My life has been changed forever by a little guy named Juancito. He's 5, maybe 6-no one seems to really know. He likes to cuddle. He holds on like a little monkey. He throws really good tantrums. He doesn't speak to white people. His eyes are amazingly big and beautiful. He wears the same clothes everyday. He has a horrible cough. He always has a fever. He is extremely malnourished (under the 3rd percentile on all my charts). His mom died of AIDS 2 years ago. He tested positive for HIV after that.
He breaks my heart because I want to help him and don't know how. Is it more of a help to leave him with whatever family and structure he has or to try to meet his medical and physical needs by bringing him to our house? He's extremely sick right now, possibly due to AIDS, so is it better to have family take care of him? Do we risk taking him in during his last days...days he could have spent with his family? But what if he is just sick and needs some intensive care that we could offer him? His dad said that today he's so sick he's refusing food.
It's all so hard to take in. It's hard because I want to take him in. I want to make it all better and my heart hurts because I can't make it better. I can't make him better. I can't take his AIDS away or his cough (TB??) or his fevers. I hurt because he must feel miserable. I hurt because he doesn't deserve this. Oh, little Juancito, what I would do to just take it all away.
I tell these stories not to dramatize life here, not to publicize the bad, not to take advantage of these kids, but to open eyes to another world. A world where HIV positive kids can go for years without receiving any medications because they aren't sick enough. A world where the realities of death and poverty and sickness and hungry kids are in your face daily. A world I have come to love and embrace and a world that continues to challenge me. It's a world that, even with the hurts, I am thankful to be a part of.