Her name was Kw'nelle (Kwa-nellie). She never knew her biological parents. She was born into a community in South Africa that has about 50% of its members either HIV positive or in full blown AIDS. In her particular community, an average of 30 people die per day from the complications of the disease. In her larger community, there are over 5,000 child headed households. Because of HIV/AIDS ravaging the adult population, the average age of the head of those households is 15 years of age.
She was born HIV positive. She didn't have a say in the matter. She didn't have a say in the matter either that she was abandoned at birth. This is the world that "Nellie" was born to.
Nellie was taken in by a local ministry and cared for until a week or so ago. She had been on ARV's, medicines that kept the HIV at bay, since a baby. Those medicines combined with the love and provisions of her caregivers were the only things that kept her alive. Until last week.
Nellie passed away. She was 8 years old. She had an infection in her ear that eventually worked its way into an abscess in her brain. The doctors tried. Her caregivers did all they could. Prayer was mobilized all around the world for Nellie. But Nellie's little body combined with the constant battle with HIV/AIDS finally reached its limit.
I had the honor to be at her memorial service. I am an outsider but was overwhelmed with the love of those who knew Nellie. Her 30 "brothers and sisters" at the orphange. Her kind and godly caregivers who had raised Nellie. The members of the community and local churches who had known and come to love Nellie. The memorial was for Nellie but I received the blessing.
There is nothing left for us to do for Nellie except celebrate that she is now at home with Jesus. We can also rejoice that she is not in pain like she was those last few days.
There is nothing left for us to do for Nellie but we can resolve to do something about the specter of HIV/AIDS that so cripples Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world.
We can pray. We can pray that God will lead us to a cure for this terrible disease. We can pray for those working in this field. We can pray for workers and ministries who are tirelessly ministering to those affected.
We can get involved. Our churches or civic groups could pack an In Home Care Kit to be sent to help caregivers and families ministering to those dying of HIV/AIDS.
We can support others that minister in these areas. We can help people like those who helped Nellie even if we can't go and do it ourselves.
I am so blessed. I don't know why God has blessed me so much. I don't know why I was born with all the advantages that Nellie never had. I do pray that I will be a good steward of what God has blessed me with so that more "Nellies" and communities where Nellie has come from can experience a more abundant life.
In memory of Nellie...