South Africa has the highest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world - 5.6 million. The AIDS Hope project, supported by The Freedom Challenge, is providing opportunities, education and hope for children and families affected by the disease. This is the story of how one volunteer was impacted while working at the project
When Monika, one of our volunteers, joined AIDS Hope, she found it very tough. The stories about the kids’ backgrounds broke her heart causing her to spend time alone in the prayer garden crying and praying to God.
HIV is a real problem in South Africa. It is not just about statistics or stories on social media; it is real people and families who are being affected.
Each afternoon, Monika worked with a small group of children in the afterschool program to help them with their homework. One boy in her class was doing very well in school even though he struggled with certain subjects. He had a positive attitude and was generally well behaved in class.
One day, Monika picked up that something was bothering him, but she wasn’t sure what was wrong. Later after class, he shared: “Mam, I’m afraid of dying.” His uncle had become quite ill at home and the young boy was afraid that he would also become sick.
“I just wanted to give him a hug and cry with him,” Monika said, feeling heartbroken after hearing the boy’s story.
Many of the children that AIDS Hope is reaching out to, have seen their family members and caregivers become ill. It’s hard to imagine what kind of fears they go through, especially when they are just seven to 13 years old. On the other side, the difficult situation isn’t hopeless; it encourages Monika to give them hope and share about Jesus. “Because Jesus is our hope, you don’t have to be afraid,” she told him.
No longer afraid
This young boy believes in Jesus and lives a life that is not defined by sickness or fear. God is amazing. He makes everything beautiful in His time and causes all things to work together for our good.
Doubt and struggles may come, as we are human, but let’s learn how to trust God even when life is hard. We can hold on to the living hope and salvation that God has given.