An African girl was carrying an orphan on her back. Seeing this, a visitor looked up to the sky and cried, "Why must children carry such heavy burdens?" The little girl tugged on his pant leg and said, "He's not a burden; he's my brother."
AIDS was taking a toll on Nyahururu, Kenya. Parents were dying, relatives were exhausted, children were orphaned, and families were destroied. We needed a solution and fast.
This book is about three things: a dream, a project, and a discovery. Our dreams was to help society see orphans as brothers, not burdens. Our project was to build a home where orphans could rise up and discover the fullness of life. Our discovery was that, as we strugled to make our dreams a reality, the orphans lifted up the very community which had rejected them, and they helped us to discover the fullness of our lives.
This booklet recounts how our community has lived with and cared for children with HIV/AIDS. Though the children have not written this book, they are its centre and soul. Each day, they teach us new life lessons.
For ten years, our sisters have journeyed through dark valleys of despair and climbed high hills of hope, seen the devastating forces of stigma and felt the determined grip of death. But we stand strong. In the face of darkness, we see the shining light of angels. It directs us to dismiss doubt and embrace hope because love banishes fear.
The children of Talitha Kum have rekindled my spirit and brought me closer to the Lord. I believe that children with HIV/AIDS have important missions to fulfil. Personally, they have helped me to cross denominational boundaries and taught me how precious life is. Christ comes in their disguises, and he comes to give us life. "Love gives life" is, in fact, the motto of our home.
We are grateful to the community of Nyahururu and friends of Talitha Kum who have journeyed with us through leaps and bounds. You have given us hope in the face of hopelessness, courage in times of doubt, and strength in times of weakness.
I hope that this book will not only be an account but an invitation, an invitation to take that first step in encountering the weak and marginalized people around you. If you do, you will experience something wonderful and mysterious: the gift of sharing with the poor.
A Dimesse Sister
Talitha Kum Children's Home