This week, I want to tell you the stories of some of the women I have met in Africa. I was laughing, yesterday, when a local nonchalantly said "Oh, you know men, they can't handle business like us."
It starts with Safina, who I met friday. 11, and sick with AIDS, she's been walking an hour to school every day, 3 hours other days to get the ARVs needed for her disease.
Her grandmother called Safina in from digging casava roots when we arrived. She came running with her brothers and cousins, swishing through the matoke trees and bent down, quickly, out of breath but ready to greet us. She was quiet. Really quiet. She sat and watched while we talked about her. It happens this way, often. The children with AIDS are picked out from their siblings and cousins to go to Mzungu for a photo, to be asked what they want to be when they grow up, to have their grandmothers grab arms and legs and ears to show sores, or feet to show abcesses.
As we talked, Safina's picked at the dirt beside the mat she sat on, and looked up when her name was mentioned. Her grandmother tried to get us to stay for tea, and said her most pressing need is her home - it caves in, often, and the village has to help her build it back up.
Safina's grandmother took her and her siblings on after her own children died. It's like that, often, here. I have been told that the generation in between the children and grandparents here has been lost, almost completely, to AIDS.
I came home discouraged, on Friday. Safina was one of those children I couldn't handle seeing without help. Some people's stories grip you and settle in the bottom of your gut - they disturb in a way that is almost physical.
I posted about her, and a dear friend responded within minutes - offering to sponsor her for the $30/month it will cost to get her a delivery of rice, beans, cooking oil, kerosene and other necessary supplies, along with the cost of her transportation to get medication.
Thank you, friend, your donation made such a difference.
I'm walking, breathing, talking the difference.
So is Safina.
Sponsorships work two ways. The first is provision for a family. Donela schools take the hit if a child is very needy, and give their monthly sponsorship to their family for monthly food and transportation fees to get free ARVs provided by foreign aid. The second is provision for a child's schooling, after the family has already been provided for by the first sponsorship. Safina was a special case. It would take her three hours to walk to the closest Donela school, and the road we traveled was hardly one for walking - let alone driving (It took us about an hour - Ugandan drivers are of the ideology, I think, that anything is possible with God), so her sponsorship is just for food and medication.
For more information on children like Safina, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or me - email@example.com