Eyes Full of Hope

Is the life of one fragile child worth fighting for? Not everyone would answer this question the same way…

“You are struggling for nothing. Gabriel is going to die soon.”

When Gabriel was first enrolled in the Lahash Sponsorship Program, the local program staff in Tanzania fought for his health against formidable odds. He was HIV-positive, sick, and malnourished. The comment about his inevitable death came from his grandmother, who had taken responsibility for the little boy when his mother died. She had lost hope for his survival. When extreme poverty leaves families chronically hungry, it is not uncommon for children with HIV to be neglected and deemed hopeless. Their fragile health condemns them as a waste of precious resources.

Lahash’s partners at Grace & Healing Ministry refused to see Gabriel that way. They worked carefully with the hospital on a medicine regimen his system could tolerate, and provided a nutrient-rich porridge so he could regain some strength. He was given a bed and mattress and no longer slept on the floor. Then, when Rice & Beans Month funds started coming in, the staff started a nutrition program specifically for kids with HIV. “When he joined the Nutrition Program,” said Director Esther Muhagachi, “Gabu’s face started to shine. He was happy, strong, and very cheerful when eating with the other kids.”

Gabriel still has struggles at home. His grandmother sometimes leaves him for long periods as she tries to find work to support the family. Even so, this boy who stared death in the face now has eyes full of life and hope. He is tall and strong, with quite a sense of humor. He is succeeding in school, even leading the school band. He dreams of having a bicycle someday. He is still vulnerable due to poverty and HIV, but he is never far from the loving, watchful eyes of the Grace & Healing Ministry staff. “We are taking care of Gabriel by giving him meals and everything that he needs. We love him and will always care for his health.”

To find out more about Rice and Beans Month, visit eatriceandbeans.com.