I've seen close to a dozen new kids arrive at In Step in various conditions. Some fairly healthy, some...not so much. I've taken a lot of kids to the clinic since I got to In Step in Oct. I mean A LOT. Mostly we've done Malaria tests or Typhoid tests. I've never seen an HIV test done. Until recently. I've seen three in the past month. The first was a young girl who was molested by her father. I took her to the clinic and prayed and prayed for a negative test. That prayer was answered; she tested negative. A few days ago we got a call from the Children's office that there was a six month old baby boy. Normally Jeff or Carla will pick up the new kids. But Carla was on her way back to Kenya from the US and Jeff was on his way to pick her up at the airport. I went with Julia, our nurse who just arrived, and Hoglah, our social worker. We took this boy, Chris, right to the clinic and had him checked out by our doctor. He is badly malnourished; his skin was hanging from his bones and you could see each of his ribs clearly. Because his mother was HIV+ and had died last month we had him tested as well. It takes longer to get a Malaria test but this...this test seemed to last forever as we watched to see if a second line would appear showing a positive result. As I prayed for a negative result I had this overwhelming feeling of "I'm going to see a positive HIV test eventually". After a few minutes we saw a light half line. An inconclusive test. This was test number two I've seen.
Test number three was last night. We repeated the test with a kit at home. This kit says that results are valid in 5-20 minutes. 20 minutes seemed to drag on for an entire lifetime as we watched a second line begin to faintly appear. The next step is a new test to see if he has only the antibodies or the actual virus. It could be that the antibodies in his blood are still from his mother's immune system. Our hope is that because he was so badly malnourished, he may not have been breastfeeding which could mean that he will test negative for the virus. That's our hope and prayer for Chris.
I think that of all of the things I have seen in Kenya, this is still one that bothers me to an extreme. I do not believe that anyone at all deserves HIV. The fact that anyone has it is devastating. Yet it seems somehow different when it's such an innocent child that has not done anything. You cannot point to any decisions that the child has made that have led to it. And still, they suffer from it. To say that it's just plain wrong is a huge understatement but I cannot find the words to really describe it. Whatever you call it, it is heartbreaking at the very least.
Still, I stay here and chose to confront these feelings head on. Why? If I'm truly honest, I ask myself that same question. Why face it? What makes me desire to stay and see this and so many other heartbreaking issues daily? I don't know. I can't describe it. But I KNOW that it's right to stay. I've seen it and I cannot hide from it. I've heard too many people cry out "where is the goodness of God in that?". That's a valid question. The truth is that I don't know. Sorry, no profound, deeply spiritual answer. Just the truth. I don't know. But you know what? It isn't my job to see that goodness right now. My job is to simply have faith that it exists. I may never see some of these situations working for good in my time in Kenya or in my lifetime. But I have an unwavering faith that goodness will come from every single one of the situations. Whether from a child with HIV, extreme abuse, molestation, abandoned, death, etc.
Still, I could have that same faith and not have to see these things every day. So why chose it? Maybe it's because it's become my fight. But you don't have to come to Africa to see these things. They exist everywhere. I believe that we all have a fight. This is mine. Where is yours? What is yours?
The reality was that it wasn't a hard decision for me to make. Deep down in my bones, I just knew it was the right thing to do: to go for it. - Bear Grylls