On World Aids Day we remember the 36.7 million people in our world living with HIV. Each one of these precious people have their own story and Tearfund is working with local churches, enabling them to support and encourage those affected.
It was early morning and Delphine* saw no hope and no future as she made her way out of the village. Leaving the path and entering the trees she prepared to hang herself. But a sharp cry stopped her – beginning a journey of remarkable redemption.
In 2013 Delphine’s husband died of AIDS, leaving her widowed at the age of 27 with two young children. ‘Five months later I went to the voluntary screening centre and discovered that I was also sick,’ says Delphine. ‘When people knew, they started to reject me – starting with my own parents and in-laws. No one wanted to greet me.’
The parents of her deceased husband forced her and the two children to leave. The family were welcomed by an elderly lady who had a small room they could use. But without any means of supporting herself and her children, Delphine was desperate. She could not see a way forward, only a way out.
The cry that stopped her in her tracks that fateful morning belonged to a Christian woman who took Delphine to her pastor. After praying for her and encouraging her, the pastor introduced her to a local project team from Tearfund partner EEMET (The Alliance of Churches and Evangelical Missions in Chad).
‘The supervisor gave me lot of attention and took time to explain everything about AIDS, and said that I can live several years with the disease,’ says Delphine. She began to receive treatment and counselling and her condition is regularly monitored.
As Delphine gained confidence and hope she became a member of the local association of people living with HIV and AIDS. ‘I found myself in a new and a true family where human values are precious and lived out. The association has been a place for mutual support and exchange where each member has rights and duties without discrimination and without stigmatisation.’
A whole life restored
Delphine’s spiritual health was also being taken care of by the pastor she had met. ‘He encouraged us to maintain faith in God and have hope for the future,’ she says. ‘He led us through Bible studies that have been the biggest source of my comfort and motivation.’
In addition, Delphine was trained to set up and manage a business. Taking a loan from the project, she began selling peanuts and fruits in the local market. She was soon able to repay the loan and continue trading, earning enough to meet all of her family’s needs. And she is a powerful voice in the community where the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS has been challenged and overcome.
Delphine’s transformation also led to a reconciliation with her parents, and to her children and herself being reintegrated into the family of her in-laws.
‘I praise God that he has put on my path the woman who saved my life,’ says Delphine. ‘I also thank the project and the church, which has played a vital role in shaping my life, turning my despair into hope, self-confidence and restoration.’
* Name changed to protect identity
- Praise God that he is faithful to rescue and give hope and a future to many like Delphine, and for his church reaching out to bring comfort.
- Pray for Tearfund’s HIV programme in Chad, where 3.3 per cent of the population is affected by HIV, and for the churches that are offering counselling and support to those living with AIDS.
- Pray that the stigma associated with HIV would continue to be reduced and that many more people can be helped to live full lives in spite of the disease.