Living with AIDS


We had a powerful time today with the members of DANSO. Danso is the community of people living with HIV/AIDS that we have supported and loved for the past 7 years. As a matter of fact it was our encounter with this group of people that got us started in Worldcomp.

I had asked the director of the group to invite several of the women to share. The first one to share was a woman named Charity. Charity is a very spunky woman. When she opens her mouth the whole world is lifted by her enthusiasm for life. When Charity first came to DANSO seven years ago she was very frail and very near death. But as the members of the group began to counsel and support her she began to improve rapidly. At this present point in her life her blood readings are those of a very healthy woman. She is now a dynamic community health worker who has a huge impact on people with AIDS in her whole community.

The second woman who shared was a woman who just joined DANSO three years ago. She came as a destitute woman, but in only three years she has become the most proficient seamstress at DANSO and she now trains many women to sew and make a living.

Then there was our sweet friend Caroline. We first met Caroline 3 years ago as she was making candles on a rented candle machine at one of the Salvation Army bases. The machine was in terrible condition but Caroline slugged her way through and managed to make a few dozen candles a day to support her family. Caroline however was the inspiration for us to buy DANSO a candle-making machine 2 years ago. Through the use of that machine Caroline has now managed to raise enough money to build her own house and she and her children now live there. She also teaches candle making to scores of other women who use their skills to make a living. If you remember, the candle machine that we bought can make 72 candles at once, so Caroline and her disciples make hundreds of candle each time they are together.

Finally there was Anastasia. Henry introduce Anastasia by telling us that her story was a very sad one, but he wanted us to hear a real life story from a woman living with AIDS and a very bad living situation. Anastasia told us that her husband has AIDS but does not want to talk about it or treat the problem. More tragic than that is the fact that he verbally abuses her and regularly beats her. She cannot leave because she has no place to go but the streets. Several years ago he threw her out of the bedroom and she now sleeps on the couch in the living room. With each passing month she became more and more demoralized and depressed. Then several years ago she had a stroke, brought on by her AIDS and she now walks with a limp and her left arm is shriveled and useless. For the past two years she has not used her hand or her arm and carries her arm tightly to her side. She has been trying to make a living selling multi-purpose soap, but she is allergic to the chemicals in the soap and she has developed breathing problems because of it. When she finished with her heart-breaking story, Valerie said “You know what! We are going to pray for you and your life is going to be changed.” So we started praying. The prayer turned into a roaring prayer meeting with everyone in the room crying out to God for this poor woman. After a while Valerie and several others took hold of Anastasia’s arm and began to pray for it. She has not been able to move her fingers or lift her arm for several years, but after prayer Valerie said, “Now try to move your arm”. To the amazement of all her friends she immediately lifted her arm over her head and began to move it around. Within a few minutes she was moving her fingers and was able to lift a bottle of water in her hand. All of us knew as we watched her that this woman was going to gain the full use of her arm with some physical therapy. Well she couldn’t afford physical therapy, but all her friends pledged to help her with the exercises to gain her strength back in her arm. It was a powerful time.

One of the members of the DANSO board shared how happy they were to have Valerie back. The last two times I visited them alone. He said that Valerie was “The Fire” in Richard’s life. I have to say, “It’s true!” She has this amazing gift of diving right into things with absolute faith. She is the hot sauce on my nachos!

It was so exciting to see how the businesses of DANSO have taken off. They now own 6 sewing machines and are really going great guns on making school uniforms for kids. Many of these are donated to poor children in the slums. Two years ago we helped the DANSO young people buy their first two computers for their computer training school and Internet café. The School has really taken off. When we entered the room there were 10 students using 10 computers to learn computer skills and believe me they were focused. The one thing they lacked was a router to enable them to have Internet services on a number of computers at the same time. We were happy to commit ourselves to buy this for them, because we can see the vision of this place being a very popular cyber café in Dandora.

No group in Kenya could be more grateful for the assistance they have received from us at Worldcomp. We have made a huge impact here.

THE KARA KIBERA KIDS CENTER

Following our visit to DANSO we headed off to visit our Kara Kibera Kids Center. Going into the Kibera Slums for the first time is a mind blowing experience. Not in our wildest imaginations could we in America visualize people living in these kinds of conditions. It’s so awful, but this is home for 1.3 million people in Kenya. We are in Kibera for the kids. Everywhere you look in the slums there are unattended children wandering around in filthy rags. Many of them are like stray dogs foraging in the trash for food. This is what moved Mary and John Indagiza to start the school and feeding center. Over the last 5 years I have witness for myself the transformations in the lives of the children we serve. Their health and their countenance has dramatically changed for the better as we have fed them and introduced them to the love of Jesus. I love to go and visit these kids and everyone we bring there feels the same. We have consistently managed to provide money for food for them, but I wish we could find some money to help them with other things. They have some desperate needs. They need new toilets. They need 30 bags of cement to finish their walls, they need a few hundred dollars a month to rent more rooms and they need support for their 9 workers. Each time we are with them we pray that God will provide.

It so great to have Del Irwin and Corbett Stubbert with us to witness what God has done here in Kenya. The Lord has done great things for us and we are so thankful.

Bless you all back home.

Richard