2004 was the first year I ever met a child with AIDS.
Her name was Debra, and she was living at a hospice with her terminally ill mother. A solitary, wide-eyed little girl, she remained at the hospice after her mother's death, and soon was joined by other infected children as the hospice was transformed into an orphanage for HIV+ orphans. Pamoja Project partnered with the orphanage for some years, but peacefully parted ways in 2010.
This afternoon, Olais told me that a 16 year old we had been supporting in secondary school was at the office to speak with me. She had been referred to us several years ago because she was ill with recurrent ear infections, needed surgery, and the aunt with whom she lived had been told we helped kids with HIV/AIDS. Her name was Debra.
Yes, it was the same Debra. I wasn't in Tanzania
when she first was referred to us so I never put 2 and 2 together. Today she walked in and, with a huge grin said, "Mama Caro, it's ME!!"
The best part of this job is seeing kids facing unbelievable odds beat health challenges, continue education, and envision their future.
Pamoja Project came full circle today- thanks to Debra.