I mentioned in a previous post that I had a story of transformation to share with you:

 

I traveled upcountry at the beginning of the month with a couple of collegues from North America.  We visited several projects led by one of our partners.  The final stop of a full day was just off the road where we sat in chairs under a tall shade tree with several women and one man circling us to tell us their stories.

As we listened to how our funds and training had helped the partner provide the same for this community we heard many stories.  There are so many stories that they begin to swirl together in my mind.  Two women stand out very clearly, however.  The two women stood at seperate times to tell us that without the efforts of our partner, they would each be dead from having sold their bodies to feed their families.  These women stood there and said out loud, in front of their neighbors, that they were close to doing something unthinkable, but because of their situation was not as unthinkable as letting their family starve.  They mentioned that when their spouses died the decision to sell themselves would have led to disease, perhaps abuse, and probably death.  These two women, independently of one another, stood and thanked us (and by extension YOU) for helping our partner help them learn about raising thier own crops to eat and sell and about animal husbandry. 

 

It was awesome.

I was reading The Skeptic’s Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis, revised ed. this afternoon by Dale Hanson Bourke.  I may have mentioned this book before.  I could not go any further after I read the following before I shared it and the above story with you.

“Having someone in the family who is ill often takes a situation that is already difficult and makes it catastrophic.  If the person is the primary wage earner, the family can lose all their income and their primary source of food.  Children often must stop going to school because they can no longer pay the school fees.  Other results include a high risk of sexual and labor exploitation of women and children who are desperate for food and basic necessities.  When a member of the family dies, funeral costs can put the family into debt.  Illness and death  associated with HIV/AIDS causes a downward spiral for a family, not only reducing their current income and standard of living but also robbing their future chances of moving out of poverty.” p56

This just reinforces the theme of Embracing AIDS.  These two women certainly felt embraced by the work done together with us and our partner.  They were not shunned but loved.  They were not mocked and left to die but embraced with grace.  May we learn from this community and embrace with grace and love those around us who are different, hurting and in need.

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