It is anything but “rare” when I experience the absolute joy of sharing your gift when it can make all of the difference in the world. Often it is the difference between hope and despair or in the story that follows – between life and death.
Grace (name changed) is the 42-year-old mother of four children. I met Grace for the first time last week in Mukhobola –near Lake Victoria and the Uganda border. Mukhobola is about as close to the end of the Earth as I get as I make my weekly trips to the ten HIV clinics I cover as the consultant. These journeys are a counterpoint to rounding on the congested wards at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
I was sitting in on the multidisciplinary team (MDT) charged with reviewing the cases of those whose HIV was no longer under control in spite of having access to modern antiretroviral drugs. Grace used to have her virus fully suppressed, but for some reason, she was totally out of control. The group poured questions at her –probing for a reason for her sudden loss of control. Grace responded with an all- too familiar story.
Grace used to cook and sell her food as a small roadside business. The hours were regular, and she could watch her children, earn money, and take her HIV medications right on time. Then her husband left her. She lost his income and had to face her disease and her children’s needs all alone. The only job she could find was working in the nearby rice fields. The pay was Ksh 100 per day ($1), and she had to be in the field before daybreak and return home well after dark. Even worse, the pay was often delayed –and always inadequate.
She gave it everything she had, but she couldn’t feed her children, stay on her medication schedule, or see any reason to even go on with life. The MDT team pondered her challenges and simply had no answer. But you were there.
With funds from the Humanitarian Fund, Grace is able to rent a small roadside room for $7 per month. We provided her the necessary materials like charcoal, sugar, beans, and flour. Now Grace can return to her business selling beans and chapatti meals to those who pass her new shop. Her hours will be regular, her medications on time, and her children back in school. The total capital to send Grace on her way to recovery was $185.
Often the amount of money needed is less than what Grace required and occasionally it is more, but having your support fills me with a warmth that affirms what life is really all about.
Your gifts give life to neighbors like Grace and also to this old doctor.