able to do most of the things other children her age could do.



This page was updated:27 Nov 2019