Let me tell you about a sweet, young woman named Seble. At 26 years old, she has already lost her husband and one of her children to HIV. When they passed away, she was sick with lung tuberculosis. The death of her husband and child came as quite a shock, everyone assumed that she would be the one to die. She was in the hospital for two months and while she was there, they also found out that she had breast cancer. The doctors had planned to give her a mastectomy, but when she went for the surgery the tumor was already reducing in size. It ended up miraculously disappearing altogether.
Even still, after Seble got out of the hospital, she didn’t have any hope in her life. She felt all alone and didn’t have any money, her husband had been the only one bringing home an income. So, she started to do small, daily labor type work. But this wasn’t enough to get by, especially with a young son to feed. During this time she found out she is HIV positive. She saw this as yet another problem in her life. She lost all hope and simply wanted to die.
Seble started telling me about the turning point in her life. She said that it was her brother who helped her so much. He is a follower of Jesus and helped to lead her to Christ. She said that, at first, she only came to Christ because she wanted to be buried next to her brother (in Ethiopia, you are buried in different cemeteries depending on your religion). But, after some time, she said that she really started to have faith in Jesus and it helped to give her the strength to press on. Her brother also supported her in many other ways. She said that he was the only one who was helping her through all of these difficult situations.
We have now hired her as a home-based caregiver. She visits the other women that we help, checks how they are doing, provides whatever help she can give them and lets us know if anyone is in trouble. Not only does this provide her with a paying job, but it also helps us to have more contact with all the women that we are helping. With a huge smile on her face, she explained how this job has brought so much joy to her life. She said she always liked to visit and help people, so to do it as a job is like a dream come true. In her own words, she said that she has gone from a help-seeker to a caregiver. You see on her face that her hope for life is growing stronger all the time.
She is also very proud of her son, Kidus. Whenever I asked questions about him she got a big smile on her face. When I asked her what dreams her son has for his life, she said that he wants to be a pilot. Smiling, she said that she wants to see this happen for him. When I asked about what dreams she has for herself, she said that she wants to live a good life and to please God. It was so nice to sit down and talk to Seble. She is so kind and welcoming. She has so much joy that it just radiates from her. And although she has gone through so much hardship herself, she has this strong desire to help others and that’s exactly what she’s doing.