Today is World AIDS Day.
25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS
That is 5,500 people every single day
2.1 million children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS
14 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS
Her name was Peace. She was estimated to be about one years old. She was being fostered by one of my good friends but due to legal complications Peace had to come to Amani for a few weeks. Peace was so sick. TB. HIV. Pnuemonia. Sores. Malnutrition. The sores in her mouth prevented her from sucking a bottle so we would spend hours squirting the milk into her mouth until she was so exhausted she would fall asleep. There were moments when we were brought to tears at her pain. Those nights when she cried her weak cry and we felt so helpless knowing this tiny baby was in more pain then we had ever felt. And so we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. This beautiful baby girl had people across continents praying over her frail body.
She proved the nurses and doctors wrong by gaining weight, getting over her TB and pneumonia. I will never forget the first time she smiled. It was beautiful. Her smile filled her whole face and it brought joy to anyone who witnessed it. Baby Peace got healthier and healthier every time I saw her. Her adoptive mommy and the others who had the privilage of caring for Baby Peace all dreamed of the day she would walk. The day she would talk. The day she would laugh. The day she would run. God had performed a miracle and I was reminded of it every single time I saw Peace's gorgeous smile.
In July I was in the US volunteering at a teen summer camp. I didn't have internet access and lost my phone on the first day. The last day as we were packing up to leave I found my phone in someone's sleeping bag. I had 3 text messages from a good friend. "Did you get the FB message about Peace? She is really sick. Pray for her." "Peace is really bad. The doctors said there isn't anything else they can do. PRAY." "She passed away Meg..."
Beautiful Baby Peace was gone. HIV/AIDS claimed her body for its own. Of course there were times where I doubted God's miracle in her life, but today I see it once again. It's World AIDS day and instead of posting statistics that leave people numb and stationary I see my friends posting pictures, stories, letters, poems, etc... to Baby Peace. Peace is turning those statistics into a face. A reality. A Baby. A loved one.
We know Peace is in heaven, her precious body disease free, but that doesn't mean her story is over. I have a feeling it is just beginning.
This is one story of one baby that HIV/AIDS stole. Multiply this by 25 million. 25 million faces. 25 million stories. 25 million realities.