AIDS survivorsA group of five young people walk in, smiling as we greet. We hug for long and in those moments, I am transported back to the first time I met each of them. Mauwa, at 6 years old, feverish and quiet, leaning against my knee as I chatted with her aunt in a slum of Mombasa. Lydia, tiny and quiet around new people, but always with a sparkle in her eyes, pointing towards her incredible intelligence. I remember each of them – hurting children, suffering from the ravages of AIDS, malnutrition, orphanhood, poverty, lack of education, and hopeless.

Now, I find myself sitting by a social worker, two teachers, a high schooler with dreams of becoming a lawyer, and an economist. How is this even possible? How did these children grow to be who they are? The answers are both simple and complicated, like most things in life.

Love, for sure, played a huge part. Lucie and Veronica never gave up on them, fighting for them, knowing their stories, walking beside them when no one else was left to do so, hugging them, and raising them in the knowledge of Jesus.

Education played another large part in their stories. They went from children with no hope of attending school to kids whose school bills were cleared and maintained paid by AFCA, who also provided them with school supplies, uniforms and all they needed to stay in school. We took these kids from primary school through university and here they sit today, adults with a future.

I am proud of them.

These five have formed a group to help other HIV+ youth to stay focused on taking their medicines daily and in keeping their viral load at zero. They know where they came from and they know where they would be if no one had reached out and snatched them from a certain death. They give God the glory, as should be, and eagerly share their stories with others to bring encouragement and hope.

Everywhere I go, I hear and see stories of hope and joy. And, I am also faced with the huge needs that still exist. I feel burdened even in my happiness. I feel the weight of the other children who need the same hope these five have (and all the others who were working today and couldn’t make it). Every school fee, every garden we grow, every well we dig, every lamp, filter, book, goat, bee hive, tree, chicken, and school uniform we gift, everything we do comes with a cost and the burden is heavy. If you have anything to give, please do so here Trust me, we will turn your donation into a story of hope and your name will be written in it.

This is about justice, not charity. The Old Testament book of Micah tells us, “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”

Let’s do it together.