Let's keep girls in school

by American Foundation for Children with AIDS
Let's keep girls in school

Marie was raped when she was 16 years old by a family member after thé death of her parents. The trauma of the rape, coupled with desolation, fear, and anger left her bitter. When she found out she was prégnant, she couldn't deal with the burden of a baby and found it very difficult to love the baby.

Somehow, Marie connected with the Boyebi Center in Gemena and there, she and her baby have found understanding, love and a future. At the Center, women like Marie learn a trade, either sewing or hair dressing so that they can take care of their financial needs. Now, Marie lives with her late parents' neighbors and her baby.  She is an eager learner who is grasping the hope she's been offered with two hands while connecting with her baby, learning from other women at the Center.

Practical help is also offered to women at the Center. They are taught that there is a God who sees and loves them. When they are sick, a small fund is available to help with medicine and food. And, this month, all the trainees received feminine pad kits from the American Foundation for Children with AIDS. This gift is huge, as the cost to buy pads is prohibitive for these women, so they use scraps of cloth which don't offer protection, forcing them to miss a few days of classes each month. Thanks to the generosity of volunteers who sew the reusable pads, Marie no longer will miss classes, but even better, she won't miss being part of a community that has shown her love and hope.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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We arrive at the village in early noon, laden down with boxes with cloth, snaps, underwear, zip lock bags, and patterns. We set up shop at the front of the classroom, surrounded by approximately 250 girls and women, all ready to learn. Even though their leader told them that she had invited us to show them how to make reusable sanitary pads, they are a bit hesitant, not quite sure what to expect.

We set up the sewing machine at the end of the room and talk and laugh with the other teachers present. They are just as curious as the girls, dressed to the nines, as though attending church. While the sun beats down outside, we are all tucked into a white-walled room, with just enough air coming through the open double doors and out the window openings to allow us to breathe. I look out at the crowd and realize that they will neither see nor hear me if I stand where I am, so I climb unto a table and silence falls suddenly over the entire space. 250 pairs of eyes stare at me with some giggling mouths quickly covered with hands that can’t hold the mirth from showing in those dark, dark eyes.

I hold up a pair of underwear and clearly say, “today, we are going to talk about your period”. Gasps and moans of distress shower down on me, with those beautiful hands now hiding eyes as heads are bowed and teenaged angst and embarrassment take over most of the people in the room. I keep talking, showing them how a cloth pad kit can keep them going to school, even during their period. I snap a pad onto the pair of underwear and hold it up for all to see. I then show them how they can carry the dirty pads in a plastic bag with a bit of water and soap so that they are easy to wash when they reach home. I show them how everything comes together in a cloth bag that doesn’t show what is in it, giving the girls privacy to their personal kits.

Each time a piece of the kit is held out for all the see, more and more hands leave eyes and mouths and soon, those hands are clapping. The rich, seemingly never-ending sound of clapping fills the room as I hold a kit up, showing the girls the gift they will each receive today. I feel like a champion holding up that kit, hearing all that clapping and joy. When the sound dies down, I ask for a volunteer to help us distribute the kits and hands all over pop into the air, no longer shy, but bold and confident. They open their kits and looks of wonder cover faces throughout the crowded room. They show each other the underwear they each received, the soap, the bags, the pads. They stand at the end of our gift-giving and do the low double-clap the Shona people do to express thanksgiving. With hands cupped slightly, they do a slight curtsy and clap twice.

I clap back, smiling and smiling and smiling.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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It was such a privilege to go out to the rural area to distribute reusable hygiene kits. I found it such a humbling experience to watch these girls listen to the instructions and to see their faces when they realized what exactly they were being shown. When it dawned on them the real difference that this would make to their lives there were big smiles all round. How incredibly blessed we all have been for this to never be an issue in our lives.  These girls will be able to go to school every day of the month now with no fear of embarrassment.  What struck me was how much care and effort was put into each pack: panties, a wash cloth and soap and re-sealable plastic bags. Thank you so much to Tanya Weaver and the AFCA team for continually blessing the children!

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Donna is HIV+ and so is her husband, Ralph.  Donna is thrilled with Baylor Uganda for supporting her family within the AFCA projects.  She was supported in both the livestock and agriculture programs.  

Ralph and Donna were given seeds and goats.  They started a small banana plantation.  Farming produce allowed them to buy two additional goats to boost their livestock project.  And the livestock project is currently giving them manure to improve their banana plantation.  Donna thanks Baylor Uganda and AFCA for supporting her family and her community in general.

Liza and Missy, are just 8 and 10 years old.  They have seen a change in their parents and their life.  Their family was struggling to find food and shelter.  Their education was forgotten in the midst of turmoil.  Thankful for your generosity, they now attend school on a regular basis.  The livestock and agricultural programs saved their education, and their lives.

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa, thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Katelyn is one of the beneficiaries of the AFCA project in Karusandara.  She is an HIV+ caregiver and a widow who takes care of her three children. She has also benefited from the three trainings of crop production, animal production and village saving and loaning associations.  Katelyn is very happy with this AFCA project because of the great things she has achieved from the project.

Katelyn tell us, “The AFCA project has done great things in my life. I was given knowledge in the form of trainings in both crop and animal production which has greatly improved my farming and rearing practices. The village loaning and saving association in which we trained and started is also doing well!  I was given some goats and my animal project is also doing very well. The goats have produced and I have been able to sell some to solve some other emergencies.  I have bought cement, sand and gravel to use in the building of my home.  I hope to complete the house after this harvesting season."

Everyone here at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, and our partners in Africa. thank you for your continued support of this important project.  If you would like to learn even more about this project and others, please contact Tanya Weaver at tweaver@AFCAids.org. 

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Organization Information

American Foundation for Children with AIDS

Location: Harrisburg, PA - USA
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Twitter: @AFCAids
Project Leader:
tanya weaver
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania United States
$14,508 raised of $20,000 goal
 
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