Making Spirits Bright

makingspirits-bright

 

Dear Rehma Family,

This Christmas, we invite you to honour your loved ones and make a donation on their behalf! If you are looking for a meaningful gift that will make an impact in the lives of many, please consider making a donation to The Rehma Project in these specific ways:

 

Sponsor a player for $15

The annual Rehma Tournament for 2017 is already in the planning stages. This tournament brings over 500 youth and hundreds more spectators from the area in a two month intense tournament. This tournament is keeping youth busy in sports and out of destructive habits, keeping them in the care of amazing mentors who are pouring into their lives daily at the pitch, and promoting unity and peace in the community. For $15, you can ensure a spot in the tournament for a bright youth!

New mom and baby package for $50

Want to send a special gift to a support, encourage, and equip a new mom and baby? We have a new program aimed at loving women and babies. We will be handing out a new born kit equipped with the essentials (and some treats for moms) to the new babies on the block. $50 helps get a bright mom and baby get started on the right track!

School Scholarships for $150

Every year we hand a number of school scholarships to young men and women who have shown great character in the community. For $150 you can ensure a bright future for a youth in Kongowea!

Along with a donation, you will receive a card in the mail that you can gift to that special someone describing the gift you gave in their honour.

To donate, please email us at info@rehmaproject.org and we will get you started!

Thank you for making spirits bright this Christmas!

 

It has become too real…

HIV/AIDS, that is.

It became too real for me last week.

I remember, during my first trip to Kenya in 2005, wondering where all the AIDS was. I mean, back home in Canada, we had been fed the news that this horrendous disease is killing the masses. Words like ‘epidemic’, ‘catastrophe’, and ‘threat to humanity’ were being used to describe the disease. Celebs were creating clothing lines where profits were going to ‘fight’ AIDS in Africa. AIDS day became a new holiday. As far as I understood, it was a big deal.

So you can understand my confusion, as a naive 17-year-old girl with a heart to save the whole world, when I came to Kenya and didn’t see ‘it’ anywhere. I guess I didn’t really know what ‘it’ looked like.

I began to realize that people don’t walk around with big stamps on their foreheads saying, “I have AIDS!”. It’s actually not easy to point out people who are living with AIDS because often they are sick with very common sicknesses like pneumonia, malaria, typhoid, or even the flu. Because their immune systems are so weak (because of AIDS), those seemingly common sicknesses become life threatening to those living with AIDS. If you meet an orphan whose parent died with AIDS, they will most likely tell you that the parent died of a common disease like typhoid or pneumonia which is true but AIDS played a big part in that.

I am not an expert on the disease by all means but I have learnt some things in the years I have lived here.

Now I know many people who are living with AIDS. Some of them are very near and dear to me.

I even had a doctor tell me once that, if he had a choice between AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, he would rather have AIDS since, with the right treatment, you can have a long and healthy life with it.

However, last week, the reality of this nasty disease became too real for me.

Kelvin got news that one of his friends was ‘sick’ in the hospital. We didn’t know what ‘sick’ meant as that is how Kenyans describe any type of sickness they are feeling. But we quickly learned that he is suspected to have AIDS as a woman, who he was known to have slept with, was in the same hospital dying of AIDS. Apparently, they are certain wards that contain just people with AIDS and she was in one of those wards. Kelvin went to see her and she was already paralyzed on the left side of her body and was unable to speak. I had met the lady just a week before that.

Kelvin went to see how his buddy was doing since his family really didn’t want anything to do with him if he was now infected with AIDS. People still tend to shun others who have the disease, even if they are their own family.

This lady, who was now on her death bed, wrote a list of all the men she had slept with. On this list were several more of Kelvin’s friends and men in the community. After Kelvin got this list, he rounded up these men as well as some other buddies, and they all wen to get tested. Unfortunately, some came out positive.

This is when my heart really started to break for so many reasons:

– a whole bunch of men, some close buddies, all shared the same woman. I think that is pretty nasty and can only imagine how ashamed I would feel knowing my close friend and I slept with the same person.
-a lot of these men, including our friend, are actually married.
-in one day, their lives have dramatically changed because they couldn’t keep it in their pants just once.
-the community probably won’t be so forgiving of them now that they are infected.
-these men may have slept with other women after sleeping with this woman which means that they could have infected a whole bunch of other women. So now they may have to break the news to some women they got all cozy with, that they too need to be tested.
-I kept wondering how this woman, who was dying in the hospital, was feeling after she infected all these men. Did she know she had AIDS? Did she do it on purpose? Maybe she got it from one of them?
– this lady doesn’t have any family around so I think she was dying a sad and lonely death.

The whole situation made AIDS become too real; it hit too close to home.

And my heart was heavy, really heavy.

I asked Kelvin what we can do. He said that the best thing we can do is teach those close to us to be responsible. For me, that means I have a group of young women from that community that I can reach out to to make sure it doesn’t happen to them.

Finally, last night, we got the call telling us the woman died.

On the road again…again

We are leaving tonight. I hope.

We were suppose to go  to kipkaren a few weeks ago to work with an organization there and help build up a soccer program for youth. However, stuff happened and we didn’t make it. In fact, we missed our bus but that was only the beginning of a rather crazy week.

Tonight we are booked to leave Mombasa at 10:30. We will probably arrive in Eldoret around 1pm tomorrow, pick up some free soccer balls, and then head to kipkaren for a week or so. I am still thoroughly looking forward to our time up there, connecting with friends, and seeing how we can connect with youth. I have packed my socks and sweaters and looking forward to getting a bit chilly.

You probably won’t here from me till next week!

PS. Our boys actually won today! They have been having a hard time winning lately and have been getting a bit discouraged. Our goal was phenomenal! If he wasn’t there, we would have lost terribly. The goal we scored was kind of lame but, hey, a goal is a goal. Everyone had heavy hearts today after a young man, a friend to many of our boys, was shot dead yesterday by a police man in Kongowea. It was such a tragedy that seems to have rocked a lot of people. My heart goes out to the family, who we know well, who is now having to deal with the loss of a son/brother. I am just thankful that our boys were more interested in watching the MAN U vs ARESENAL game than attending some political rally (where this boy was shot).