We Are His

This morning's post is from CARE for AIDS intern, Anna Wilke. 


Over the past couple weeks, I have been reading Bob Goff’s new book “Everybody Always” which is about loving people, even really difficult people, without distinction, insecurity, or restriction and man is it good.  One of the chapters that stood out to me the most so far is the chapter called “The Yellow Truck” and it’s what I want to talk about in this week’s blog.

In this chapter Bob tells a story about the pickup truck he bought from his dad after he finished law school. When he bought the truck his dad told him that he would want to change the oil in the truck and it seemed like every time he saw his dad after that his dad told him that he would want to change the oil. Each time his dad mentioned the oil it would bug Bob because he didn’t like being told what to do, and even though Bob knew his dad was right and was only trying to look out for him, he still never changed the oil.

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If you’re anything like me, this situation sounds all too familiar. Whether it be from our parents, teachers, friends, or strangers, we don’t like being told what we want, we want the freedom to decide for ourselves what we want. Most of the time these people have our best interest at heart, and what they tell us we want is not mean-spirited, it just doesn’t sit well with us because. This is similar to what happens all too often in our schools, churches, and faith communities, we are told by other people what God wants us to do or not to do. Sometimes we are the people telling other people about the rules and restrictions of their faith.  When we are told what we want or what we should or shouldn’t do, what started out as faith can turn into compliance. When we tell each other what we should want, we make ourselves the police of other people’s behavior and the risk with this is that we make approval and correct behavior more important than Jesus’ love, which is the only thing that can save us.

So how do we fix this? Bob says it like this, “Instead of telling people what they want, we need to tell them who they are”. We see God do this in the Bible over and over again, He tells Moses he was a leader and he was, He told Sarah she was a mother and she was, and He told Abraham he would be the father of the nations and he was. God tells us who we are too and He tells us His beautiful, too good to imagine, hopes for us too. Our Father is not as concerned with what we do or say as He is about our hearts. He will not love us more or less based on our actions, in fact through our failures as well as our successes He continues to tell us who we are – we are His. So instead of telling people what they should want, let’s simply remind them they are His too.

Ongoing Empowerment

This morning's post is from Nairobi East Regional Empowerment Coordinator, Cate Kiare. 


In Nairobi East, we have seven facilitators who we engage on a monthly basis to facilitate economic empowerment seminars for clients at the CARE for AIDS centers. The facilitators are all former clients who were excellent in the various skills they now teach. We engage them every month for training and we meet with all of them in the Limuru office for a meeting every first week of the month. During the meeting they are able to share how the training has been, any challenges encountered, and areas they see for improvement in the economic empowerment process. The empowerment department facilitates the meeting each month and listens to their concerns.

The highlight of the meeting for me is when the facilitators share about their personal lives and request for prayers from our team. They are also able to offer advice to each other and the bond between them increases as they work together as facilitators, even if they weren't classmates at the same center when they were clients. At the end of last year, the Nairobi East facilitators agreed to start visiting each other in their homes to share a cup of tea. During the visits, they decided to teach each other the skills they tech current clients at the various centers in Nairobi. This has been so beneficial, particularly because one of our male facilitators has now learned beadmaking. He can now encourage and inspire our current male clients to do beadwork- a skill many male clients feel might be too feminine of a skill to embrace. 

These seven facilitators have even started to save money amongst themselves- they each contribute one thousand shillings every month and a member borrows the cash to return it with a 10% interest. This helps to grow the facilitator’s savings, boost their finances, and increase trust among them.

The facilitators have grown tremendously through this process, and their seminar delivery has improved. Furthermore, they have become friends, and their approach towards life is more positive. We love seeing our former clients continuing to empower themselves and invest in their own futures at the same time as they are training and investing clients who have come through the program behind them. We join in the cry of our clients and say, “long live CFA!

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Long Live Mom!

This morning's blog post comes from CARE for AIDS intern, Anna Wilke. 


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Eunice is a current client at our Ngando center in Nairobi and is the mother of three beautiful children- two daughters, and one son. Before entering the CARE for AIDS program, Eunice was unemployed because of her HIV status. Even while unemployed Eunice found a way to provide for her children. Since joining the program, Eunice, with the help of her brother, has found a way to pay for her two daughters to go to primary school. While in the CARE for AIDS program, Eunice has learned how to make soap and plans to start her own business using this skill in order to support her family. Eunice is joyful and she is very hopeful for her future and the future of her family.

