Violet had all the potential of being a great student. I first met her five years ago in our intensive English course that we offer for all of the kids when they finish primary school – in three months we teach them enough English so they can have a fighting chance in secondary school. Violet certainly was bright, and she was eager, and she was just sixteen years old. She was a great kid to have in school.
Then one day she didn’t show up for class.
The next day she wasn’t there either.
I was out visiting people when I stopped by the house where Nache lived. It was clear that we needed to get this kid to the hospital in the city, and that meant we needed money for transport for him and for his mom. But I didn’t have any money on me that day, there wasn’t any cash at the house, Steve & Godfrey & Emmanueli were traveling, and here I was in the land of no ATM machines. But just down the road was a church, and so I took off in shot to quickly see them. “They aren’t members of our church; we can’t help them.” I was devastated. More than devastated.
It was getting dark and we were still out on the search for all of our HIV moms with newborns and infants. The wonderful news had come that morning that the Mudabulo Hospital had received a supply of the special infant HIV tests and that they were willing to reserve 10 of them for me for children in our villages. What a blessing to have true friends willing to help!
He had just bought a new set of teeth. Oh and was he proud of that beautiful smile! But Garus was beautiful even without teeth. His face was simply so kind, probably because always wore a big toothless smile. When he was four months old, his mother, who was drunk at the time, rolled him into the fire and that is how he lost his foot. Growing up, he lost his teeth from falling so much. To make matters worse, Garus had severe asthma. I remember our first meeting six years ago – that was when I tried to teach him how to use my son Joshua’s inhaler as he gasp for air on my front porch.
“Lord, I cannot do this without You. I’m depending on You.”
A beautiful scene – Baba Asia walking with his 2-year old little boy Bekam, as the two of them were coming home from church. Baba Asia had been my enemy for at least five years – he hated me and he hated everything about me – but recently he became my ally and even more recently my brother in Christ. In the midst of all of the death and sorrow that is a part of our lives here, I see God so at work as He draws even the most unlovable towards Him.
I remember the morning they had first come to see me. It was the same morning that Dif, the daughter of my friend Elizabeth, had come to tell me that her mom had lost consciousness and I knew Elizabeth was going to die.
Among those who had come that particular morning was a mother, with her grandmother, aunt and cousin – and a small child wrapped up in a cloth. Just looking at the child’s color I knew there was a big problem. Her skin was a sickly light brown color and her lips were gray as were her fingernails. And she had been slipping in and out of consciousness.
Idda danced a little jig while she sang a song about God’s goodness and how God’s grace had saved her. Her face beamed. The words in her song were her own and they just flowed spontaneously and sincerely and joyfully from within her. What was remarkable about her little dance and song is that it was just a few months ago that Idda was paralyzed on one-half of her body and she had completely lost her ability to communicate. Dr. Leena told me that it was most likely encephalitis.
Where had Neema gone? We were out visiting the sick in Mwefu village, and following up on those who had just started taking ARVs, but Neema wasn’t there at her house. Neema has been part of our lives for eight months now, and not once have I gone to her home and not found her bed-ridden, in real pain with TB, sores, swollen legs and anything and everything else that goes along with merciless AIDS. When the doctors and nurses had come for a "training day" to explain how to take the ARV medication and how to stay healthy, I sent Jovinus with my little car to go get her.
Fruit! Fruit of any kind – avacados, oranges, guavas! Fruit is so welcomed, and so needed, by my friends in these villages who are living with HIV/AIDS. For some, when they have lost all appetite for food, they often can be coaxed back into eating with a little fruit, and so it’s been my habit when I go visiting people whenever I see fruit for sale I always buy whatever I can find so I have some just in case I need it for someone. And for those who are getting better, especially for the children, fruit gives that added nutrition and vitamins that help make the medicines effective.