At night when no one was watching and the guard had been bribed, Rose, her four children and her husband would huddle together in one of the stalls of the local market to sleep. Rose and her husband were HIV-positive, and their health was getting worse and worse.
With no jobs and no rent money, they spent a year homeless in the chilly Rwandan nights.
“We lived in the market for a year while bribing the market guard not to send us out until a friend of my husband rented a tiny house for us. The house was so tiny that later my husband’s coffin could not fit.”
Rose’s husband passed away in 2004 from HIV-related illnesses, leaving her and her children in an even more desperate situation.
“I did not have even 100 Rwandan francs (U.S. $0.17) with children to feed and no source of income. My biggest concern was where we would leave our children as I watched my and my husband’s health waste away.”
But at this lowest point in their lives, a local church, a Compassion partner, intervened. The church was sponsoring children in need, and Aliane, one of Rose’s four children, was sponsored.
According to center staff member Sebazima, Aliane’s health was in critical condition when she was first registered.
“She was very weak and sick. She had a big swelling on her face, which was later diagnosed as tuberculosis of the jaw. Almost all of her teeth were decayed.”
The child development center helped Aliane get medical attention, including a test to find out if she was suffering from the same virus that killed her father. She was.
“It is from such biting poverty and nakedness that Compassion gathered my life and restored hope, not only for Aliane, but for my entire family,” says Rose.
Aliane and her mother were able to receive antiretroviral drugs, along with nutritional supplements such as milk, fish and rice to keep them strong while taking the medicine.
Once Rose’s health had improved, she received money to start a small business. She had experience in embroidering, so she bought an embroidering machine to start a sewing business.
Rose was skilled, and she received many requests to make school sweaters for children, including a contract to make sweaters for Compassion-sponsored children.
Since that time, Rose’s business has blossomed. With her profits, she has bought four more sewing machines and employs workers to meet the increasing demand for her sweaters.
Rose has also been able to buy a four-room house for her family and business, along with a piece of land where she is planning to plant a vegetable garden.
Young Aliane is now 15 years old and in her first year of secondary school. She is one of the brightest students in her class and likes chemistry and math.
“Compassion got me when I was very, very poor. They registered me and took me to school. They paid my fees, gave me shoes, and blessed me with a wonderful sponsor. We didn’t have a house but now we are in our own home. My mum had one sewing machine, but now we have many. I used to be very sick, but now I am okay. I know I shall live long like everyone else who is not HIV-positive.”
Aliane’s siblings also now have hope for their future. Rose has managed to send her other three children to school with the profits from her sewing business.
With tears, Rose says, “Compassion added days to my life and enabled me to have a home for my children. They have stood by me, comforted me, and given me spiritual and moral support. I can only pray a blessing to the entire family of Compassion.”
Rose, who once slept in a cold market stall with no hope other than death, is now able to provide for her family, bring jobs to her community, and a message of hope to all she encounters.