Poverty does not discriminate.
Our journey with Sweet Sleep to Uganda gave us the opportunity to meet and work with many children who are HIV positive. We saw firsthand the struggles these children face and how the disease affects their already difficult lives. The stories of these children have changed my heart forever.
One young lady, about 14 years old, shared her story with us. The people of her village had given her a name that in their language meant “Waiting for Death.” She was alone and had to care for herself because her family had already died from HIV. She was also HIV positive. She walked to our site to receive her bed all by herself which probably took her a couple of hours one way. We gave her a new name, “Waiting for Heaven.” I have never seen such a beautiful smile when she heard her new name.
We were able to visit homes and help them set up their beds and mosquito nets. We visited a home of a little 7 year old girl. When we pulled up to the hut, we saw her father’s grave in front of their home. We learned that he had died from HIV. The home was being managed by a 17 year old girl who was also pregnant. There were 6 people living in this small hut. All of them, including the pregnant 17 year old were HIV positive.
We witnessed a little girl about 4 or 5 years old named Percy almost die from malaria. She was lying on the ground with a fever waiting for her bed. I wrapped my arms around her at one time and she was burning up. A few minutes later, she passed out and her eyes were rolling in the back of her head. Her mother started running down the village with her in her arms to take her to the clinic. As we watched Percy’s limp body being taken away, we didn’t know if she would survive or not. Her weakened immune system, plus the malaria could’ve easily taken her life that day, but God chose to save her.
The next day, we received word that one of our recipients, a 7 year old boy, had passed away the day before. He was HIV positive with malaria and pneumonia. The HIV virus had made his body too weak to handle malaria.
Kevin is a 15 year old girl whose HIV virus had made her so weak she could barely even talk. Our spiritual leader, Brian, got to spend time with her. She was also blind. Both of her parents had died from HIV so her village just abandoned her and left her for dead. She had been bed ridden for a year. Comboni Samaritans rescued her and took her to their hospital where she had been for the last 3 months. With her HIV being neglected, her time here on earth will be very short.
Sharon is a vibrant little girl with polio. She can not walk so she crawls everywhere she needs to go. Her knees are covered with calluses, scrapes and cuts. We gave her a pair of flip flops for her to use on her hands as she crawls. She is cared for by her grandmother. Sharon is also HIV positive.
To provide beds and mosquito nets for these children is an amazing opportunity and a great need. Something as simple as a mosquito net and bed of their own allows them to protect their weakened immune system. There are many more children with stories of their own. I can see their faces, their smiles and also the heartache they try to hide.
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