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Judy recently graduated from the CARE for AIDS program. Before Judy entered the CARE for AIDS program she was hit by a matatu and ended up in the hospital with a badly broken leg. While in the hospital Judy found out her HIV-positive status. After finding out her status and having to spend all her savings on treatment for her leg, Judy’s husband left and her children had to go stay with Judy’s mother since Judy couldn’t care for them with a broken leg. Judy said after her time in the hospital she had lost her husband, her children, and her joy. While in the CARE for AIDS program Judy found Jesus and a hope for her future she never had before. Judy has confidence that her leg will heal, she will go back to work, and she will be able to bring her children home and where she can care for them and watch them grow up.

Thanks to your generosity over the years, CARE for AIDS has been able to empower thousands of hardworking, strong mamas like Judy and Eunice. As you celebrate Mother's Day with your family and friends this weekend, take a moment to remember and honor the strong mothers who have graduated from the CARE for AIDS program, those who are currently in the program, and those future clients who we will serve together in the years to come! 


 You can help us empower moms in East Africa this Mother's Day! Learn more here. 

 

Meet Ibo

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Ibo is a current client at Ruiru center. She is a 37-year-old single mom to five children ranging in age from 20 to 7 years old. Ibo found out that she was HIV positive in 2011 when she was pregnant with her youngest child. Since then, she has been living with strong self-stigma because of her status. When she gave birth to the baby, she was so ashamed that she rejected the child, often leaving him locked inside their home all day long without care hoping he would die. Miraculously, her baby survived.

Through the CARE for AIDS counseling, group therapy, and seminars, Ibo has overcome her self-stigma. She is now able and willing to talk openly about her HIV status with others and is no longer ashamed about it. She used to despise herself because of her status, but she is learning to accept who she is and be proud again. She also become self-reliant through the various skills she has learned in our program. She has learned how to make yogurt, peanut butter, bar soap, liquid soap and detergent. She is able to use these skills to make money to buy food and support her children.

When Ibo started the CARE for AIDS program, she was sick with stomach ulcers and weighed only 70 pounds because she wasn't getting enough to eat. She became so weak that she was no longer able to walk further than a few feet. Through the CARE for AIDS medical endowment fund, she was taken to the hospital and received treatment for her ulcers. She is thankful for the medical support and nutritional supplements from CARE for AIDS; because of this help her ulcers have healed and she has gained almost 25 pounds over the past few months. She is also now walking all the way to the CARE for AIDS center for seminars and counseling. She may be tiny in stature, but says she feels herself getting stronger every day.

Ibo is a Muslim, yet she enjoys and feels comfortable attending all of the CFA activities and counseling at the church where our staff have an opportunity to share the gospel and point her to our hope in Jesus. She says she knows that God has been the one who has sustained her and her children during the last 7 years.

Sight for the Blind

I’m very happy right now. Through CFA, I am seeing a lot of change for the first time in many years.
— David, Current CARE for AIDS Client

When David came to the CARE for AIDS program in January he was completely blind. His morale was low and as a result his health was waning rapidly. He’s 47 years old and he barely weighed 100 pounds when he joined the program. In addition to his sight loss and overall declining health, he was experiencing kidney failure. David has known his HIV+ status since 2012. His family has long since abandoned him. With no one to take care of him and without being able to see, he felt completely helpless and hopeless. This wasn’t the first time David had felt this way in the last few years, but this time, CARE for AIDS was there to intervene.

 

 
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Back in 2013, election-related violence in Kenya was rampant. Tension was especially high in the slum regions where armed criminal gangs were fighting. David remembers it as a time of chaos and war in the slum where he lives. Thievery was common and David was the victim of a gang that wanted to steal from him. They severely beat him, hitting him hard over the head and damaging his legs so they could take what they wanted and he couldn’t chase after them. After about a year of healing and hospital visits, David thought he had finally made a full recovery from the beating. For 20 years, he had worked slaughtering chickens for different individuals and farms. After he recovered, he went back to doing this work again in 2014.

