A couple of weeks ago Kristi and her mom, Marcia, went to one of the villages near our town to visit one of the families we sponsor. The family is a grandmother raising several of her grandkids. She had lost her daughter to AIDS and son in law to a gun battle. As a family they have a little land on which they plant sorghum that is usually enough to last them a couple months out of the year. The rest of the year they don’t know where there food will come from. Two of the grandsons are in primary school through our sponsorship program and the other is a shepherd who looks after a little livestock they own. He walks far every day with the livestock to find pastures to graze on. The granddaughter is a beautiful 7 yr. old girl named Akelo Ricot. Akelo caught HIV from her mom before mom died. Kristi fell in love with her instantly and was saddened to hear that Akelo cannot get treatment for HIV because there are no testing machines in our area. She came home to me that night after her village trip and said, “Kenneth, we have to help this little girl. If we don’t, she’ll probably die.”
We decided to make the drive to Lira, a town a couple districts over from ours. Lira is the closest place we know of to get the testing done. With Akelo not speaking any English, Rainbow Mike agreed to go with us and help translate. A few days later we set off for Lira at 6am Friday morning. We arrived in Lira by 1pm and immediately Akelo was being led around by doctors and nurses to get poked, pricked, and prodded for testing. She is an amazing little girl and not once in all of this did she cry. She held tightly to my hand as we went from one room to another. In the meantime I was so moved by this little girl that I wanted to give her everything in life and relieve her of any suffering she might experience. She didn’t have any shoes, so Rainbow bought her some shoes. We ate tangerines, drank soda, and ate candy together. She had never had any of this. We went to a small, cheap restaurant together and she got chicken and rice. She at as much as she could and stuffed the last bit of rice in a plastic bag she had. At the end of the day, we got all her tests done, and the next morning we left for the return drive home.
It was great to be able to share what we had with Akelo but I know that what she needs more than anything material we can give her is people who will love her, be with her, pray for her, and encourage her. It is often the custom in the villages when someone gets HIV to shun them. To not eat together, sleep together, and interact. They are often ostracized. Akelo’s grandmother seems like a lady who loves her very much and wants to take care of her. When we finally got back, it was time to part ways; at least for a little while. We sent Akelo and the grandmother off with her meds (to be taken daily) and a few supplies. Please join with us and keep Akelo in your prayers. I know that there are thousands if not millions of little Akelos across Africa with HIV. She is the one God has given us to bless us, to soften our hearts, and to teach us to love deeply. Join with us in lifting up Akelo to our father who is the great physician and has power over all things. We wanted to share this story with our friends because we want you to love Akelo and pray for Akelo as you have done for us. We know you will and thank you for that.