A Family's Secret Loses Its Power
This video shows the impact of giving to the HIV/AIDS fund. It features the story of Juan.
Juan can’t remember the tragedies that blanketed the first years of his life. He was just a baby when his mother became ill, when she was so delirious that all she could do was scream. He was too young to notice the whisper of the neighbors after her death. And, years later, he doesn’t understand the sadness that still clouds the eyes of his grandmother, Maria.
But Maria does remember, with vivid clarity. Her daughter had run off with a boyfriend and had not been heard from in months. And then Maria received the phone call from her daughter, asking if she could return home with her newborn son, Juan.
“I could not recognize my daughter the day she arrived,” says Maria. “She had lost so much weight and looked emaciated, just like a skeleton.”
A Solid Foundation for the Future
Maria took her daughter and grandson to the hospital, where they were both diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis. While Juan grew stronger, his mother would never recover. The tuberculosis attacked her brain, and for four years Maria could only watch as her daughter’s body and mind were ravaged by disease.
Juan’s mother passed away in 2010, leaving the boy in his grandmother’s care. Maria made sure he went to the clinic for his medications, and carefully placed them in a vitamin bottle so the neighbors wouldn’t know of the boy’s diagnosis. But Maria struggled to provide for Juan, unable to give him the nutritious foods his body needed to fight the disease.
“I almost lost him to the welfare institution,” Maria recalls. “I had to stand firm not to allow the social workers to take Juan away from me. He is the reason for me to continue living.”
Then Maria heard about the Compassion-assisted child development center near their home. She met with the staff and, for one of the first times, felt safe disclosing her family’s secret. The center staff vowed to provide both emotional and physical support for Juan — care made possible by Compassion’s AIDS Initiative. Each month Maria received a bag of groceries to ensure that Juan had a balanced diet, making his antiretroviral therapy medications more effective.
Maria knows that one day she will have to tell Juan the reason for his mother’s death — the reason he takes bitter medicine every day. And she believes that, because of Compassion, he will have the foundation to overcome this terrible disease.