MEET JUDY

In May of last year, Judy was a successful business woman in a slum area outside of Nairobi. She made a living selling produce at the local market and led a good life with her family. One day when Judy was on her way to work, she was struck by a moving vehicle that veered off the road. She was severely hurt and was taken to the local hospital.

While being treated for her injury, Judy learned that she was HIV+. She explained that this left her feeling confused, scared for her life, and scared for her family. Knowing this could ultimately orphan her children, she finally found the courage to tell her husband. Her husband in turn left her insisting she had been unfaithful. To add to the tragedy, she did not have health insurance and learned she had broken her upper and lower leg and would need a full leg cast. The cost of this treatment emptied the money she had saved for her children’s schooling and for the family’s rent money.

Judy had no option but to send her children to live with family and move to a different slum area to recover. In an instant, Judy was left without a husband, without her children, without her home, without her savings, and with a disease she was confident would take her life and orphan her children. Around this time, she heard her neighbors talking about the church close to them. She overheard a little about the CARE for AIDS program and decided to give it a try. She explained that she had come to terms with dying and felt like she had no other option. 

When my husband and I met Judy in September, she was halfway through the 9 month empowerment program and was full of hope and determination. She told us something I remember as profound, that she was thankful for her status. Judy shared that If it hadn’t been for her HIV+ status, she never would have met Jesus or learned what it meant to live with the peace and grace of God. Judy was excited to heal, resume working, bring her children home, and begin ministering to others like her in her community. She said she was determined to use her status and her situation to glorify the Lord. 

It was an absolute joy to visit Judy in her home.

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WAKE

I grew up on the water. Many of my favorite childhood memories include long days full of sunshine, lake water, and water skiing. As may boaters know, if the water gets rough, it is a good idea to get in the wake of another watercraft. Doing this will calm your ride and clear the route allowing you to be less affected by other boats causing choppy waters due to running alternate routes. 

Recently, I heard a talk by Dr. Henry Cloud that stuck with me due to my past on the water. He discussed how the wake that a boat leaves behind is very telling of how the boat is doing. If the wake is curvy you know it lacks direction and focus, if it is shallow you know the boat is burning fuel, and if it is too steep the drag needs to be adjusted. He paralleled this to the wake that we leave as individuals. In this life, we will leave a wake in our work, our relationships, and our communities. We may be good in one or another but getting solid wakes in all three can be challenging, yet necessary.

When I think about wake, it brings clarity to what has been done and what needs to happen. Although I assess these things on my own frequently, I have learned that you can not be your own sole critic. It is so important to be open to hearing other's feelings on your results and relationships. In order to be focused on leaving an impactful wake, it is important to ask those around us what kind of wake we are currently leaving. Do I make people better? Do I make situations better? Do I resemble Christ in my interactions with others? Although intimidating, it is crucial to hear honest feedback in order to know what to adjust and what to enhance to ultimately leave a positive wake. Also, just like on the water, it is important to find a leader with a balanced wake to get behind. This will help calm life's choppy waters and will provide a space for you to remain focused on throwing a wake that will be a blessing to others.

Dr. Cloud states clearly: "The wake is the result we leave behind. And the wake doesn't lie and it doesn't care about excuses. It is what it is. No matter what we try to do to explain why, or to justify what the wake is, it still remains. It is what we leave behind and it is our record."

The idea of our wake is haunting and exciting. It clearly depicts what our character and actions leave behind and forces us to focus on what we believe, do, and say. There is a stream of consistency needed in order to leave a good path behind. Just like you can tell a lot about a boat just by looking at it's wake, you can also tell a lot about a person by the wake they leave behind. It is my prayer that we all begin to consider what paths we are cultivating and recognize that the wakes we leave behind will impact the world for the Kingdom.

 

Meet Anna

This morning's post comes to us from the newest member of the CARE for AIDS team, Summer Intern Anna Wilke!

I grew up about 20 miles south of Atlanta in Fayetteville, Georgia with my parents and one younger brother. My family and I were very involved in activities at our school and in our local church. I am currently a junior at Auburn University with a major in Nutrition Dietetics and a minor in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies. At Auburn I am very involved in my church, my sorority, and recruiting for the football team. In my free time I love drinking coffee, reading, traveling, being outside, and spending time with my family and friends.

            In high school I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya twice and spend time talking and sharing with Kenyan students. It was on these trips that I got a glimpse of what CARE for AIDS is doing in live and communities there. I was able to visit some of the centers in Nairobi and go on a few home visits with the Kenyan staff. While visiting these centers I really fell in love with CARE for AIDS and their mission to love and care for families affected by HIV/AIDS.

            On my very first home visit I met Mary, who really brought the mission of CARE for AIDS to life for me when she invited us into her small, one-room home and told us her story. Mary had a husband and four children all of whom abandoned her when she learned her HIV+ status. While in the CARE for AIDS program Mary was working toward her financial independence and had begun to have a relationship with her four children again. Mary did not speak English so she used a translator to tell us her story. Before we said goodbye to Mary the leader of our group asked if we could pray over her, and while I don’t remember exactly what we said I remember Mary starting to cry during the prayer, and what she said afterward has stuck with me ever since. She said that even though she didn’t understand what we were saying she could feel how much God loved her and the redeeming work He was doing in her life. In meeting Mary, I caught just a glimpse of the love, respect, and support that CARE for AIDS shows their clients and it got me so excited for the work they are doing!

            I love the holistic approach that CARE for AIDS uses to love individuals and families and I am looking forward to being apart of it this summer! I am so excited to see how God uses my time working alongside and learning from the CARE for AIDS team this summer!!

 

Meet Mildred

“I was the second born of four children,” says Mildred. “Three girls and one boy. And I had only one mother and one father.”

During childhood, Mildred was an athlete. She loved sports, but she couldn’t play them at school, because she had to drop out before she reached high school. It’s a story like many others in her country -- with very little money to cover school fees, there is no opportunity to receive an education.

“Things are much more difficult today because of this,” Mildred explains.

Later, Mildred went to work as a house girl in Kisumu. She stayed there for what she says was “quite some time” and then got married in 1988. Within five years, she and her husband had become parents to three healthy children, the last of which was born in 1993. Sadly, Mildred’s husband died just a year later.

“I knew I needed something,” she says. “I knew I must pray.” And pray she did. Thankfully, Mildred was able to continue working as a house girl until 1998 when she started her own business selling goods such as cereal, rice, bananas, avocados, and eggs. When she started getting sick, Mildred went to get tested and was diagnosed with HIV. Despite this terrible news, she kept moving forward.

“I was not afraid of finding out my status,” she says, “because I had my children and I knew I couldn’t be afraid. There are many people sicker than I am. But I was still working. I still have a place to sleep. I saw that God loved me and this made me strong enough.”

Eventually, Mildred joined the program at her local CARE for AIDS center, where she and her family learned more about the Bible, and she was able to receive education, additional nutrition, and emotional support.  

“Because I am saved, I see that my life is not bad,” she says. “And I pray a lot. I want to keep developing my business so I can build my own house and send my children to school.”


 

 

Mildred's story is one of 100 CARE for AIDS client and staff member stories recorded in our coffee table book, 100 Faces. Learn more about this project here. 

Long Live Mom

At CARE for AIDS, we know it's every mother's dream to raise and educate her children. This Mother's Day, you can make that dream come true. Every dollar you donate between now and May 14th will help sponsor a mom in the CARE for AIDS program. Our nine-month program empowers moms to live 20-25 years longer than they would without additional care. Give today and join the cause of orphan prevention. Long live mom!