Dreaming of the Future

Dreaming of the Future

Program Helps Father Find Hope After AIDS Devastates Family

By: Ovetta Sampson, with Elizabeth Karanja in Kenya   |   Posted: August 21, 2006

Anthony says he and his son Glen would not be alive today if it were not for Compassion's Child Survival Program. "Were it not for the project, I think life would have long been over for me," he says.

Two years ago, when sickness ravaged Anthony's wife, death consumed his life. Test results revealed that the ills that plagued his wife  malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis  were AIDS-related. The lethal acronym melted any hopes of the ordinary life he'd envisioned for his three children and their days in the bucolic community of Kiserian, Kenya.

"That particular moment when I understood my wife had passed, I felt crushed," Anthony says. "I thought, 'What will I do with my children?' I thought I'd go and buy poison. We'd all take the poison and die because I did not know where to turn to."

Anthony struggled with a reality gripping millions of families across Africa. When AIDS enters your life can there be anything else but death? Can a family find a reason to continue when reality says the future is futile? In the midst of Anthony's struggle, Compassion's Child Survival Program (CSP) at the Kiserian Child Development Center in Kenya would offer this young father the courage to continue. And soon Anthony would find enough faith to believe in a future that reality told him couldn't exist.

Something Wrong With Glen

Just days after his wife's death, Anthony barely had time to grieve. His youngest son, Glen  just a toddler  was struggling to live.

"Glen was sick all the time," says Susan Muthoni, Anthony's sister. "He was so small. Instead of growing he was just shrinking. He was not walking, not speaking, even at 1 year old. We didn't know what was wrong with him."

Anthony was beside himself. Suffering from tuberculosis, he'd lost his job as a driver. He had no money or food. His wife was dead and he knew she had been HIV-positive. Could the disease have passed to his son Glen? What about his oldest daughter, Claire? Or his other daughter, sweet Brandy? And deep down, a frightening thought, what about ... ?

"I was certain I was going to die," Anthony says. "HIV kills. I was very discouraged. I had the feeling that the young boy was sick with the virus. I was hopeless and disappointed."

Evidence of Things Unseen 

The week of his wife's death, the Compassion-assisted Kiserian Child Development Center, located just a mile from Anthony's home, started a new program  the Child Survival Program (CSP). This new venture was designed to help young mothers and caregivers keep their unborn and infant children healthy during the most critical stages of development.

Anthony discovered that registering his son Glen in the Kiserian CSP program yielded more than food and information about personal hygiene. CSP counselors, seeing Glen's battle with tuberculosis, convinced Anthony to get his whole family tested for HIV. The program paid for the testing, the transportation and everything needed for Anthony and his family to access medical care.

Test results revealed Glen's HIV-positive status, and immediately the program arranged for the young child to receive aggressive ARV drug therapy. The therapy doesn't destroy the virus, but it gives new life by slowing down the disease.

"If the CSP hadn't come in, I'm telling you the truth, Glen would be now past tense," says Susan, who helps Anthony care for his children.

A Brighter Future

Glen, now 3 years old, can name the parts of his body. He walks. He talks  he's quick to tell you when he doesn't want to go to bed. And his family  well, they dream about his future.

"I have a lot of faith that Glen will grow up and be a big boy and have an education," says Susan. "I pray to God that he will be a doctor so that he can help others like CSP has helped him."

Anthony is grateful for the food and medical care the Child Survial Program provides for Glen. But he says the greatest benefit the CSP has offered him is a body of believers who encourage him daily.

"I realized that life would have to continue because of the hope that the project workers were giving me," Anthony says. "Above all (the project workers) have been counseling me that my life  the walk I am walking, the difficult moments and hard times  that in all of that I am not alone. We are walking with them. So the project has made my life brighter now, even when I thought my life was over."

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