On a recent trip to Africa, I met a man. A man named “John” who is living positively with HIV and even AIDS.
- A man who watched his wife of 35 years die of AIDS-related causes.
- A man who has nine children, all born again.
- A man who has known his status for four years but hasn’t been deterred.
- A man who boldly stood in front of my camera when I wanted to respect his privacy but still get a photo of his humble and dilapidated dwelling.
This man with a gaunt face but beautiful eyes shook my hand strongly and with great confidence.
He shared with me his story, one that brought him from finding out his status to living and breathing today as a positive, incredibly inspiring story of someone who has decided to live his life with thanks, not fear.
When I asked John what he wanted others to know about HIV or being HIV positive, he said that everyone should be tested and that AIDS is still a killer disease. He said that if you test positive, you should not fear, for fear will only exacerbate the illness.
John is being helped by Compassion in many ways: by support of his multiple income-generating projects, which include selling used clothing and small foods as well as ironing others’ garments.
He is given other support as needed based on the child development center’s close communication with him. He seems to be a proud man, not ashamed of his circumstances, and very grateful for what the Church and Compassion are doing to help him.
Though we all come from different backgrounds and bring a wide spectrum of abilities to our work, we all comprise a body of Christ helping a man named John. A man that most of us will never meet but who many of us will be impacted by as we gain energy from his story.
John has two children in Compassion’s programs. Two boys who are benefiting both directly through our programs and indirectly because their father is getting much needed support through the AIDS Initiative.
How could these two boys succeed with an ailing father who doesn’t get the help that he needs? We are helping this man to live so that his sons may focus on their education and future pursuits. A win-win if you ask me.
So please be encouraged that the AIDS Initiative you work to support in a multitude of ways is working quite well and being carried out in the most unique ways with some of God’s most cherished children, those living with HIV and AIDS. Your support allows the AIDS Initiative to be integrated into our programs in Africa.
Thank you for having the patience that I find myself lacking at times; the lack of patience that is embarrassing to admit when standing face to face with those who are HIV positive and have more than I will ever have.
I felt terribly honored to be in that small stuffy room with John, learning about his faith and his life. I felt that I was truly standing on sacred ground.