With Compassion, I am Stronger

With Compassion, I am Stronger

  |   Posted: July 12, 2010

Young boy benefits from Compassion's AIDS Initiative.
Without Compassion's AIDS Initiative Nkusi would not be the healthy, happy and stronger boy that he is today.

Nkusi* is a 9-year-old boy who is benefiting from Compassion's AIDS Initiative. Nkusi lives with his father, four brothers and one sister in a slum on the outskirts of Kigali city. It is an impoverished community, where most people survive by selling food  After her death, the paternal aunt came to help raise these young ones.

Unfortunately, Nkusi's aunt was HIV-positive, but she never knew her status until much later when she was constantly sick. Finally, she went for voluntary HIV testing, but died not long after that.

A Devastating Discovery

According to Nkusi's father, Nkusi may have contracted HIV by sharing unsterilized sharp materials with his aunt.

"My child might have contracted HIV through that miserable manner of sharing unclean materials, because neither I nor any other child has this scourge!" Nkusi's father explained.

It was not until Nkusi was registered with Compassion in 2008 that his status was discovered. After registration, the Compassion center arranged, as is usual, the general screening for the newly 60 registered children to know their status. Six of them, including Nkusi, tested HIV-positive.

"I was shocked to hear that my son is HIV-positive" said the father, adding, "I rushed to the nearby Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) center with all my children for test, and lucky enough, I and my other children tested negative".

Nkusi's father further said that "it took me some days asking myself why and how it happened to my son, but later I came to realize the cause. I thank Compassion's AIDS Initiative that helped me to realize the status of my son; otherwise I would have thought that he was bewitched."

"We identified the problem earlier, the child was put on antiretroviral medicine (ART), he was provided special nutritious diet, and he is now healthy," the father said.

Apart from attending Compassion's programs, Nkusi visits a nearby public health center for counseling and treatment every month. According to the health social worker, Nkusi is now healthy; he is performing well in school and plays with other children both at the center and in the community. "He is healthy. Still no one can know that he is HIV-positive," said Celestin, the center director.

Poverty Restricts a Father

Nkusi's father is unemployed. He used to have a small business selling potatoes and vegetables in front of his house to earn a living. The business collapsed, and he now must rely on relatives and friends who may take pity on him and give him money or food.

In addition to being unemployed, he has two children in high school and four in primary school, including Nkusi, who is in grade four.

He struggles to pay school fees and buy scholastic materials for the rest of the children who are not supported by Compassion.

"It's always very tough for me when it comes to going back to school and everyone asking money and school requirements. I feel like running out of the home," Nkusi's father lamented.

Life-giving Benefits, Restored Hope

Meanwhile, both Nkusi and his father have benefited greatly from being beneficiaries of Compassion's AIDS Initiative. One of the benefits was a small grant to rebuild their home to make it safe.

Compassion's AIDS Initiative activities have addressed and eliminated the child's health barriers and also provide nutritous food to supplement his diet.

In addition to the medical benefits of the program, the infected children are provided a small amount of money through Compassion's Complementary Interventions. This money helps the family to carry out small, income-generating activities like selling vegetables in the market, paying for health insurance, and cultivating vegetable gardens that will improve their diet.

According to Nkusi's father, the people in the communities around their homestead live in dire poverty, making an average of less than U.S.$1 per day. Only 1 percent of the residents have a permanent job.

Through Compassion's AIDS Initiative, Nkusi and his family have hope for the future. "We know the plans that God has for us, great plans to prosper our family not evil, but to give us a future," said the father.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child.

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