Have you given much thought to the victims of HIV/AIDS lately? Not the ones who have succumbed because of it, but the ones who are left behind when their parents fall victim to this dreaded killer.
Lawrence Okello of Tikoling, Uganda, has thought about those victims a lot. One of his daughters died of HIV/AIDS, leaving behind two granddaughters, Fiona and Boniface, for him and his wife to take care of. With the courage and care that loving grandparents exhibit around the world, the Okellos took the girls in and made them part of their own household.
Life was already hard for Lawrence and his wife, Alice, and then they “inherited” the two girls, at which point it got nearly impossible! Then, Food for the Hungry (FH) entered into the picture. Registering the two girls in the local sponsorship program, FH provided the girls with scholarships, enabling them to go to school to receive an education. The story doesn’t end there.
Providing families devastated by HIV/AIDS with income producing solutions like goats, pigs and savings and loan groups, is a lifeline in place like Uganda, Africa.
FH also introduced the Oello’s to a local Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), where Mr. Okello registered and became an active participant. Before long he had saved enough money to improve the family’s plight by purchasing a goat and several piglets. Providing both consumable and cash-raising resources, these goat and pig investments have improved not only the Okello’s financial status but their outlook on life as well.
That is but one of the success stories that FH is realizing in the Tikoling region. Through the use of a newly constructed road, Tikoling is now accessible to the outside world. Also, a FH team in the area was able to construct a staff house that is now occupied by four families working in the region.
Unfortunately, the Okello story is neither unique nor rare in FH’s case files. Throughout the continent of Africa the middle generation is being devastated by HIV/AIDS, leaving an untold number of grandparents responsible for the children whose parents have passed away.
As a result, FH and other humanitarian groups find themselves helping those grandparents in any way that they can. As in the case of the Okellos and their purchase of the goat and piglets, FH knows that the best way to help these individuals is to create scenarios where they can actually help themselves!
Success for FH, as you can see, is dependent on helping people – helping them with places to live; helping them with being able to make contact with the outside world; helping them accept the challenge of having a young family thrust upon them.