Stand By Me

A mother and daughter live here with HIV

Ethiopia Tuesday, 26 August 2014
A mother and daughter live here with HIV

Alli works in the Stand by Me Northern Ireland office, she was part of a recent team trip to Dembi Dollo, below she gives an account of a particularly impacting memory from her trip:

“On the first day we set out to visit homes, not ten steps from the school grounds our host stopped outside the first home and said "A mother and daughter live here with HIV – Stand by Me rents the home for them”. I repeated the information to the team to make sure they were really ‘getting this’. I tried to stay calm, after all, this isn’t new information to me, I know that the care Stand by Me provides for a child often extends to the family, especially those most vulnerable, but seeing it in action caught me entirely off guard and I began to well up.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the educational aspect of the care program. We spent the majority of our days at the school, we issued something akin to a roll call when we were giving the kids their colour coded t-shirts for summer club and we sang songs with 240 smiling faces at assembly each morning. Education. Is. Crucial. And school is where our kids will spend their most formative years.

Education deserves careful attention and investment to ensure we are giving our kids the best. The teachers at Abdi Academy have all spent the last month at summer school receiving extra training. Some of our kids used to live too far from any school to be able to attend, now with the help of Stand by Me they live a stone’s throw away.

Education is crucial, but I just can’t quite get it out of my head “A mother and her daughter live here with HIV – Stand by Me rents the house for them.” This is holistic care, tailored care and quality care.

By the time we had visited a few more homes I was not the only one choking back the tears. It’s hard to take in: Mud huts, 8 to a ‘bed’, no running water, no toilet, one light bulb if you’re lucky. The culture shock is overwhelming and yet your mind doesn’t really know what to do with it all. Should I feel ashamed at my western over consumption? It isn’t possible to feel apathetic but it isn’t appropriate to feel pity, who am I to call one existence meagre when mine is grotesquely bourgeois in contrast! All these thoughts are rolling round in my head but in the midst of it all there is one thought I can grasp hold of: Whilst it may be possible for some to live a simple and happy life here, there is no safeguard for them when things go wrong.

And so I’ll say it once more for dramatic effect “A mother and her daughter live here with HIV – Stand by Me rents the house for them."”

Read more about our HIV Food Programme in Ethiopia.

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