It wasn't their words

It wasn't their words

Abishye lay on his wooden bed frame. He could no longer walk and there was no use in torturing him by trying to transport his wasted body to Kibao. I asked him what he would like to eat. Could he eat rice? Would he like dried fish? Was there anything that might put life back into him? There was no reason I could think of why he couldn’t get better, but he just wasn’t getting better. He accepted the food his aunt had prepared. As I held his hand, he smiled up at me and with a twinkle in his eye asked if he could have an Orange Fanta too? He got three! That was the last time I saw him. A few days later, word came that he peacefully fell into a sleep and never woke up again. I will miss that sweet young man. He was just too late to get to testing and to start treatment.

Mothers and grandmothers -- they are key to nursing their young adult children back to health. Abishye didn’t have either.

One of these mothers who changed their child’s outcome was Jamila’s mom who nursed her adult daughter day and night for weeks -- that was two years ago. Two whole years ago! Jamila had even slipped into a coma at one point, but her mother would not give up. I remember showing up late at night at her home -- it was after Jamila had been tested and I found myself telling them that contrary to what Jamila's husband was saying to everyone who would listen, what was happening to Jamila -- and so many other in these villages -- had nothing to do with witchcraft. It was AIDS. And it was caused by a virus. And the virus was going to kill everyone if we didn't recognize it for what it was. It was one of those uncomfortable moments where truth wasn’t necessarily invited, but where truth saved a young woman’s life. Her mother couldn't fight against witchcraft but against a virus she could try. And try she did. I saw Jamila two weeks ago with a brand new baby and a lovely smile. One of the miracles we have witnessed here in our villages ...

We are in need of many miracles here that's for sure. The heartbreak of seeing young moms dying is almost too much sometimes. While I was in America for Jonathan's surgery, it seemed that some of my dear friends went down hill. No one's fault, nothing anyone did wrong, it's just that when you're away for three months, the changes seem so much more stark. If one of my friends gets Kaposi Sarcoma (a cancer of the skin), everything becomes tough. The pain, the smell, the vile infections -- working to get referrals to get into the cancer hospitals, getting the right people to stamp the right papers, wading through the system, transporting those who are sick to big cities far away -- it's all intimidating and problematic, time-consuming and sometimes just overwhelming. Dying in the hospital is not what families or the dying even want to consider as an option. And so we have to do everything we can to get them to help before they ever get to that stage. And so we're always on the lookout for early signs of that cancer.

I remember just before I left for America last October seeing the black raised blotches on Sofia’s legs and thinking, oh no, is this Kaposi? -- and when I returned 3 months later, the cancer had taken over her leg and she could no longer walk. With Kaposi, it is for many a long and very painful death, but we do what we can. And we always are willing to try. Since Kaposi seems to be everywhere, we are learning many things. What we've done to help Sofia we've done because of what we learned helping Jeska. Her foot -- which seem to literally have exploded -- responded over the course of five painful months to certain medicines and antifungals -- and a combination of crushed flagyl in the open wounds, lasix for the swelling and the right bandages and dear Jesica is now walking! There is hope! And we're working now hard to get her papers through the system so that she can get a referral to the cancer hospital in Dar es Salaam. We have a whole group of people who are planning to all travel together in June -- and it is our wonderful Scola, whose Kaposi is completely healed, who will be escort everyone and be their cheerleader. She has already been to the city, she's already been to the hospital, and she's already gotten better -- and so she is the perfect one to lead the whole group. We're working hard to get Sophia to be well enough so she can go with them. She is eating again. There is a smile. There is hope. And her 11-month year old baby just might have his mother to raise him!

We never can anticipate what a day will bring, but these days at least the good news thankfully seems often to outweigh the bad. My friend Rejina is a mom with AIDS who recently took her 17-year old daughter on our bus Huruma for testing and came back with the news that her daughter was indeed HIV positive. That made their household another among the households here in our villages with three generations living with AIDS. Rejina at one point had wasted away to near death -- but now she looks simply great! There is a bounce in her step and joy on her face. I asked her about it. She told me that she now was a Christian and that Jesus helped her. She was the second mom this past week who told me with a smile on her face that Jesus was now in the heart. It wasn’t their words so much as it was their eyes that conveyed the transformation. Sparkle has replaced the hardness. Peace has replaced the fear.

I feel so blessed that we get to be a part of the lives of these people. We have been invited to share not only in their joys, but also in their sufferings.

Please do pray for a cure soon.

In His service,
Susan