Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Witness

I share this story of Vicky's, who shared it with us. From Traces. There is nothing to add to this witness. This is simply the way to live.

There will be a Rhythm 'n' Soul Benefit Concert in New York on January 19th which will take place at the Cooper Union Great Hall. The proceeds from this event will be used by AVSI for the HIV/AIDS project "Meeting Point Kitgum" in Uganda, the center that was available to Vicky.
My name is Vicky. I am 42 and I come from the eastern region of Uganda. I
want to thank you and God for the precious life that He has given me. In 1992,
when I found out I was pregnant with Brian, my last child, my husband gave me
the choice of giving up the pregnancy and remaining his wife, or separating from
him if I wanted to keep the child. At the time, I only had two children, and I
decided to carry on with the pregnancy, a choice that marked the end of my
relationship with him. I truly couldn’t understand why he was so cruel and
unyielding. Then, in 1997, when I lost my job because of sickness and, at the
same time, my son Brian manifested the initial symptoms of tuberculosis, I began
to have my first suspicions. The next year, I got worse. In the Nsambiya
hospital, I was examined and tested for AIDS, and showed up HIV-positive. That
was when I understood why my husband hadn’t wanted the pregnancy with Brian,
because back then he had known that he was HIV-positive.

Life at home with my three children became even more difficult. The two
older boys were healthy, but we didn’t have enough money for school. We didn’t
have food or money for medicine and, worst of all, we didn’t have love from
anyone anywhere in the world. I really didn’t know whether God existed. In 2001,
someone directed me to the International Meeting Point, where I encountered
women with such joy on their faces, even though they too were sick with AIDS,
that I found it hard to believe. They danced and were glad, and I wondered how
anyone with this disease could sing and dance. At the Meeting Point, they
welcome all with music and songs from different peoples–African, European, and
Indian; I even heard some from my own tribe. After a long time, I began to see a
glimmer of light shining on my ruined life, so I continued spending time with
them.“An important thing I’ll never forget is the day someone looked at me with
a gaze shining with hope and love. In all the time I was bedridden, all my
friends, relatives, and even neighbors looked at me and my children with
rejection and contempt. This gaze of love and hope showed me something that
brought life to my spirit and my ruined body. It told me, ‘Vicky! You have a
value, and your value is greater than the weight of your sickness, greater than

In 2002, I began buying medicine for my child, who was on the verge of
death, after taking him out of school because of the seal of discrimination
they’d set on him: they’d nicknamed him ‘skeleton.’ In 2003, I began buying
medicine for myself as well. I weighed 99 pounds, and now I weigh 165. Now Brian
is truly healthy, and has begun going back to high school. My oldest son is
attending the university, and the second is in the fourth year of high school.
Where is the power of death? It is in the loss of hope and the lack of love. Now
I am a volunteer at the Meeting Point, and every time I receive people I tell
them that the value of life is greater than that of the virus they carry within
their bodies. This affirmation nurtures the hope of people who are suffering and
about to die, and brings them back to life. All these results have been possible
because I have taken on the garment of something beyond death–in particular,
love. I want to thank all the people who have educated us, even if we’ve never
met them in person. Today, in the name of Fr. Giussani, Fr. Carrón has come
among us, who were poor and forgotten. Who is richer than us now? We are the
richest people in the world, because someone has brought a smile to the face of
at least one person.

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