External support for increasing internal strength

by Ruth Bücker/SHU,  2011/12/01

Elefenesh is 14 years old and together with her mother and her brothers she lives on the outskirts of Debre Zeyt, a city with 100,000 inhabitants south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Abeba. She attends the literature course at her school, likes writing poems, performs excellently at school exams and, like many teenagers, she takes care of her younger siblings.

A room with a bed must be enough to live in for Tigist and her family. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Tigist is mother to two sons and she is married. Thanks to a humedica family sponsorship her children can go to school. The family lives in Debre Zeyt in one room with a bed and a cooking place in front of the room. Tigist takes care of the household and the children, while her husband works as a day labourer.

Furthermore, Elefenesh and Tigist are infected with the HI virus and they have been living with the fatal disease and its accompanying symptoms for several years, which makes their lives even more difficult.

According to estimates of UNAIDS, at the end of last year 34 million people suffered from an HIV infection. 22.9 million of infected persons live in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa alone - also in Ethiopia.

Alarming numbers that mirror a dire reality and are a reason for great concern. The main reasons for the persistently high number of infected persons, or respectively for the persistently high number of new infections per year, are ignorance regarding the virus itself or the paths of infection.

The fact that those who catch HIV and suffer from AIDS are still stigmatised and condemned by society does not contribute to making the issue or the affected persons' every-day life and emotional situation any easier.

In the framework of the humedica family sponsorship programme in Ethiopia, however, local employees fight against ignorance and condemnation. During training measures both children and adults are told what the terms HIV and AIDS mean and how the disease can be prevented.

Elefenesh's mother dries "berbere", a typical Ethiopian spice. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

What is important for persons who are already infected with the virus, is a re-integration into society and to help them to live despite of the disease and with it. Also training measures with the topic of how to prevent other persons from contracting the disease are held on a regular basis. So are the tests that local employees conduct with all the supported families.

The stories of Elefenesh and Tigist are proof of the fact that these measures show positive results. Day by day the two strong women demonstrate that they can show commitment and optimism in every-day life despite the infection. That – though their lives have changed – they need not hide themselves.

humedica employees in Ethiopia had several informing and reconciliatory talks with Elefenesh and her family, so that the young woman received the necessary support to attend school once more after receiving her positive HIV test result.

She is an excellent student. For bad days, when she feels ill, she has a special permission to leave her classroom for short periods even during lessons. When she is not at school, she helps her mother with running a small sales stand that opens into the street in front of their two-room apartment.

When Tigist's eldest son was born HIV positive, the care offered by humedica gave her the necessary strength to accept her disease, and the will to change her situation. During training measures she learned how women who are already infected can nevertheless bear healthy children. She works as a midwife and supports women who share the fate of her disease. Her second son was born HIV negative.

At the age of merely 14, Elefenesh wrote a touching and reflective poem that expresses what is important in life. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Both women demonstrate that with internal strength and external support a life with the HI virus is not only possible, but worth living. In the framework of the humedica family sponsorships we support women like Elefenesh and Tigist, children and men to deal with the disease the right way.

Please do not only today, on the World Aids Day, support these people who often have contracted the virus due to ignorance or without any fault of their own, but assume long-term responsibility for the life of a person by means of taking over a humedica family sponsorship. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Family Sponsorship Programmes
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please take some time to read the following poem and think about the massage it carries. Don't you agree that the lines of this poem describe exactly what really is important in life?

Take time

Take time for reflection,
it is the source of strength.

Take time for playing,
it is the secret of youth.

Take time for praying,
it is the strongest force on earth.

Take time for learning,
it is the basis of wisdom.

Take time to love and to be loved,
it is a privilege given by God.

Take time for friendliness,
it is the path to happiness.

Take time for laughing,
as it is the music of the soul.

Take time for giving,
as it is too short to be selfish.

Take time for working,
it is the price of success.

For all this, I am grateful.

By Elefenesh Tekola, 14 years old, HIV positive

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