As we venture into these uncharted waters ...

As we venture into these uncharted waters ...

"Nina virusi," were the words spoken by Movinus. "I have the virus," the little boy told me. Usually children aren't told anything in our villages about any illness they have, much less AIDS, but somehow 8-year old Movinus had figured it out. He and his mother had been to our house for the make-shift clinic when lovely Dr. Leena had come with two carloads full of doctors -- specialists from Europe -- to spend the whole afternoon one day using our home as the clinic to examine everyone who had "unusual" problems. His mother had been encouraged to bring Movinus and she did. The little boy exhibited all the symptoms of HIV. He also had those familiar growths on his foot indicating Kaposi Sarcoma. And so we scheduled him to go to the hospital at Kibao to get tested along with his mother. When I was following up on those who had been tested this week, that was when Movinus told me. I had only asked the little kid if he went on our bus, but his response was to tell me that he was infected. I told him not to worry and asked him if he would like to go on our bus again, to which he nodded a "yes".

I went to see his teacher at the primary school a couple of days later and learned that the school had sent him home 3 months ago because he was just too sick to make it up the hills to school. Unfortunately his mom was too scared to do anything and there were now lesions on this boy's feet and he had swollen lymph nodes and lumps on his head and a terrible cough. Procrastination, or wishful thinking, or simple fear, only makes things worse. If the manifestation of the virus is this fast growing cancer (Kaposi sarcoma) there is no time to waste. And so tomorrow, mom and Movinus go to Lugoda to hopefully get their identification cards which will open the doors to the long journey that will eventually mean Movinus will be allowed to enter the special cancer hospital, where all of the treatment for this little boy will be free. There is a long road ahead before we can send them to the hospital, though! I have to get so many signatures and many official papers stamped from this official and that official. It's impossibly intimidating for a mom like Movinus' mother, but I've got a lot of friends to help us along the way.

Movinus is the second child this month to test both positive for HIV and for this horrible cancer. Ollie was the first. When I first heard about Ollie all I was told was that there was this sick little girl who couldn't walk and so I just sent word for her, and her mom, to get on our bus and go to the Kibao Hospital for testing. Both she and her mom came back positive.

With all of the children who come back HIV+ the first thing we try to help out with is high protein cereal and milk powder to build up their strength so that the ARVs can kick in. So I sent word to Ollie's mom that she should come with Ollie to my house to pick up cereal and milk for Ollie. I was thinking that the "not walking" meant the little girl was severely malnourished. But it was far worse than that. As I looked at her feet, the black and painful lesions on the bottom of her feet definitely were not nutrition related. It was that horrible cancer that attacks people with HIV. How thankful I am that everything worked perfectly so that we could get all of the paperwork done for Ollie quickly and that she is right now down at the cancer hospital in Dar. The fact that it all came together so incredibly quickly was indeed a miracle. She is the sixth person from our villages we have been able to send to Dar es Salaam for cancer treatment. It's hard to imagine anything more painful for a little child to die from, so I share this with all of you who are my friends and partners in this work
and ask you to pray for a couple of miracles -- a miracle for Ollie as she is down at that hospital right now, and a miracle for Movinus that we might somehow get all of his paperwork done and get him quickly down to the hospital in Dar. And then pray that we would know what to do so that word might spread throughout the villages here so that we might find quickly all of the other kids who are HIV positive so that we can prevent them from getting to the stage where Kaposi Sarcoma gets its foot in the door.

I will be very grateful for your prayers as we venture into these uncharted waters and try to save as many little kids as we can.

In His service,
Susan