“Come and Sit with Me”
–from the early pages of Dr. Nathaniel’s journal–about the beginning of ARV treatment in 2002
When you get this idea to move to Africa so you can help orphans living with AIDS, you draw curtains across most of your heart’s windows. Their views are too frightening. The unknowns, the incomprehensible realities, the hopeless questions. The whys.
But you don’t sit in a darkened room, either. Your heart remains bright with the light from one big picture window of active compassion. Its curtains wide open. Its sunlight rays of hope.
But as these nameless orphans become your children. Your babies. Nameless no more. Orphans no more.
And as you hear them say, “Daddy, Daddy, I love you soooooo MUCH.”
As you realize that they are talking to you.
Then, like it or not, your heart begins to peek behind all those closed drapes. While you are gratified by your remarkable success; while it thrills you to see children suffering less—living longer—there is nothing you can do to stop this dreadful desperation that comes and sits in the chair next to you.
You look out these windows together.
“My God,” a staff member says to you one very dark night. You are holding the body of one of your little girls. The third of your children to die in the last thirteen days.
“My God,” she whispers, “They’re all dying.”
Again desperation taps you on the shoulder, reminding you that he has crept through a window you have been powerless to seal shut.
Yes, you know that you can drastically slow the progress of this virus with your TLC and wise treatment. But progress it will.
Die they will.
Except for the wisdom of the Miraculous.
While Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) exists just outside one of the windows, it is impossibly out of reach. For your kids.
For my kids.
Until—that is—until an even better hope comes in.
And takes desperation’s seat.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation recently announced the establishment of the Aidchild Treatment Trust Fund to guarantee ART for my kids! For the rest of their now-to-be-long lives!
I will never be able to explain this feeling.
“Hope just got better,” I keep saying. “Better hope. More hope. Real hope.”
When I was told this wonderful news, the first thing I did was to call my mom in America. “Our kids don’t have to die,” I told her. “They can live now.
“They can live.”
We cried as our hearts sat together and enjoyed this incredible new view.
“Hope just got better,” we said to each other. “So much better.”
Still, though, there is this terribly dark understanding that there are so many others who do not have access to the treatment they so desperately need. (We are the only orphan program providing free ART to children in Uganda, and one of only a handful in the world.)
We must change that. We must! Thank you, AHF, for your incredible efforts to do exactly that.
My sincerest thanks to everyone at AHF. Surely I will never find words to express something so much larger than “thank you”. How do I articulate this amazing gratitude I feel for saving the lives of once dying orphans who call me Daddy? And who no longer have to die.
Should anyone doubt, should any get discouraged, I quietly invite you to come and sit with me. In a chair that once belonged to desperation. But that now hosts an incredible hope.
Come and sit with me. The view is out of this world.