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By Maryknoll Lay Missioner Joanne Miya
It was the day before we would close for the Christmas Holiday. Deo, a husband and father, who is HIV positive and the leader of his village’s support group, came to our office with a child to be registered. With him was Janet. It was hard to believe that she was already ten years old. Stunted growth is common here to children infected at birth with HIV. After the death of both of Janet’s parents she was bounced from relative to relative. This resulted in her not getting the medical care she needed, with a consequence of frequent secondary infections. This led her to have such poor school attendance that she eventually had to drop out of second grade.
Deo and Janet
Janet’s relatives met and decided that Deo was her only hope. Even though he has three children of his own, Deo agreed to welcome Janet into his home. The next thing he did was to bring her to the Uzima Centre to be registered for our “Upendo” program for HIV positive children. Here in Tanzania, the new school year starts in January and Deo was working on getting her registered within a school in his neighborhood. Children are “given away” in many different ways, and for many different reasons. This Christmas, Janet has reason to celebrate; finally she has been given to a family that understands what she needs in order to have a happy and healthy future. Uzima Centre is happy to welcome this unexpected Christmas gift, for nothing is more precious than a child.

Erik Cambier
Erik Cambier served as Maryknoll lay missioner for 25 years, in Tanzania, the United States, Venezuela and El Salvador.