We always knew this day would come. But somehow that doesn’t make it any easier. We know that we can’t change entire systems with our program. We know we can’t fix the life expectancy of an entire nation that hovers just around 50 years. But we do know that we can enter into these hardships, these difficult realities, and make a difference despite the rest of it. It’s that realization to which we cling with the current reality we’re facing.
Over the weekend when many of us enjoyed just another ordinary couple of days, one of the ladies in our program faced an intensely difficult day. One of the very first ladies to join our program in 2012 and one of our greatest graduate leaders now, Jessy, lost her son to a battle with HIV/AIDS on Saturday. His name was Austine and he was only 25 years old.
In a country where I see posters of HIV prevention, hear it mentioned in passing at many different places, I don’t think the magnitude of the epidemic really hit me until I dug deeper. More than one in every seven adults is living with HIV, totaling over 1.1 million people infected in the country (avert.org). These statistics are staggering, with effects far beyond numbers.
But even more staggering is the effect on Jessy. A mom who had to bury her son today. A son who died entirely too soon at the very age I am right now. A void in the family that cannot be filled. An injustice in the world played out on a very personal level. Our hearts break and feel for Jessy. I’m not a parent, so I can’t even imagine the emotions she is going through this season. But I am so beyond thankful that there are 53 mamas who can sympathize, even empathize with her.
Because of the community of strangers turned friends at the Chikondi Community Center, Jessy is not alone. Today she stands held up by her Clothed in Hope family. We cry with her. We mourn with her. We endure with her. We anger with her over the injustices of this world that take her son entirely too soon. We break with her. We take care of her, feed her family, sit in silence with her, be with her. Because that’s what family does. And each one of us, staff and graduates and “students” alike, would agree with that. We were created for community and we have been blessed by an incredible one.
So to the rest of our CiH family, you all, please join us with your thoughts and prayers for Jessy, her husband, her children, and the rest of her family as they walk through this difficult, unfathomable season. Thank you for being our family, our community, our support.
With Heartbreak & Chikondi, Amy