Rather than experiencing the isolation and rejection that once came with a diagnosis of HIV, Hanifa and her family now enjoy the encouragement of friends and the support of people who understand their situation.
Nsambya, UgandaThe walk isn't long from the Compassion center to Hanifa's home. Still, she lives uphill a ways, and in the rainy season the mud can make for an interesting journey. The entryway to her home is tiny, and Hanifa must stoop to get through the doorway.
However, you won't hear Hanifa complain about the tight quarters of the crowded home she shares with her mother and six nieces and nephews or the mud she must scrub from the floor. Hanifa is grateful to simply be alive.
Like many children in her community, Hanifa lost her father to AIDS when she was quite young. It wasn't until eight years later, in 2002, that she began showing signs that she might also have the dreadful illness. After a time of training and counseling, a test confirmed that she was HIV-positive. Her mother, Jane, was also tested and found that she too was HIV-positive.
Even with the help and benefits resulting from Hanifa's Compassion sponsorship, the family struggled to make ends meet and the news of their HIV infection was devastating. The social stigma was almost as devastating as the disease itself, and friends and family quickly distanced themselves. At a time when Hanifa and her mother needed love and support the most, they found themselves alone. Thankfully, their story doesn't end there.
Treating the Body, Ministering to the Soul
Compassion project staff began to offer additional assistance to Hanifa's family immediately. They gave the family supplemental food to boost their nutrition, and provided other domestic necessities including blankets and soap. Project workers and doctors monitored Hanifa and Jane closely for tuberculosis, malaria and pneumonia diseases that could be deadly with their weakened immune systems. Early in 2005, Hanifa's illness reached the point where she required antiretroviral therapy (ART), so Compassion provided her access and support. Although the rice and vegetables Hanifa and her family receive each month are a critical part of survival, spiritual counseling is just as crucial.
The Deliverance Church in Nsambya, a Compassion church partner in Hanifa's community, affords that help through several support groups run by a body of volunteers who offer aid to families and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.
Deliverance Church trains volunteers to effectively provide counsel and assistance. When Jane is too ill to care for her home and family, volunteers come and clean, cook or care for her little ones. If Hanifa is overwhelmed and struggling with discouragement, she is surrounded by friends who will pray for her, cry with her, and listen to her fears and dreams.
"He Will Deliver the Needy&"
Just a short time ago, AIDS was an automatic death sentence, both physically and socially. Many families suffering the devastation and grief of AIDS went on to suffer exclusion and abuse at the hands of society. But friends now greet Hanifa and her mother as they walk through the dusty streets of Nsambya. Hanifa runs to play with her friends from the Compassion center, and Jane chatters with other mothers from the church's support group. Four years after the sentence of HIV, this family can now hope to thrive, instead of simply survive.
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