Today I danced with a beautiful young girl who is HIV positive. How do you even start to explain the emotions that flow through you at a time like that, when you want so badly to feel happy and joyful but you know how hard life must be for this one little girl? This experience gave me a glimpse of life here and how it really is. We went to an HIV/AIDS affected area. The stories we heard were about people with the disease. Many stories went that their mother and father both had the disease, but would not accept it or they did not know. The people would be hospitalized for days at a time; none of the doctors would tell them that they had it. Their families shunned them, because many people thought that the disease was witchcraft or a family curse. When someone found out about their disease they would not take the pills (ARVs) because they did not want to believe that they had the virus. This little church we visited had a support group for people who were positive for the infection, so that they could live positively, and not feel bad about themselves. Many people there were very open about their infection. They talked about it like it was an everyday topic. They all told us what their healthy immunity count was and what it was before they started their medication. One woman that talked has lived with the virus for 19 years. The stories were very impactful. I met a young girl today who was my age. She told me that when she was seven her mother and father died of AIDS. She had nowhere to go because her grandmother lived in Kenya and her and her brothers live in Uganda. So they traveled by themselves to their grandmothers house and live there with her now. She told us that it is hard because she misses her mother sometimes. The support group at the church has helped her to accept who she is and to accept that she is HIV positive.
I also played with some small children who came into the church. They were wonderful, I got to talk a little to them by asking them their name and how they were, because that is all of the Swahili that I know. They were the cutest four kids in all of Africa or at least Kenya. We made them laugh by tickling them and making funny faces. I found that to make these kids see our love for them you definitely have to leave your comfort zone and get out there and just do it. It was funny to see that the same thing that kids laugh at in the states kids laugh at in Kenya. I went back to a table and grabbed a sandwich and gave them each some. They looked at it like they had never seen something so delicious. It was a very eye-opening thing to me because I realized what to me is just an ordinary PB and J is like trying chocolate for the first time. That made my day.
Here are a few of the cutest kids in Kenya…
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