Today is World AIDS Day. For many of us, AIDS can seem like a faraway thing. A huge issue, but not one that affects our day to day lives. But for the kids that live in many of our Kinship Projects, particularly the ones in Africa, HIV/AIDS is an incredibly big deal. It’s something that has the potential to derail their entire futures, and taint the rest of their lives.
Some of the children in our Kinship Projects were born to parents who had HIV/AIDS, and because of this were born with it. Others became infected later in life, due to sexual abuse, or a need to trade sex for places to live and someone to take care of them. This is especially true of young women. The story of Barbara is one such story. And tragically, it’s not an uncommon one.
When Barbara was young, her father remarried a cruel woman. This woman hated Barbara, and often kept her home from school so that Barbara would do her chores. One day, she demanded that Barbara drop out of school because she no longer wanted to pay her Barbara’s school fees. This was when Barbara realized how much her stepmother hated her. She had once thought that her stepmother had her best interests in mind, but this was the last straw. Barbara knew that her future depended on her finishing school. And her stepmother had just cruelly yanked that away from her.
But the worst was yet to come. Barbara’s stepmother continued to treat her worse and worse, and Barbara grew to hate her stepmother more and more. And finally, the tension exploded one night when Barbara’s father was gone. Barbara’s stepmother began to beat her until Barbara finally fled the house.
She ran away from home, bruised and terrified. She had nowhere to go. Well, there was one option. But it wasn’t good. For months, a man had tried to convince Barbara to sleep with him. And she knew that if she did, she would have a place to stay. So finally, she did. But once she did, she was plagued by the worry that he had infected her with HIV.
Her relationship with this man was short lived; he started coming home drunk, and beat Barbara at night. Again, Barbara found herself in a difficult place. She once again didn’t know where to go. But her life changed when she heard the Gospel message for the first time at a local church. She packed up her bags, left the man she lived with, and went to the pastor to ask for help. The pastor soon found her a family to stay with, and now God and her church community are helping her restore her life.
HIV/AIDS can seem like a huge, unbeatable issue. But like most issues, it’s made up of stories, each one belonging to a real person, with real struggles. There are so many young women who are forced to make choices that jeopardize their health, safety, and morality. Kinship Projects provide young girls without homes a safe space to live.
Here’s some ways that we help young girls:
- Our Women of Worth Baking program is open to women of all ages, allowing them to learn skills that let them support themselves.
- Educational opportunities
- Counseling so they can heal from their past wounds and painful choices
- God’s unconditional love (such a contrast from the give-and-take they’ve lived with)
No young woman should have to endanger her physical safety or her morals to care for herself. On this World AIDS Day, you can partner with Kinship United to make sure that one more young woman never has to. Through your help, Kinship United seeks to stand in that gap, and give these young women what they need.