Dr. M. A. Thomas affectionately referred to Hopegivers missionaries as “fragment collectors.” We collect the fragments of society – like the orphaned, abandoned and at-risk children, lepers, widows and Dowry Castaways – in the name of Jesus. There is another segment of rejected souls in society. These are innocent victims of AIDS – the children born to HIV infected parents. When born to an AIDS infected mother, a child has very little chance of escaping the eventual ravages of this disease. These children eventually lose their parents to the disease and are left to wander the streets looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. If not rescued, they will either die of starvation or worse.
Many, particularly in rural villages are uneducated and do not understand the disease and how it is contracted. Like leprosy, that misunderstanding causes many to believe that by helping the children (orphaned because of the diseasehey will become exposed. Jesus will always raise up special members in the Body of Christ that have a heart to serve in hopeless circumstances like these. That is how others learn about the unconditional and non-condemning love of Christ.
Pastor K. did not come to know Jesus as his Savior until he was a teenager. He was so taken with the love of Christ that he chose to go to Bible College after the 10th grade. He wanted to learn more about his Savior and how he could share his new life in Christ with others. When he graduated at the end of three years he said, “The Bible has completely changed my life!”
Although Pastor K. came from a wealthy family, he chose to return to the village where he grew up as a child and start a church. The Lord has led him to minister among the very poor and the sick. Since returning, many of the villagers now worship in his church. Pastor K is married and has two children.
AIDS in the village…
Pastor K. became aware of 37 families in his village with at least one member dying of HIV/AIDS. These families have 58 children between them. As the parents die from AIDS, the children are left on the streets to starve. This pastor is taking these children into his tiny, one room home.
At the present time, Pastor K. is caring for 30 children who were orphaned because of this terrible disease. Six of the children are in stage 2 or stage 3 of the disease. All of the children are HIV positive, but they are not symptomatic at this time. It could be several years before the disease becomes fiercely active in their little bodies.
Pastor K., his wife and their two children continue to share their tiny home with these orphans in spite of very cramped quarters. They struggle to provide nutritious food, proper clothing, and the right medication needed for children who are fighting this disease. Every month, Pastor K. takes the sick kids over 100 kilometers (62 miles) for treatment at the district hospital.
Two years ago the pastor faced a lot of resistance from the parents and teachers at the local school. They did not want the orphans going to the school for fear their children would become infected. It took time and a lot of effort to finally convince them that the orphans pose no threat to anyone at the school. Getting an education is a major form of encouragement for these kids
Meet Some of the Children…
Anusha’s story is common for children infected with AIDS. Anusha’s father was a truck driver and was gone for long periods of time delivering goods from city to city. He was unfaithful to his wife and – although both were unaware – became infected with HIV. They discovered the problem only after Anusha was born. Her parents felt so guilty for infecting their new baby that they both committed suicide. Anusha’s grandmother brought her to the pastor for care. to care for.
Anusha is now eight years old and in spite of the pastor’s effort to explain the disease to her, she chooses to believe she simply has a cold and a cough. She loves to play with the other kids at the orphanage, but is not physically able to play as often or as long as she would like. The doctors tell Pastor K. that her health problems will increase dramatically over the next five years. She needs more nutritious food in order to boost her compromised immune system. Severe financial shortages prevent the pastor from providing the special food as often as she needs it.
Anusha prays every day that God will cure her. She wants to be a nurse some day at the hospital where she gets her monthly treatments.
Vijay’s father became ill 14 years ago. While he was in the hospital being treated for his illness, he was accidentally given an injection that was tainted with the HIV virus. Unaware of what had happened until much later, he unknowingly infected his wife. Only after Vijay was born positive with the HIV virus did they understand what had happened.
Vijay was 10 years old when his father died. Only then did his mother explain that both she and Vijay were HIV positive and what that would mean for their future. Pastor K. took Vijay and his mother into their home. Unfortunately, Vijay is already in stage 2 of the disease.
When Vijay hears people talking about the disease, he gets very upset. He doesn’t want to die – what child does? He prays every day that God will heal him and his mother. He has become so distracted and discouraged by the increasing symptoms that he finds it difficult to focus on his studies or sleep at night. He often refuses to take his medicine and doesn’t want to eat. He has become very thin and weak. The doctors and his mother have told him that he can stay healthy and live a much longer life if he will take his medicine and eat his meals.
How devastating for any child to watch his father die of a disease that will eventually take his life as well!
For the safety of the children and the Pastor and his family, we cannot divulge the exact location of this ministry. As you can imagine, the living conditions are difficult for this Pastor with all of these children and his family living in one room. The sick children sleep together on a large bed while the pastor, his wife, their two children and the children who are not sick sleep on the floor. Because our God is faithful this pastor is certain that He will lead other faithful believers to have compassion for these children and help him provide for their needs.
Won’t You Help…
Most of the needs for these children and the Pastor are obvious. The immediate need is to build onto the existing structure so that the Pastor and his family can have separate living quarters.
Our prayer is that we can locate and purchase property near the Pastor’s existing residence and build a Hope Home that will accommodate 75 children. The new Hope Home would also need toilets, electricity and a kitchen.
The need for more nutritious food is a daily challenge. Funds for clothing, medication and medical treatment for these sick children are critical.