Tag Archives: HIV

my friend marta

One of the great things about returning to Dera, Ethiopia for the 3rd time in one year is the friendships. We’re all beginning to be familiar with one another.

I love it, love it, love it.

Last March I met a woman that has forever changed my life.

This picture was taken at our first meeting… the day after her toddler son had died.

Her blind husband was off to bury the child. She couldn’t go, she is too sick… she is HIV positive. You can see my grief in this picture (I try so hard to conceal my emotions but I had lost control)… but not nearly as great as hers.

This is her 7 year old son, Abi. He has tuberculosis.

But a smile to capture any heart.

We were able to provide her and her family with food and some money each month. (about $20)

Needless to say, she was one of the first people I wanted to see when we arrived a few weeks ago. I was so anxious to see her, not knowing what to expect or how I would find her.

Imagine my JOY when my dear friend wrapped her tiny arms around me- healthy, happy, and FULL of LIFE. What’s more, imagine hearing her words (though foreign and through a translator) telling me that we had saved her life.

She said that the day we met her she had laid down to die, having told God that if she was to live she needed an angel.

We arrived about an hour later.

She knows that her life was spared.

She and her husband passionately presented a business plan to me, soliciting a small loan in the amount of $350 to start a hay business. They believe this is the beginning of better days for them.

Would you like to help support Marta?

You can make a donation of any amount to Hope Arising. When I exceed this goal, we’ll apply your donation to another friend of mine.

I have many.

Here’s a picture of Abi now: (Please note the shape of his head and the light in his eyes. It’s amazing what food and medicine can do! And note that I am clearly the happiest in Ethiopia.)

Jennifer Brinkerhoff
July 2010 

dera women battle hiv

Each one of these women of Dera, Ethiopia has a poignant situation. Each has tragedy and daily struggles to survive. But their will to not only survive, but to thrive is an example of how far the human spirit will soar to overcome even the most desperate of situations.

Tigist was married and has two sons; 8 and 7 years old. Her husband passed away three years ago from AIDS. She and her youngest son have been diagnosed as HIV positive. Mother and sons are currently healthy, but due to the negative stigma of employing someone with AIDS, Tigist’s workload as a housecleaner has been completely diminished. She has applied for a micro-loan to sell coffee and beans at the marketplace but is waiting to hear if her application is acceptable. She and her 7 year old currently take medication and all three remain healthy. Tigist needs the resources to start and run her own business. This opportunity will allow her to be self-reliant and provide for her sons.

Photo # 4436

Ayu was diagnosed as HIV positive, along with her husband. After receiving this news, their marriage ended in divorce. Ayu has three children aged 14, 12, and 8, all of whom remain free of the AIDS virus. She faithfully takes her anti-retro viral medication every morning at 8 AM, even if there is no food available. Good nutrition is essential to those who suffer from AIDS, but is a luxury not available to most in Dera. Ayu sells sugar cane in the marketplace as a means to survive. She currently has the equivalent of $3 in capital. If she could secure a micro-loan of $40, she has a plan to add onions, garlic and potatoes to her list of available goods to sell. Ayu has a viable plan and the work ethic necessary to make her business successful. She lacks only the resources to make it happen.

Photo # 4438

Imabet has two children; a son 17 and a daughter 14. She was divorced seven years ago from her husband after being infected with HIV. Imabet is remarried to another man who also has AIDS. They decided not to have any children together since they’re both carriers of the AIDS virus. Imabet and her husband take daily medication for their condition. Her family receives a small pension equal to $8 a month, from her former husband’s employer. This pension is not enough to sustain Imabet’s family. Until six months ago, she was supplementing the pension by selling vegetables at the marketplace but the heat greatly exacerbates her health problems. Her body cannot tolerate sitting in the heat of the sun all day at the market. Imabet is part of a group called “Almaz”, who have applied for a micro-loan to purchase supplies to weave traditional Ethiopian clothing to sell. If granted this loan, Imabet can work in her home and her business partners will sell at the marketplace.

Photo # 4439

Ayesha is a 27 year old single mom with AIDS. She is the sole guardian of her seven year old son and her three year old niece. Both children are HIV free. Ayesha brought her niece to live with her after the toddler’s mother died of AIDS and her father is in prison. It is not uncommon for relatives and even neighbors to take in orphaned children. Ayesha works three jobs to support her little family. She works at the Dera Bus Station organizing passengers, a housekeeper and is the leader of a group of women who do sheep fattening. These women have pooled their resources to secure a micro-loan for sheep and the necessities for fattening. She is a hard worker determined to stay healthy and strong enough to take care of her family.

Photo #4437