Today we spent the day at the Health Alert offices, distributing beds to 160 children with HIV/AIDS. Distributions were finished early in the day, leaving us free time to play with dozens of children who had come hoping for a bed, but who were not on the recipient list. I can't remember a day that I have had more fun. We played kickball, volleyball, frisby, and duck duck goose with abandon for hour upon hour. I was exhausted, dizzy, had a headache, and was drenched in sweat. And I am a healthy, fit, well-fed adult.
I had forgotten that the kids with whom I was playing were all HIV positive. They laughed, chased, danced, and spiked volleyballs. They were strong and athletic. These children are also all clients of Health Alert. They are all receiving antiretroviral drugs. They all have a good chance to stay healthy for a long time because of their enrollment in the HIV/AIDS program at Health Alert.
Something we have come to learn, and have later seen first hand, is that once word gets out that Health Alert clients were receiving beds, bibles, and a mosquito net from Sweet Sleep, hundreds would come out from hiding with HIV. They would come to Health Alert for a bed and would thus be enrolled in the Health Alert program, and so would receive the life-saving ARV drugs. Not only that, but through HIV education and awareness, community prevention of the spread of the virus would would increase, preventable opportunistic diseases like malaria and pneumonia would be decreased, and those affected by HIV would be empowered and would be seen in a different way by their community.
Less than 24 hours after our first distribution, more than 65 new clients enrolled with Health Alert. A day after that, that number had risen to over 100. Those children will be receiving antiretroviral drugs and hopefully, soon they will receive the protection and comfort of a bed, blanket, bible, and mosquito net from Sweet Sleep.
Dozens of children have been turned away, crying, because they were not on the list this time. Without fail, the community leaders and members have pled with us to return. Their prayers would be with us and with our friends in America, that we would send more support soon. By the end of this week, 472 beds, bibles, and mosquito nets will have been distributed, out of the 2510 currently enrolled Health Alert clients in this small area in Gulu. That number is rising rapidly, which is a blessing, but the need is not soon to be satisfied.
Sweet Sleep is literally saving lives but we need immediate and continual support from you. Your prayers, financial gifts, and service of your time and talents are critical to providing each child living with HIV/AIDS with a bed, bible, and mosquito net. Prayerfully consider how you will be lead serve.