Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bags By Lydia of Africa...

When I asked William about Lydia, tears swelled up in his eyes.

Lydia is quietly the sweetest smile in the back of the room… always helpful and always watching.  She aspires to be a successful tailor and is in school to reach that goal.  But, it is her faith and her story, that makes her so remarkable. 

Lydia lived far from town.  At age 8, both her parents died of AIDS.  They left her in the care of her brother, who preferred that she would quickly die and be less of a bother to him.  What was the point?  She was HIV positive and would die anyway.  At age 10, she was very sick and managed to get a neighbor to help her to the Children’s Hospital in Jinja.  They gave her medicine (ARVs) and food and put her on a monthly treatment schedule.  She would have to find transportation each month.  So Lydia, without a family or ANY resources would sell the food they gave her, in order to be able to return each month for the life sustaining ARVs. 

For 3 years, she managed to sell the food and return each month.  She was alive, but just barely, when the hospital lost it’s funding for their food program.  Without the food, there was no way for Lydia to return.  So, on her last trip to the hospital she quietly said goodbye to the nurses who grew to love her.  “This is my last trip to see you as I must die soon.”  

The nurses contacted Our Own Home, which found her near death and took her in.  Her liver and kidneys were failing and there was swelling around her heart.  At age 13,  she was alone and “ready to go be with God.”  But, Lydia recovered.  At Our Own Home, she was put on a strict regiment of LOVE and PRAYER and new medicines.  Lydia will be 16 in December.

She is happy, thriving and quietly ambitious to start her tailoring business.  She says: “God brought me all the way here," and she is going to make the best of every minute HE gives her!  So, she has started making beautiful shoulder bags...

             FOR SALE! 

Her skill as a tailor is still improving, but I can't imagine anyone else in Jinja putting as much "faith, hope and love" into their sewing.  These are the ingredients of Lydia's bags that we will help her try to sell... at least, we hope to get her started!  

She calls them: 

"Bags By Lydia - From Africa."

She sews from a corner of the older girl's room at Our Own Home.  We have purchased fabric and materials and promised to buy her first inventory of purses!  

It is fitting that Lydia’s Uganda name, which I can’t even begin to spell, means: What God has prepared for the poor will not go to waste.

In the story of the good Samaritan, we really don't ever know what happens to the man who was laying naked and half dead in the road.  We know that someone cared enough to cloth and feed and nurse him back to health.  But, what became of him?  Of course, the story is not about the man.  It's about compassion... it's about OUR role in this world filled with suffering.  But I still have to wonder:   Did that man turned out as wonderfully as Lydia?

Here are a few more photos, a video of her new "Daddy William" who loves her dearly and of Lydia using her manual Singer sewing machine.