Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ones Left Behind

I was looking at the website of an orphanage in Kenya that someone had told me to check out. They said on their website that when they received a child they would test them for HIV/AIDS and then if they were negative they would find them an adoptive family. If they were positive they were settled into the orphanage for the long haul, expected to just wait there until they turned 18 and aged out.

One tiny little + sign destroys their life. You might think it’s because they are sick or because they are dying or because they are contagious that they are stuck in that orphanage. That’s not the reason. It is because of lies, misconceptions, and stigma that they are stuck.

I wish I could gather the entire world together and stand on a big tall hill and yell…

HIV can NOT be transmitted by hugging, kissing, touching, changing diapers, sharing drinks, or wiping noses.

HIV is spread through sex, shared needles, or from mother to child. There has NEVER been an instance of accidental transmission in a household setting.

Children on ARVs (HIV/AIDS medication readily available in the states) are expected to live normal lives. They will be able to marry and one day have children of their own.

If I took you to that orphanage in Kenya you would never be able to tell me which of the children were HIV positive and which weren’t. I could leave you there for years, allowing you to unknowingly change diapers, clean cuts, wipe noses, and give kisses to the positive kids and you would not contract the disease. (The only way for this to be possible would be if an HIV positive child was bleeding, you were bleeding, and you put the two cuts directly together. The HIV virus dies when it hits the air so touching spilled positive blood with an open sore wouldn’t even give you the virus).

The only difference between the positive and negative children is that one needs medication and one doesn’t. And of course that one is left behind, while one is taken home.

Jesus doesn’t see the HIV positive kids differently. He doesn’t give up on them because of their status. He doesn’t separate them out from the healthy ones and shake his head sadly at their hopeless future. When God commanded us to look after orphans, he didn’t mean just the healthy ones. He didn’t mean just the cute ones. He didn’t mean just the babies. Orphan care isn’t supposed to be easy.

What can you do?

Spread the word! Write a blog post, make a facebook status, and/or tell your friends the truth about HIV/AIDS (you can use the video below to help)

- Donate to organizations working to bringing these kids home ( and )

- Consider adopting a HIV+ child

- Know a family considering adoption? Ask them if they’ve considered an HIV+ child and share the facts with them

- Sponsor an HIV positive child. You can do this through World Vision, Compassion, etc… or if you want to support a smaller organization check out Our Own Home, an orphanage in Uganda for HIV+ children.

Got more ideas? Let me know J

Help empty those orphanages. Help end the lies, misconceptions, and stigma. Help bring these beautiful kids home.

* facts taken from