The AIDS Epidemic Hits Home – originally posted 8/13/08

I am sorry to say that my neighbor’s baby, Euclides, died yesterday morning. This little guy, who was about 7 months old, probably had AIDS. He was tiny from birth, constantly ill with cough or fever, and though he ate well just never seemed to grow. His mother is also quite thin and tends to be ill, so it is likely that she has it and passed it to him.

The funeral was this morning. I was told I needed to drive the family with the baby’s body in my car, but at the last minute a change was made, so I hopped in the back of the open truck with the other mourners and we drove the 3 miles to the broken-down little cemetery in the middle of the slums. As the little body, wrapped in a cloth, was placed in the grave and the dirt poured on top, I couldn’t help but think of how we watched the dirt poured on top of Tabitha’s casket, 4 years ago. It is something you never want to experience, and my heart breaks for my neighbor, who was crying so hard she could hardly stand up.

My prayer is that, in the weeks to come, I would be able to be a support to her and encourage her. That she would go to church instead of fleeing from it. She visited a local church a couple of months ago and they prayed for her and her baby. Her health improved, but the baby did not. I pray that she is able to turn to them for comfort and that God will meet her.

The HIV infection rate here is, it is estimated, somewhere between 20 and 35%. Can you imagine if one fifth of Americans were infected with HIV? Can you imagine the response of the public? Here, it is not talked about very much. People don’t get tested, many believe that it is caused by a curse from an unhappy neighbor or relative, and there is so much sexual promiscuity that it is running rampant. Medicines are sporadically available, which is almost worse than not having them available at all. We do hear “success stories” of people living with HIV who are healthy and responsible, but these are rare. We hope that, as the years go by, the success stories will become more and the sad stories less. It is too late for little Euclides, and I will miss seeing his bright little brown eyes looking at me from his mother’s arms. Those arms are empty now.

Cami

Update on the babies – originally posted 8/3/08

I have mentioned to some of you that there are two babies we are concerned about. The first is the son of our across-the-street-neighbor, Palmyra. She had come to visit me soon after her son was born, and he was very tiny but I didn’t think much of it. As the months have gone by, however, he has remained tiny and constantly been ill. I began to be suspicious that both of them have AIDS, since the mother is also conspicuously thin and tends to be sick. I had asked for prayer that the baby have a blood test to determine his status, so that he can begin ARVs if they are available (sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t). However, I was not able to say “I think he has AIDS, you should have him tested” without seriously jeopardizing my relationship with the neighbor. It would be almost as if I had cursed him. So, I hinted to the next-door neighbors that perhaps he could use some tests to discover why he is continuing to be ill, and they seemed to agree with me. Meanwhile, this week he has gone into the Catholic hospital outside of town and is very, very sick. I have doubts that he will survive, and hope to visit there this week to find out his condition. Please continue to pray for Euclides.

The second baby I’ve asked prayer for is Clemilde, 6 month old daughter of my language helper. A few months ago, it was noticed that her muscle tone is very poor and the shape of her head rather large. After tests for hypothyroidism were negative, a local pediatrician determined that she is, in fact, a “little person” (a dwarf). I was astounded. Apparently this does happen here as the mother didn’t seem too surprised, and there is a history of some extremely short people in the family. I was pleased that the mother had a positive attitude and it seems that Clemilde is likely to live a normal life here in her community. She will need surgery on her legs, however, to correct some deformities. Please pray that this can be arranged in a way that provides her with the best care possible. I have already been for 4 visits to the hospital and clinic with mother and baby and suspect that many more will be needed.

Cami

First post – originally posted 7/27/08

This was the first post over at our camikevinupdate.blogspot.com site, after we made the switch from msn groups site.  Kevin has another blog, camikevin.blogspot.com, which will continue to operate.  I usually do these posts. – Cami

Dear Friends and Family:  for some time now I have been using the MSN Groups format to post updates about us, but the situation over there has been deteriorating and at this point I can’t even put in paragraph separations.  So, I have decided to move to a blog format, which will also allow you to go back and see previous posts.

We are linking this blog with our new webpage (which will be put up gradually) as well as with some photo albums I am going to post at Flickr.  Since our site is hosted by someone in America, this will allow me to easily edit photos and our update without going through that person.  I am hoping that this format works well and is easy for all involved.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

This blog is “owned” by Kevin, but I am usually the one to update here on this page.  We decided it would be easier to keep his blog and this one linked, so his profile comes up instead of a family profile.  Love, Cami