Esmé's Mommy here.
Today's posts are long. I won't apologize for that.
I promised the story behind the story today - it was supposed to be a story of an AIDS orphan center that we visited last Friday. I'll get there.
But first I have to share yesterday's story.
Last year we loaned $40 to a Maranatha worker who needed to pay for his little one's coffin. Yesterday my husband found out this same worker had a baby who was dying. Determined to do something, he took the baby to Sommerschield Clinic, one of the best medical facilities in Maputo.
The baby is 14 months old, but only weighs 13 pounds. Developmentally normal, just small and sickly. He started out healthy, but at about 3 months of age his growth slowed down. Lately he has been throwing up whatever he manages to eat.
Diagnosis? Probably HIV/AIDS. We're running a test to confirm, but because of the baby's age, it has to be done in South Africa. His mother is HIV positive, so the doctor's suspicion is that he was born HIV negative, but contracted HIV during the first two months when he was breastfeeding.
If that's the case, this sweet baby boy is dying. Because of his age, we're told the available AIDS medications are of no use to him. We're crying here. The statistics are no longer just statistics.
Backtrack to Friday. In late August, Maranatha was approached by a Mozambican gentleman, Mr. Macamo, about drilling a well for his organization, AACOSIDA (the direct translation is "Association of Friends of Children Orphaned by AIDS," or something like that). That well has now been drilled at their orphan center, and on Friday several of us went there to deliver used clothing for the children there. You can see many of the photos from this trip in our Wordless Wednesday post, and it also inspired Monday's story.
Mr. Macamo and his wife decided to foster some children from their church who had been orphaned by AIDS. Many church members pitched in to help. This got the couple thinking. There are so many others who could use help, and the government and expat charities can't do it all. How about organizing local villagers and getting local businesses to donate to assisting these orphans?
The organization now has 50 volunteer members. They've acquired 10 hectares of land - 9 being used for growing maize, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and cabbages for distribution. And they've built a center on the remaining hectare, which is still very much unfinished but already in use as a distribution and feeding center.
Their statistics indicate that they are helping 2,059 orphans. Most live with older brothers and sisters, cousins or extended relatives, and 624 have been placed with "substitute" families. These families are providing housing and care, but most are unable to provide much in the way of food and other material goods.
Mr. Macamo has not asked us for money. As he puts it, "Money just complicates things." At one stage the organization attempted to assist the families fostering the orphans with cash, but quickly realized that the cash wasn't always used as intended. But he does approach organizations and people to help with goods.
When we arrived on Friday during school hours, there were over 60 children getting lunch. A few of them were obviously sick and not feeling well, but for the most part they looked healthy and well-fed.
Here are a couple of photos of Esmé making friends and teaching them how to high-five!