Demonstrating the Fathers love to the fatherless
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the cause of the widow." Isaiah 1:17
God is the Father of the fatherless.
The Scriptures speak of God’s fatherly care for the least, the last and the left out. From the Levitical laws to Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead, the Bible is full of God’s compassion for the vulnerable. As God’s people, we bear a family resemblance when we care for those who are helpless. This is part of what God the Father sees as 'pure and faultless religion' (James 1:27).
SIM’s HOPE for AIDS’ project, Operation Neighbour Care (ONC), was started in 2010 as a response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic that was ravaging many parts of Africa. Over the years, God’s love has been demonstrated to thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. Orphans like sixteen-year-old Ariko* who know what it is like to experience pain and a sense of powerlessness.
Ariko, who contracted HIV and AIDS during childbirth, lost his mother as a young boy and has never known his father. He went to live with his grandmother in a village nestled in a valley where everything turns green and beautiful in the summer. Although his grandmother loves him, she struggled to pay his school fees and provide for his basic needs. When ONC learnt of Ariko's situation, they offered him a school scholarship.
Ariko faces many challenges as a HIV and AIDS orphan. When he fell sick with tuberculosis in 2014, his grandmother thought it was because he was “bewitched” and did not seek medical help for him. He continued to get sicker and sicker until ONC offered help.
ONC spoke with his grandmother and helped her to move away from the mentality that he was “cursed” or bewitched. They also contributed to the cost of his hospital fees and medication. Since receiving assistance from ONC, Ariko's grandmother has started volunteering her time to help other children.
Today Ariko lives with a high quality of life through managing his HIV and AIDS. The ever smiling Ariko never misses a day of school. He walks sixteen kilometres up and down a steep escarpment every day to and from school. He treasures his education, is a bright student, and is hopeful that he might become a doctor one day so he can treat sick children.
Ariko is also a proud goat owner. In Ariko's culture, you earn respect when you have wealth in the form of animals.
Ariko said: "Operation Neighbour Care brought hope and blessing to my life and my grandmother. Ever since I stayed with my grandmother, we never owned goats or cattle. But in 2016 when I was given a goat by ONC, the community started to value us. In 2017 we even bought a cow!"
Laughing, Ariko also went on to say that every morning when he wakes up, the first thing he does is check on his goats. He looks after his goats well, making sure they don't get run over by cars on the roadside. He also makes sure his goats don't go up the mountains where there are hyenas and baboons. He has been able to sell his goat’s offspring to pay for his school uniform, stationery and food to supplement his diet.
Since 2010, Operation Neighbour Care has been able to assist 2878 orphans and vulnerable children who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. Fatherless children like Ariko, have been able to experience the love of their Heavenly Father.