When children lose their parents to AIDS or other causes, they also often lose their housing, educational opportunity and food access. AIDS has claimed the lives of so many parents that some children spend days or even years fending for themselves. We don’t always know the details of their lives during these tragically unsupervised periods. But our church partners are leading by example, often opening their own homes to foster security and stability in the lives of these children.
For many years, Ndeke ECZ was blessed by a woman named Mavis serving as a deaconess. When Mavis saw that her neice and nephew, Alice and Chilishe, had lost their parents to AIDS, she brought them into her own home. Through the church’s partnership with Forgotten Voices, she provided them with food and school supplies. Equally important, she gave them a sense of family.
Alice, now 17, was born HIV positive. People call her the “miracle child”. As a teenager, she became so gravely ill that Mavis was convinced Alice had died and even arranged a car to come for the body. However, Pastor Vincent of Ndeke ECZ also came and prayed, and Alice’s health was miraculously restored! A few months later, Alice fainted. Her eyes rolled back in her head and those who attended to her could hardly detect a pulse. Again, the pastor prayed with her and again she recovered.
When Auntie Mavis complained of a headache and a fever on August 21, 2010, the siblings had no idea that the next day they would lose yet another loved one. After Auntie Mavis’s sudden death, the two were destitute again: homeless and orphaned. They initially both moved in with relatives in another town. It soon became clear that these relatives did not share Mavis’s commitment to caring for orphaned children. Instead, they were treating the children as servants and Alice was not receiving the health and nutritional support she needed living with HIV.
Chileshe and Alice are just two of many orphans deeply affected by the loss of their parents and the instability that follows. Ignored or abandoned by their guardians, these children are finding hope and a home through Forgotten Voices’s local church partners. Last year Pastor Vincent and his wife invited Alice to spend her school vacation with them, back in her familiar community. They also approached the extended family members, offering that Alice and Chileshe could come and live with them. While Alice remained with relatives, Chileshe eventually moved out. Wary of his past experience in the street, no other relatives were willing to take him in. Stirred by compassion for Chileshe and a desire to keep this young man off the street, Pastor Vincent’s family has taken him into their home, where he is receiving care and spiritual counseling. They ask us to pray for his healing and salvation.
Alice and Chileshe’s stories exemplify not only the strength and courage of the children Forgotten Voices supports but also the love, commitment, and compassion of the church. In partnership with Forgotten Voices, Ndeke ECZ supported Mavis’ passion to care for the orphans in her community and have continued her legacy of ministering to children even after her death.