Today is World AIDS Day. Did you know that 6,800 new HIV infections occur daily, worldwide, and more than 5,700 people die of AIDS each day?( Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/aids-and-poverty-world-aids-day-2011/#ixzz1fISN5vgC). WOW!
When I was in Uganda this past summer it was the first time I was really around HIV/AIDS. I remember seeing these signs in many schools...
This was in an elementary school. I also remember a sign that read, "HIV/AIDS is not the end of your life". I can only imagine being a child and finding out you have a deadly virus...where medical attention is not always readily available and expensive. How can you not feel like it was the end of your life? A girl named Mary from the AMG orphanage recently graduated with certificate in catering services. She was abandoned by her family because she has HIV and she beat the odds thanks to the encouragement of the AMG Uganda staff and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Since Uganda, when I hear HIV/AIDS I always think of a young girl I met in the slums of Kampala named Angel. We were doing home visits near the Masajja Childcare Center and Angel just came up to me and grabbed my hand. She was sweet, had a beautiful smile, and I remember one of her flip flops was broken. This was the first time I had walked through one of the slums in Kampala and wasn't easy. Let me paint a picture for you...we enter an alley and pass small shacks and one roomed apartments very close to each other. The ground is dirt, uneven, with trash everywhere. There is no grass, play grounds, or paved streets. Children wearing rags, some with shoes some without, are running around everywhere. Naturally, white people walking down their street cause quite a commotion. Because this was the first time I had seen this type of desperate poverty, I struggled to keep my cool and not break down in tears in front of all these children, who live this life day to day. Anyway...back to Angel. So, the team did a few home visits and Angel stuck by my side throughout my time there. She didn't say much just held my hand and smiled. As we started our way back Jennifer, one of the workers at Masajja, told me that Angel has HIV. Angel has HIV...and she lives here...in the slums with a broken flip flop. All I could think is...how long will she last if she doesn't receive proper nutrition and medical care? I would guess that Angel is anywhere between 8 and 10. So young to be facing this deadly disease. I was so shocked by what Jennifer told me. I mean I know there are countless children who suffer from HIV/AIDS but I guess I didn't expect to be hit in the face with it by a sweet girl named Angel.
|Angel is in the yellow shirt to my left.|
I gave Angel a bracelet and said a prayer for her. I still think and pray for her often. I just emailed my friends in Uganda asking about her Angel. Maybe there is something I can do for her. It is easy in America to forget that HIV/AIDS is still a huge problem in our world. Find out what you can do to help and join me in praying for Angel and thousands of children just like her.