Unfortunately the worst was still yet to come for David. One day, on the way to work, his eyes started watering profusely. He had to leave work that day because he couldn’t see from his eyes watering so badly. Shortly after that, his eyes started swelling and his vision quickly got worse. He kept working until one day everything went completely black while he was on the job. David had become totally blind.

David spent the next two years at home unable to work, unable to pay rent, unable to buy food. His friends would occasionally show up at his house and buy him food for the week, but he didn’t like being a burden on others. He decided it would be best it he died. Twice David made an attempt to take his own life and twice God intervened so that he didn’t go through with it. During the first attempt David found a mosquito net to tie around his neck and hang himself from the ceiling banister in his home. He knelt down to pray one final time just before hanging himself and said to God, “I want to come home. I’m about to show up there, so please don’t be mad at me…”

While he was praying a friend knocked on his door. They had come buy to take him shopping for food and gave him additional money to pay rent.

Unfortunately, because of his inability to work, David quickly fell far behind on his rent. At one point his landlord tried to drive him out of his home by taking his door front door off the hinges so he would have no privacy or security. David had nowhere else to go, so he hung a blanket as a door and soon, deep in depression about his state, David devised another way to take his life. He planned to swallow termite poison before bed so he would die in his sleep. Not long after making this new plan, David's friends found him a new place to live, bought him food and paid for his first few months rent in his new home. After this intervention David decided against taking is own life and decided he wanted to keep on living. 

Soon after the move his friends took him to the hospital for the first time in two years. It was 2016 and this was the first time he had been examined by a doctor since becoming completely blind. After his examination the doctor reported that neither of David’s eyes would likely see again and that, unfortunately, Davis wasn’t a candidate for surgery. David became frustrated, angry, hopeless and suicidal yet again.

 

 

A CARE for AIDS graduate client lived nearby and knew of David’s situation. She took Rose, the Health Counselor at the center in Githurai, to meet him. Rose recruited David into the CARE for AIDS program and quickly realized he needed medical attention. His face was swollen and he was incontinent and malnourished. Using the funds from the Medical Endowment Fund, Rose arranged for Geoffrey, the male champion in Githurai, to accompany David to the hospital.

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The doctor drained fluids from David’s head and face to reduce his swelling and immediately  prescribed medicine to treat David's kidney failure. He also began treatment for David’s eyes and, after doing a chest x-ray, he also prescribed medicine for pneumonia. Blood work was drawn and David’s viral load was over 2 million copies. It became clear that David had defaulted on his medication and his strain of HIV was now resistant to the ARV medication he had been taking. The doctor prescribed a new regimen of ARV medication for David to begin taking immediately to get the HIV virus under control and boost his immune system. 

Thankfully, after being on treatment for over 2 months now, David is seeing great improvement. His weight is up to 135 pounds and he has regained control of his bladder. His stress has decreased and it is likely that his viral load has decreased, though it has yet to be tested again. Wanjiku, a neighbor who often helps to take care of David, makes sure that the food he gets from CARE for AIDS is prepared for him and she ensures that he takes his medicine daily. 

David's greatest improvement, though, has been in his eyesight. While he still cannot see well, his left eye is seeing shapes, figures and colors. His right eye has difficulty in the light, but can also see better than before when he is indoors. He will be returning to the doctor again soon to have his viral load tested and, with his new ARV medication taking effect, his overall immunity will improve.  This will allow his doctor to focus more closely on a plan for continued eye treatment. 

David told us that he is no longer weak. He has more strength than he’s experienced in a long time. He boasted that he is now able to walk all the way to the market without anyone even holding his hand. Wanjiku, his neighbor, says he has improved greatly and is doing really well now. David admits that he still has challenges because he can’t work and has to be given everything he needs, but he’s happy that he is making progress and has new hope.

David attended his first seminar at Githurai center this month on ARV medication adherence and HIV prevention. He sat up front so that he could see the instructor and told us in detail all the practical information he learned that day.      

Pray with us for David's continued recovery physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is on track to graduate from the CARE for AIDS program in Githurai this fall. 


So far, CARE for AIDS has spent a total of $120 on David’s medical care. A small gift to CARE for AIDS can go a very long way in the life of an HIV+ client. If you would like to donate and empower our staff to walk alongside thousands of clients like David, visit our donation page here.