From Dawn Patterson.
The best laid plans are plans at best. I’ve heard this quote many times. It’s held true so often in my life. This trip to Uganda was no different. I went there with a plan…many plans in fact. But one of my plans took a turn, a radical turn.
The HOPE+ sisterhood has always been about enabling HIV+ women to live longer, fuller lives through a Jesus centered relationship with a sister here in the US. But, because there is so much shame & stigma surrounding HIV, many of these women wanted….and needed….to remain private. Although Project HOPEFUL stands by the TRUTH “No shame in our game”….we needed to respect this. It’s so important for these women to understand that they have a disease….but they are NOT the disease! But, to help them….we need to understand them first.
I went to Uganda fully expecting each woman to want their “status” to remain private to everyone except to their sister.
I can joyfully tell you, that was not the case. AT ALL. Were there women who had not shared their status publicly? Yes. And we will respect that. But there are women who are joyfully sharing their stories and I would be doing them a disservice if I did not share them with you.
Take for instance Lazia. I met Lazia 2 years ago for the first time when I traveled to Uganda with my friend Cathy. She was one of our home visits. She was not strong, she was not physically well and had a relatively new relationship with Jesus. Lazia was a muslim and after her husband died from AIDS, she discovered she was HIV+. A few years later, a local pastor heard about this very sick woman and ministered to her. Through that relationship, she accepted Jesus. But because of her illness, she was very weak and wasn’t able to attend church often. It was around this time that we met her.
I met with Lazia several times on this trip and joy literally seeps out of this woman. She never stops smiling and continually praises Jesus. We had a standard format of questions that we would ask each woman and one of them was “have you shared your status with family and friends”. I wasn’t prepared for her response. With a huge smile on her face, she threw her hands up in the air and joyfully shouted “The whole town knows I have HIV! I have no shame.” You know that moment when your favorite team scores the winning touchdown and you jump in the air and shout “yes”. Well, that perfectly described how I felt AND how I reacted.
There is still so much stigma surrounding HIV. There is still much ignorance and fear. But for a small group of women, in a little town in Africa….there is no shame. They are proud. They are living positively. They are in love with Jesus. And I believe they will be the game changers.
The HOPE+ sisterhood Uganda is a 6 month commitment to be a “sister” to one of these precious women. You will encourage her, pray for her and financially assist her through a $40 per month donation. This donation will be used by your sister to start a small business so that she can obtain proper nutrition (which is absolutely essential for their ARV’s to work) and care for her children.
To learn more about this amazing ministry, please email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17