This is Brian he is in class 8. He has 3 younger brothers. At 14 years old he is the head of his house. Brian and his brothers lost both parents to AIDS. They have since had to drop out of school because they can’t pay the fees. The boys have a few income generating activities they are trying. As you can see in the picture they are raising rabbits to sell.
This is Lillian. She is living with HIV and a single parent to 4 children. She teaches early child development at the local school.
This mama is a caretaker for total orphans who have nowhere else to go. I have run into this more times than I have wanted and yet, thankful for generous people willing to take in children that are not their own.
As you can see in this picture this family can only afford to send 4 of their 6 children to school. You may have noticed that there is a set of twins. How do you decide which twin gets an education and which one stays home to tend to the house? Can’t be easy.
This little girl is 1 of 7 in a single parent household. They live in a single room no bigger than a dorm room.
Over the last 2 days I have visited 22 homes with field workers from an OVC (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) organization. Many of the children are infected with HIV, but all of them are affected by it in some way, either they have lost a parent(s) or their parent(s) are living with HIV.
I have been way out in the bush, hiking through weeds and thistles sometimes up to my waist earning the scratches on my arms and legs that I have acquired. However, I was repaid with insanely gorgeous views from the hills. (Pictures just can't capture it.)
I will be passing out nets at least through the end of the year, thanks to some amazing people in Franklin.
It has been interesting getting to sit and talk with so many, sharing stories, and educating on malaria and what it can cost (both monetarily and in lives.)
This week I have been to some homes of the poorest of the poor that I have seen in my district (and well probably in my 28 years.) I still can’t get over 7 children plus a mother living in a space the size of my college dorm room. At some point I have partially shut myself down. I think you have to, to be able to witness these stories before your eyes over and over again. At least for me it has been a necessary tool. I have been coming home the past few weeks after handing out nets exhausted and I can’t say that it is entirely from the heat and all the walking.
One of the things that is so good about working with this OVC association is that they have fieldworkers that will make visits to the homes to check on the kids. They will also be checking that the mosquito nets have been hung and are being used. You can pass them out and educate but can’t always be certain people are using them. At least with these 700 kids we will be able to continue the malaria discussion and encourage the use of a bed net.
I can only hope that these families will recognize how much they could save (not to mention the life of their child) if they just use their nets.