Family Camp for Mothers and their Children living with HIV
Campfire Chat with Mary Silvia, Associate Director, Programs and Growth. Join us Around the Campfire for a monthly sampling of inspiration, impact, camp-inspired recipes, activities and crafts, and more!
Through my work with SeriousFun camp partners, I am privileged to see how camp benefits the lives of children living with serious illness and their families through a kaleidoscope of cultural lenses.
Camp Rainbow in Chennai, India, for example, offers a Family Weekend specifically for mothers and their children living with HIV. Like all parents and caregivers of children living with serious illness, these mothers experience daily anxiety and isolation as a result of managing their children’s care and well-being, but the cultural stigma surrounding HIV adds an additional layer of stress that just seems to melt away during their family camp experience.
These photos are from a recent family camp session at Camp Rainbow, taken during a team-building challenge requiring mothers to move a stack of five light-weight tires, one tire at a time, from one pole to another pole. The tires must be stacked in order, with tire number five on the bottom and tire number one on the top, and – to ensure teamwork – a tire can only be moved if three team members are holding it at the same time.
It makes me smile to look at the faces of these mothers who cannot help but giggle at the absurdity of requiring multiple people to carry an object that is light as air. And, when I look more closely, I can also see in their faces a hint of relief; of letting their guard down; of determination; of triumph. I know that I am witnessing a transformative moment in their lives as they venture out of their comfort zones, connect with one another, and share in a playfulness that simply doesn’t exist in their everyday role as caretakers of children with HIV.
I chose these pictures because I think they show so much more than I could possibly tell you about the many ways that SeriousFun camps and programs change lives. Thank you for the opportunity to share them with you, and I look forward to sharing more inspirational pictures and stories of my work with SeriousFun Children’s Network in a future issue of Around the Campfire!
To join us in empowering children with serious illnesses – and their families – to reimagine what’s possible, donate here.
Camp Rainbow is a psychosocial support program delivered by the team at Y.R Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education, in partnership with SeriousFun Children’s Network. It provides a unique opportunity for children living with medical conditions and their families to participate in traditional camp activities aimed at enhancing childrens’ adherence to treatment, medication and nutrition to improve their quality of life through fun and play-based learning, all free of charge. Campers have transformative experiences at Camp Rainbow and it helps them build a positive approach towards themselves and others, develop life-changing friendships, and become confident leaders. Camp Rainbow currently hosts residential sessions, day programs, and in-hospital programs for children living with HIV and cancer and their families, primarily in the state of Tamil Nadu with recent expansion to other states in India.