The Secret of Their Lives

A little girl at the HIV group home looks out the front door to a sunny courtyard.

Most of the children here don’t know they are HIV+. It’s too risky.

Their teachers don’t know. Their neighbors definitely don’t know because if they did, they would have to move again. They’ve moved eight times in ten years, all 28 children. If their teachers knew, they would be isolated and discriminated against or even kicked out of their pricey private school — a school they attend because they don’t have to inform the principal of their disease.

Most of these children don’t even know about the disease in their blood, the disease that killed many of their parents, robbed them of their life in their villages and that was likely passed to them at birth.

They just know that they have strict rules to follow.

Absolutely no fighting. No rough housing. If they get a cut or a scratch, they have their own first aid kit. And they have Mr. Huang.

“The kids are happy now,” Mr. Huang says, his face worn and tired, his spiky, graying hair hinting at his age.

When children pass through the living room of the apartment, they stop to grab his hands or talk to him and his eyes soften as he greets them lovingly.

“They are too young,” Mr. Huang says. “They don’t understand their fate. But as they get older, they will learn. The discrimination will start. They will always have to keep their secret.”

Continue reading “The Secret of Their Lives”

Building on a Promise

A photo essay and update on the mother and child hospital Holt is helping to build in Shinshicho, Ethiopia.

The front of the maternal-child hospital. The round portion in the right of the photo is a ramp large enough for hospital staff to transport patient beds from floor to floor. When the hospital is complete, the ramp will be encased in large glass windows.

In 2010, the Holt-funded maternal-child hospital in Shinshicho, Ethiopia didn’t start off looking like much — just hollow cement walls framed by rough wood scaffolding. Without a roof or floor, rain turned the empty, 40,000 square foot space into a giant, mud-splattered maze. It was hard to imagine the finished product. But hundreds of people believed in the space — believed it was a place the Lord would bless — and together, through sacrifices of time and money, the humble foundation has begun to transform into a state-of-the-art health care center, complete with surgical labs, X-ray rooms and more than 100 doctors trained in advanced care. And with the transformation of the building has come an improved livelihood for families in the region.

Continue reading “Building on a Promise”