WORLD AIDS DAY & GIVING TUESDAY –It is a Sign
My first real encounter with World AIDS Day was 10 years ago while I was volunteering in South Africa. I attended a World AIDS Day candlelight vigil with an inspiring group of children that had taught me so much in the months leading up to this. Hospice nurses ran this support group for these children (ages 4-16) who were either infected with HIV/AIDS themselves or affected somehow, usually by losing a family member to the disease. They sang songs and performed a play for their community. After their performance we all prayed and stood holding our candles in silence, remembering those who have lost their lives to this deadly disease. I remember looking at their young faces as they held the candles and thought about the loved ones that they had lost—even as I think about it today I am overwhelmed with so much emotion.
Since that moment I have met countless other children both in South Africa and Kenya whose lives have been destroyed by this disease. Three children that I love as my own live in our JCO Children’s Home were born with HIV. In fact every single child in our JCO Children’s Home has been affected in one way or another, many of them losing their parents to the disease, which is how they ended up with us in the first place. The three children that are HIV+ came from different families, but all three of them came to us in pretty bad shape. Their caregivers at the time were aware that they were infected and had tried to get them some kind of treatment, but were not able to get them everything that they needed.
HIV treatment is available, but it is a very strict regimen. One must take pretty high-powered drugs every 12 hours on the dot. Missing even one dose can be really dangerous especially for little ones. It is also essential that anyone receiving treatment is given 3 highly nutritious and well-balanced meals each day to keep their bodies strong enough to handle the disease and the treatment. Another crucial part of their care is very regular doctor visits to ensure their immune systems are functioning and to figure out the specific “cocktail” of drugs that work for each individual. All of this is extremely difficult for an impoverished family to manage and as a result our kiddos were struggling.
The good news is that now all three of them are doing really well! Their health is better than ever, they are growing strong and doing well in school. If you met all of our children now, you would have no idea who is infected and who isn’t. Our staff at JCO does such a wonderful job at keeping them on their strict regimens, taking them to the doctor every few weeks and taking note of even a runny nose because it could indicate their immune system is not in good shape. We are so thankful that they are doing well and pray each day that it continues.
We also pray for a cure. For our kiddos and others on the current ARV regimens that treatment can add 15-20 years to their lives and we are hoping that within that time frame that a real and lasting cure is found. I am encouraged with all of the progress that has been made in recent years and I have to believe that a cure is coming soon.
Since today is both Giving Tuesday and World AIDS Day we would like to ask you to donate any amount to Restore Humanity to help us do our part in the battle against this global epidemic.
I have explained why this disease is so near to my heart, but allow me to tell you some of the other ways we combat this disease:
1-Care for our HIV+ children in our JCO Children’s Home
2-We have an Outreach Program that provides scholarships to local high school students in Sirembe, so that they can get their education. Statistics prove that education is the single greatest weapon against HIV/AIDS especially in sub-Saharan Africa and most especially for girls. Every year that a girl stays in school her chances of getting HIV+ are drastically reduced.
3-Last year we partnered with the local clinic in Sirembe to build a Maternity Ward. One of the major goals of this facility is to encourage more women to get pre-natal care. If a HIV+ woman receives proper ARV treatment while pregnant it reduces the chance of transmission to the baby to almost nothing.
We are working for prevention and care for those who are infected. Join us and help us fight this disease!
There are two ways YOU can help: CARE or PREVENTION.
1-Our Children’s Home and help us continue to care for our kiddos.
2-Send a girl to high school for a year for $500 (That includes full boarding, uniform, tuition, and fees for an entire year)! If you can’t donate the full amount, just give what you can and we will put it towards an Outreach Scholarship.
With Love & Gratitude—
Sarah Fennel & The Restore Humanity Team