Saturday, November 1, 2008

Positive People

When you hear this question, you begin to think "Do I view my glass as half full or half empty?". We consider this a question about perspective.

In Uganda, it's a whole other question. They use the terms Positive and Negative purely to indicate status. .HIV status to be exact.

"I am Positive" is a death sentence for most. A label that says as much about the pain they have been through as it does about their health care. Most people are immediately shunned when their status is known.

"I am Negative" is usually followed by a story about the people in their family who are Positive.

I am not joking when I say that EVERY person who shared a story with us, included someone dying of AIDS. For many, it was the story of a child who didn't survive.

One of the most heartbreaking stories we heard was the one of Mary. Sweet little Mary. We were in Soroti at the time and headed to Oteboi (the forgotten boys) and decided to stop in at Amicet (om-i-chet). This wasn't a possible ministry site for us, but a place that our guide wanted us to see. The sweetest woman, Els, from Holland led this ministry. They do short term care for hiv+ children, helping them get healthy enough to go back to their families. They found precious Mary in a village. Her uncle was not feeding her and wouldn't bring her into "town" for meds. His response? "Why waste time on a dead thing". Look at her eyes. I wish you could have held her like I did. I wish you could have felt the TB that was causing her heart to pump so loudly that I could feel it when I laid my hand upon her chest. I wish you could have fallen in love with her. She is no longer a dead thing. She is being nursed back to health and will start her ARVs (anti retroviral / hiv meds) soon. She is a face for this problem. When you hear people talk about hiv, put her face in your mind. It will keep us from treating them as "dead things" by our lack of action, activity, passion or love. As I was holding her, I thought of how scared many people in the states would be of her. . of her hiv status, her tb, her history. and yet, holding her I am sure that not ONE person could feel that way if they could have stood in my shoes. I didn't want to leave her. I would have packed her away and carried her to America if that was allowed. She is not a dead thing. . she is a precious child of the Father.

Els said something that was incredibly profound as we sat there praying for her and her ministry. She pointed to this wall. A wall full of pictures of the children that had lived there. Many of the pictures had stars on them. The stars indicated children who had died. Else looked at the wall and said, "you see the stars? I knew them all". Pray with me for Els who gives her life to hurt for these children. To nurse them back to health, to love them. . for some to hold them as they die. . for all, to show them a Jesus who loves them.


karin said...

Hey Brandi,

You should check out and I can get you a copy of the DVD. It's put out by CrossRoads, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ and tells the story of 4 people who are HIV+ but have found hope in Christ. Made me cry. (also a shameless plug because several of my friends produced it). Anyways, I bet you'd really love it.


Diane Larson said...

Oh,Brandi,your heart inspires me. I wanted to email you. I just finished reading "the Forgotten Children". It is about Uganda, though knowing you, I am sure you have read it. Where is Uganda today with this conflict? Sometimes I feel so ignorant of the world. I will check out Red Letters also.
Much love,

Jackie Sue said...

It is amazing to think of how a simple word can have such a different meaning....perspective...thanks for giving me that :) love you!