Janvier is a tall, dark and handsome 15-year-old who dreams of becoming an international football player. He lives in Rwanda, a small but densely-populated country in central Africa.
“I did not know I was sick. Mum used to give me drugs and tell me to take them in order to be healed of my skin disease.”
When Janvier turned 8, his mother thought it was time he knew the truth about his condition.
“She took me to the hospital and the doctor explained to me why I had to always take the tablets. He told me I had HIV and that I was born with it.
Then I joined a group of children and their parents in a counseling session and asked them what HIV was, and they explained to me.”
For the next two years, Janvier spent most days lying in the hospital. When he wasn’t a patient there, he still had to go to the hospital every morning, afternoon and evening for injections.
Several times, he was put on an oxygen pump and had an IV needle in his right hand. This needle allowed medicine to be given without more needle pricks.
“I had constant headaches, was dizzy most of the time and had red eyes. You cannot tell now, but you should see my registration photo.
I could not eat but would throw up instead. They used to take me to hospital to eat. They used to feed me, dress me and wash me. I was like a dead body. The hospital was my home.”
Janvier weighed only 17 kilograms (about 38 pounds) by the age of 11, and he was plagued with a persistent cough and continuous skin diseases.
One day, Janvier’s mother was given some money by her family and told that she and her sons could no longer live with them. When they moved, and Janvier transferred to his current child development center, his mother received 100,000 Rwandan francs (about $8 U.S.) from Compassion’s HIV fund.
She used this money to rent a place for her family to live and rent a shop in the market where she sells bananas. She later bought a piece of land on which she constructed her own house. She used her market profits to pay school fees for Janvier’s younger brother.
Compassion continues to supply Janvier’s family with nutritious food supplements such as rice, beans, sugar, milk, eggs, vegetables, cooking oil, fish and fruit. His mother tells us,
“There was a time when Janvier was always weak and sleepy because of the effects of his drugs. Then he started getting better.
He now weighs 50 kilograms (110 pounds). When people see him, they wonder whether he is the same child they knew. When I see him, I get so pleased and I know that it is because of Compassion.”
“I feel like am having the same life as everyone else. I know what these drugs have made me – I know I need them to survive. Before, I used to fall sick all the time. Mum used to tell me it was malaria.
Before, I used to throw away my drugs because I did not know their use. I would not spend three months without going to hospital. Now I have spent almost four years without being admitted.
I am very grateful to Compassion. If they had not helped me, I would have died! But, by the will of God through Compassion, I am still alive.”