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.