After her parents died from AIDS five years ago, Jackeline, then 12, had no choice but to live with her impoverished, elderly grandmother, Martha. Together they struggled to survive, living in a crumbling, 8-feet-square, dirt-floor shack in the rural outskirts of Maua, Kenya. With only the food supplied by neighbors and no opportunity for education, life looked bleak and the future hopeless.
“Then a miracle happened,” Jackeline, now 17, said. The staff of Maua Methodist Hospital informed her grandmother that someone would build them a small home, provide fees for schooling and ensure both had health insurance.
This past June, Jackeline and Martha tearfully accepted the keys to their new home. Neighbors and international guests danced and sang as Stanley Gitari, Maua Methodist Hospital administrator, led speeches and prayers of dedication.
The excited clamor of celebration fell to near silence when Chin Keong Tan, a center volunteer from Denver, sang with his deep basso profundo voice: “Bless this house … make it safe by night and day.” Villagers touched their hearts or raised their hands to the heavens as his voice echoed throughout the lush jungle valley.
This home was but the first of 12 houses that donors to the Center for Health and Hope, based in Centennial, Colorado, plan to sponsor this year. The center is a faith-based organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for persons infected and affected by HIV and AIDS around the world.
Since 2004, Gitari and his Maua Methodist Hospital team have built about 360 homes. A careful process ensures the most needy and vulnerable children receive homes. Social workers are assigned to the families to make sure children stay healthy and attend school.