Thursday, October 23, 2014

Almost Killed because of HIV

(Trigger/Content warning: This post contains references to abuse that readers may find to be triggering.)

My daughter is only 12 years old, and she doesn't have the greatest memory.  But still she remembers the day she almost got burned, years ago in Africa.

They took her in after her father died of an AIDS-related illness.  Her mother had died of the same a few years prior. They had promised her father they'd look after her.

But after several months, they were growing weary of the needs of yet another child. Especially a young child with an AIDS diagnosis. On top of caring for her, clothing her, and feeding her, they had to find a way to pay for the medication that she needed to live. They already had their own children and their own financial responsibilities. Though they'd given their word, they were beginning to feel burdened and resentful of the child.

The father was a devout Muslim and determined to keep his promise to his deceased friend. His wife, however, came from a family of herbalist that worshiped their ancestors as well as other African deities. She converted to Islam upon marrying her husband, but she still held fast to the beliefs that she grew up with. She was convinced that my daughter was "cursed" because of her HIV/AIDS status, and that she would bring destruction and bad luck upon the family. She begged her husband to get rid of my daughter and place her in an orphanage, but he did not. He wanted her to stay and asked his wife to try to give her a chance.

One day everything exploded.  My daughter and the other children were playing. They weren't supposed to play in or near the road, but they always did anyway, dodging quickly out of the way when a car approached and then returning when the car was gone.  Sadly, that day one of the sons of the family she lived with didn't move quickly enough, and he was hit.

Neighbors ran quickly to alert the parents. Fortunately, the little boy was not dead, but he was seriously injured. Praying fervently, the father left quickly with his son en route to the hospital to seek medical attention.  His wife remained at home with the other children, awaiting news.

Looking over at my daughter, she became enraged. She was certain that if my daughter hadn't been there, this wouldn't have happened.  Just as she had suspected, the AIDS child was cursed. And now because she was living with their family, they were now suffering for it.

She knew how to fix the problem.

She lit a fire.  When it was large enough, she began uttering the words needed for cleansing your home of an evil spirit.  She walked over to where the other children were seated quietly; they were not playing, as they were worried sick about Mohammed and were hoping he would be okay. They were just sitting there.

Grabbing my daughter, she lifted her high in the air.  Still uttering the proper words, she approached the open flames.  She was going to remove this evil spirit from this AIDS child once and for all.  This would save the child, and would save her family...

She was stopped.  Her older children, frightened, intercepted. One stood in front of the fire to block it. Another grabbed his mother's arms to prevent her from moving freely.  They told the younger children to run to get an adult neighbor for help.

My daughter was saved that day by the swift actions and bravery of those children.

She was moved, for her own safety, temporarily to an orphanage run by the Red Cross, and placed for international adoption.  The father and children visited her in the brief time that she was there.  Even little Mohammed, who had broken both legs when the car struck him, but fortunately survived.

She moved to the United States less than one year later.

Misconceptions surrounding HIV led to a violent act that could have killed her.  Thank God she is alive.  I'm blessed to be her mother, and so grateful that she has been able to live a happy, healthy life as a young lady with HIV.  I am hoping that she will grow up to be a strong, confident woman with HIV - until there's a cure.

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