Last year Esther and Alinafe from Malawi were the faces of Tearfund’s Work A Miracle appeal launched to combat the spread of HIV in the areas in which it works. Back from a trip to their village, the charity’s Director Paul Brigham updates us on how they are doing ...
Inspire readers will remember Esther, who eight months ago, was at the centre of our Work A Miracle appeal. Esther knew that when she gave birth to her daughter there was a risk that she may have transmitted the virus. Miraculously though, at the end of last year she found out that her daughter, Alinafe, didn’t have HIV.
Church and community support
When I got to Fombe it was great to find Esther feeling better and looking healthy. Her HIV positive status is now more widely known in the village and she and Alinafe are feeling strong support from both the local church and community.
The Work A Miracle appeal, specifically focused on the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, was also the first step in realising Tearfund’s vision: to stop the spread of HIV in the poorest places where we work by 2015 through the support of a network of local churches around the world.
The local church is at work in Fombe and it made me realise that when the local church responds, it does so out of a deep sense of love for the local community.
It puts aside prejudice and transforms lives materially and spiritually. The local church really does offer people hope and a long lasting route out of poverty.
Esther told me she is feeling much better and is getting medical help in Blantyre, the main town closest to her village. “I’ve been taking my medicine for four months and it has helped, but there are a number of side effects - my heart is racing, I can’t see too far and there is a bitter taste in my mouth.”
Esther does remain positive about her improvements though. She’s due to return to the clinic to see how the side effects can be helped. But even that is a challenge. The basic fare is K800 (£2.93).
“I will probably need to take on casual labour just to be able to afford the fare to hospital,” she says.
Life for Alinafe
Esther was also keen to tell me all about how her daughter has been getting on. “Alinafe is doing well at school and is currently fourth in her class. Her favourite subject is Maths and her ambition is to be a nurse.”
On the day I visit, Alinafe is home early as no-one had turned up to teach the class.
Alinafe tries to help her Mum round the house and says: “If my mother cooks one meal in the day, I cook the other. I also help in the field, looking after the goat.”
Esther says she feels positive about the future on the whole. She recently harvested her crops and was able to sell her cotton for a goat, a blanket, two pieces of cloth and a dress for Alinafe. Alinafe is very proud of her dress and wears it every day.
Why it matters
As I sat with Esther on her porch step, we looked back at photos taken of herself and Alinafe last year. Alinafe was enthralled and loved seeing her photos. I thanked Esther for sharing her story with us.
I told her how the photos had moved many people and that the money we had raised would go on to help many more people and communities.
The Work A Miracle appeal continues to raise money for Tearfund’s vital HIV and AIDS work. So far we have raised £2.4 million. Further information from www.tearfund.org/miracle
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