When people ask me what Food for the Hungry does, it’s often phrased like this: “What do you give people?”
Most of the time they expect to hear that we give food. It’s in our name, after all.
Today my colleagues in Uganda sent a great story about a woman named Nighty. She is “living positively with HIV-AIDS,” and she has five children, including Joseph (pictured above). She was always getting sick, so on the advice of her doctor, she was tested for HIV. She tested positive; for three years she lived in stunned denial, afraid of the stigma and social isolation that revealing her positive status would bring on her and her kids. She weakened every day that she didn’t treat her condition. Joseph and his siblings were pulled out of school because the family couldn’t afford the fees.
FH came into the family’s life and yes, we gave them things. Joseph became one of FH’s sponsored children. We worked with a church to help Joseph pay his school fees, buy school supplies, and purchase the required school uniform. We also helped Nighty access her antiretroviral drugs. Joseph, too, is HIV positive and is able to lead a full life because he’s taking antiretrovirals as well.
But there’s much more to it, than giving stuff. Here’s Nighty’s testimony to what FH provided:“FH has restored my hope in life after 25 painful years. Now I know I will live and see my children grown and become responsible people of God. Thanks, FH!”
Joseph has gained more than a chance to go to school. His family is active in a church now. Nighty says he prays at every opportunity. He loves his Sunday school lessons. He’s not hiding at home, waiting to die.
There’s a small reference in the story I received that notes that Joseph and Nighty are “positively adhering to their ARV” (anti-retrovirals). It takes hope to do that. It’s not enough to give people the drugs; Nighty could have accessed drugs at the moment she was diagnosed, but when she didn’t have hope, she denied her status for three years and didn’t take the drugs. The lack of hope nearly killed her.
I’m glad FH was there to give not just stuff, but hope, too.
The story this post is based upon was written by an FH colleague named David Livingstone Olanya. I wish to give him credit not only for the story but for being Christ to people without hope in northern Uganda.