This is the house that Janice built. It has four rooms to shelter her four children, ages 5-15 years. Strings stretch wall to wall on which clothing hangs. Reed mats for sleeping are neatly stowed away beneath a hanging anti-malaria bed net. In the front room she stores a bicycle.
Janice’s husband died of AIDS not long before the GAIA Villages program was introduced in 2008. Janice suffered from complications related to HIV and was urged to get tested and begin the anti-retroviral regimen. Two of her 4 children began taking the medications as well. Once she became strong, the GAIA Community Caregivers provided two goats and helped build an elevated pen.
In 2011, GAIA concluded the 3-year intervention. Janice’s HIV support group continues to meet bi-weekly and has formed its own savings and loan association. Janice is open about her HIV status in her community, so much so that she has taken on the role of volunteer HIV educator and counselor and continues the work introduced by GAIA. She uses the bicycle to visit households and collect medications from the hospital, located nine miles away, for home delivery.
The patient became the caregiver.
“Thank you for remembering us even though GAIA has gone away,” she said when our group of GAIA staff and donors was departing. Thank you, Janice, for your honesty, courage, hard work and love of neighbor.