Remembering the poor in a forgotten place

In this post: Access to medical care as a tool to stop HIV/AIDS

In Galatians 2:10, Paul mentions how important it is for believers to “remember the poor.” Few places in the world display this notion more obviously than the Tumaini Medical Center in Marsabit, Kenya. This part of Kenya is also referred to as the Northern Forgotten District and, of all people, those suffering from HIV/AIDS are some of the most outcast in any society.

Here, infected people — especially children — are abandoned by their families and left to die.

For these reasons, we know God is present and active at the Tumaini Medical Center, which boasts the best-equipped laboratory and staff for treating HIV-positive people within a 100-mile radius.

“We are trying all the time to reach the communities that no one else is caring about,” says Dr. Aida Samir, one of the founders of the Center.

“He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” Job 5:11

The Center has been a widespread collaboration involving Blood:Water Mission, the band Jars of Clay, the University of Washington, the Anglican Church of Kenya, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, USAID, and Food for the Hungry.

This well-equipped clinic boasts a new CD4 machine — the only machine of its kind in Kenya’s entire upper province. It assesses a person’s immune system and determines if drug treatment should begin.

While there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, the Center provides drugs (called antiretrovirals, or ARVs — they prolong life and alleviate painful symptoms) free of charge to eligible patients. This unique clinic also strongly encourages HIV testing and offers nighttime appointments to shield people from scrutiny in this place where stigma is extremely high.

Protecting the most vulnerable: newborn babies

Another way FH uses medicine to combat HIV/AIDS is by protecting babies whose mothers are HIV-positive.

“You can easily protect a new generation,” says Dr. Samir.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2009,
about 370,000 children became infected with HIV — the vast majority by means of mother-to-child transmission — and almost all of them could have
been protected, given the right resources.

FH helps HIV-positive mothers protect their children during pregnancy, labor, delivery and breastfeeding.

Normally, I cringe at statements claiming you can “save a life” by donating money to an anti-poverty organization. I think life and poverty are a little more complicated than that. But this is one case when your money really CAN save a life … it can protect a newborn child from a life of pain and early death from AIDS. Please consider joining Poverty 180’s HIV/AIDS cause for just $9 a month!