Monday, 21 November 2016
Paula* was seven-years-old when her whole world was thrown into a spin.
Her father lost his struggle against the HIV and AIDS virus. Her mother, crushed by the death of her husband, ran away and abandoned Paula. Although not carrying the virus herself, Paula is no stranger to the devastating impact HIV and AIDS can have on a family living in poverty.
But she is not alone. Paula is one of over 890,000 HIV and AIDs orphans in Zimbabwe.
While in the past there was little hope when the test results came back positive, today there is HOPE like never before for HIV and AIDS. Medical progress has resulted in many people being able to manage the disease through treatment. The rate of new infections has also dramatically decreased in Zimbabwe.
However - there is still a big roadblock to HIV and AIDS orphans being able to hope for the future. Illiteracy.
When Paula went to live with her uncle, he didn't know how he could afford to feed her. He was a very poor man but had a kind heart. He decided that he would not send his children to school to accomodate Paula.
Paula remembers the happiest day of her life - the day she discovered that a woman in Australia was helping support a school scholarship for her! She would be able to go to school! Her uncle kneeled on the ground, clapping his hands as the cultural way of expressing gratitude. Paula had only one word on her lips - Ndinotenda (which means 'thank you' in the Shona language).
Paula is now in year seven. She is an exceptionally bright students who regularly tops her classes. Her consciousness has earned her the respect of teachers.
When asked what she hopes for in the future, Paula says that she wants to be a school teacher so that "she can teach all orphan children [for] free".
The road ahead for Paula won't be easy, but with a hope-shaped future she can push through the trials of today!
This Christmas, SIM invites you to partner with us by giving a HOPE-shaped gift to a child like Paula.
Your $35 tax deductible gift to SIM's Operation Neighbour Care (90209) can help break cycles of poverty by supporting a scholarship for a HIV and AIDS orphan in Zimbabwe! Or, your gift of $140 will provide four scholarship gift for children. Scholarships include school fees, stationery and a school uniform.
Click here to inspire HOPE this Christmas!
*Personal details have been changed in this story to protect identity
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