Jewel shines with Shalom’s care
By Persis Andrews | International
Stock Photo by Darina Belonogova via Pexels
Ratna*, now a thoughtful, confident, and sensitive young adult, recalls her early years as being full of fun without any cares in the world. But her world turned upside down when, soon after her parents were diagnosed with HIV, she also tested positive in 2013.
She was devastated. “All my desires – especially of marrying – were completely shattered after my HIV diagnosis”.
Ratna's parents noticed the change as their once jolly young girl became quiet, fearful, angry and irritable. For two years, she refused to take her prescribed antiretroviral medication, and became extremely sensitive to the way others perceived her.
Ratna had lost all motivation. It took a doctor from the government hospital to convince her that life was far from over. He told her: “Just because you are HIV positive does not mean that you will not find a man you like. There are several eligible men who are also HIV positive who you could possibly consider. Just take care of yourself”.
From this point, Ratna began to take her medication. At the same time, she and her family were enrolled in a home-based care programme run by SIM and Hope for Life's partner ministry, ‘Shalom’.
Given the many questions and fears Ratna had around her HIV status, she was immediately welcomed into Shalom’s HIV positive children’s support group for fully disclosed HIV positive girls. There, she was able to access support and counselling to help her come to terms both with herself and with the challenges of living with HIV.
When asked what her name means, Ratna says, with a shy smile, “It means 'a precious jewel'. Oftentimes people’s names reflect their qualities…I have come to realize my value after being taught about it in Shalom.”
With a huge smile, she says: “I desperately wait for the next support group meeting so that I can openly share with my peers all that is happening in my life”.
“The support group has given me friendships with lovely girls like *Saba who listen to me, understand me, and advise me with my best interest in mind. I really enjoy the support group”.
While caring for her, staff and volunteers at Shalom realised Ratna was on the verge of dropping out of school. They advocated for her to continue schooling and were able to sign her up to their educational assistance programme to cover her monthly tuition fees. Today, Ratna not only goes to school regularly, but is also able to tutor other young children in her local area.
Shalom sees amazing leadership potential in Ratna and hopes that one day she will be a peer leader among adolescent girls enrolled in other HIV positive children’s support groups.
Without Shalom’s care and love in service to Christ, Ratna’s life – just like those of so many others who find they are HIV positive – seemed bleak and pointless.
Now, she can see her true value. Gleaming, she says: “Shalom taught me how to live”.
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If you would like to support this ministry you can do so by clicking here.
• Ask for God's wisdom and discernment to rest on the adolescent programme team as they invest in young lives.
• Ask that the adolescents currently enrolled would faithfully do all the classes and benefit from the programme.
• Praise God that two girls from our home-based care programme got into a hospital-based nursing and midwifery course.
*Names have been changed for privacy