Swaziland had been flooded with disease and death as a result of HIV/AIDS. When I had lived there in the 1980's, no one talked about HIV/AIDS. Well, almost no one. I remember one missionary doctor telling my brother that the HIV/AIDS rate among the general population was the same as the rate of infection among the prostitutes. I stored that fact away in my brain somewhere but it didn't seem real as I didn't personally know of anyone affected. And at that time, the rate was still relatively low. But fast forward nearly 20 years and Swaziland had become the nation with the highest HIV/AIDS rate and the lowest life expectancy in the world...and as a result, a rapidly growing orphan population as parents began, as described by a Swazi pastor, "dropping like flies".
Estimates of the infection rate range from 1/4 to nearly 1/2 of the population. 1/3 seems like a safe bet. One out of three!
That hit me hard. I realized that the preschool children I had sang silly songs with and the youth girls that I had hosted sleepovers for at my house were among these
infected. And because so few are being adequately treated, most of them are
dying horrific deaths. My babies. My students. My fellow church members. My
neighbors. Dying, dying, dying.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
World AIDS Day
My friend Elysa at Musings from Graceland has written a thoughtful and moving discussion on World Aids Day, and how the Lord changed her heart about AIDS victims through here missionary connections in Swaziland, Africa She served as a missionary there in the 80's, her daughter went there on a mission trip last summer, and the family has maintained connections there.
I recommend her article for your consideration and prayer.