I went out to eat with my younger brother, Matt, a few weeks ago. Somehow our conversation shifted to discussing how overwhelming the worlds problem’s can seem at times, which reminded him of a story he shared with me.
“A young boy was on a beach observing the hatching of sea turtles and their hazardous trek across the exposed beach to the safety of the ocean waters. He was horrified as he observed scores of baby turtles being intercepted by ravenous seagulls and crabs. He started picking up the turtles as they emerged from their sandy nests carrying them to safety in the water. He was at this for quite a while when an old man walking along the beach observed his actions and asked, “What are you doing? There are thousands of turtles all along this beach, and there is no way you can save them all.” Without missing a beat, the boy looked up at the adult and explained, “I know… I can’t save them all, but I can save these ones.”
I love this story. While everyone else was paralyzed by the scope and apparent hopelessness of the problem, the little boy recognized that he was in a position to do something to help the turtles that were closest to him and took action.
One of those overwhelming issues that can leave us feeling like the old man in the story is the scale of suffering caused by HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the best and brightest dedicating their lives to finding a cure and helping those that are currently sick, the plight of those suffering today is staggering.
The compassion of the little boy in the story immediately came to mind when Martin Mbavu, the director of HIV Hope, asked us to help him care for a group of HIV positive kids and mothers that were falling through the cracks of the Gabonese healthcare system. While Martin was conducting research for UNICEF and the Government of Gabon, he interviewed the head midwife at a large health facility in Libreville and learned that she is in contact with several young, poor mothers and children that are HIV positive. Most of them are not receiving treatment nor the proper nutrition needed to stay healthy. She is sympathetic to their situation, but is not in a position to help them and was curious if HIV Hope could get involved.
In Gabon, the anti-retroviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS are free, but require regular blood tests that can be very expensive, putting treatment out of reach. Even with these drugs, staying healthy is not always possible with the low-nutrient diets of rice, plantains and cassava many of the people are surviving on. These issues combined with the overwhelming stigma they face leads to despair and a sense of hopelessness. The social safety net that is supposed to care for them has failed for a variety of reasons. Without help, these children with HIV face very short lifespans and the HIV positive mothers will develop AIDS and pass away, leaving stigmatized orphans behind.
Martin knows he can help; he has counseled several people through the treatment process, helped pay for their lab exams and supplemented their diets with high-nutrient food. With his approach of sharing the hope of Jesus while providing for physical needs, he has seen very positive results. He has observed their health dramatically improve and even their hope being restored. Martin wants to start by interviewing and identifying 25 HIV positive kids and mothers to provide their lab tests, supplemental food and counseling for 6 months. He will need about $120 per person, making his total program budget $3,000. Martin has tried fundraising locally for programs like this in the past, but finds it difficult bacuase most Gabonese are still apathetic to his cause due to the extreme stigma associated with the disease.
Here at E4 Project, we know we can’t help everyone in Gabon that has HIV, but through Martin and the generosity of our donors (like you)…we know there are at least 25 that we can demonstrate the love of Jesus to right now. We need your help to make this a reality. Please click here to join us financially in support of this cause.
We may not be able to help everyone with HIV/AIDs in Africa, but just like the boy rescuing sea turtles in the story, we can help those in need, one at a time.