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A New Day

As soon as she left they threw everything in the trash. The spoon that touched her lips, the plate that grazed her hand, discarded as defiled, contaminated, fouled. When she entered a room, they left; when she walked down the street, they crossed to the other side. Her family and friends deserted her; she was unemployed because no one would ever consider hiring someone like her. Living in shame and defeat, her only consolation was at the bottom of the next bottle.

This was the reality of countless people with HIV and AIDS living in Uganda. Modern-day lepers cut off from the life spring of community pivotal to this culture and shunned from society. Then, 11 years ago, two people decided to do something. Their idea came from God's repertoire of impossible ideas, and providentially, the two dreamers - Colleen Stevenson and David Wafula - were bold enough to try. The idea was to organize community support, create jobs and educate the people of Uganda on the prevention and treatment of this disease. And so, Tumaini AIDS Prevention Program (TAPP) was born. Today, the program has provided thousands of men, women and children the opportunity to live a full life despite having AIDS. Through the program, individuals can buy products handmade by the women in this program, and this income helps them support their families. They are educated on AIDS prevention and treatment, receive medicine to help control symptoms, and support each other in group meetings, always praising God for what He has done for them. It's easy to see a snapshot of their lives - what few possessions they have, their incurable disease - and wonder how they can praise God. But when you meet them, worship with them, hug them, you can't help but feel His love pouring out of them. Maybe their suffering has allowed them to witness the mercy and grace of God in a way other cannot. Maybe, because they have so little, they realize all they need to be happy is Jesus. Whatever the reason, we know this- in the middle of a village, tucked amidst the winding streets and hanging laundry rests a church housing a group of people who have seen God. And He is there with them.

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