Through no fault of her own, the best future 13 year-old Sylivia used to hope for was selling tomatoes at the local market.
The girl’s mother had a hard time when her first husband died of AIDS and left her with five children to take care of. Sylivia’s father befriended the widow, and ended up marrying her and moving into the family home. Soon afterwards, Sylivia was born. Sadly, her father died of AIDS when she was just two and a half years old.
As a two-time widow, Sylivia’s mother struggled to keep all her children fed and clothed – but things were even more difficult for Sylivia, the only child of her second husband. According to local custom, a woman is not supposed to bring another man into the house or land of her former husband, let alone produce a child there. Sometimes the clan of the first husband will rise against a wife in this situation, chasing her away from the land and home. Fortunately this has not happened in Sylivia's case.
Sylivia's mother sells tomatoes in Rwaihamba Market twice a week to earn survival money. She provided for Sylivia's school needs as long as she could, but at the demands of the family became too large, she sought help from KIDA. Dropping out of school would have exposed Sylivia to the dangers faced by so many girls orphaned by AIDS. With no one to hold their hand, they do whatever it takes to make ends meet, which can include prostitution or early marriages. Not only does this put young girls at higher risk for contracting HIV – it also reduces their lifetime earning potential and ability to take care of their family’s health.
KIDA’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s program was a dream come true for Sylivia. The program now provides her with school fees, a uniform, fuel for her lamp for evening homework, medication, and supplies. In addition to giving her the education and skills she’ll need to earn a good living as an adult, the program also provides professional counseling to help her deal with the emotional issues that come with living in such a vulnerable family situation.
Today, 13-year old Sylivia is happy and thriving. She has hope for the future. And like many children in the KIDA program, Sylivia would love to become a nurse at the KIDA Hospital, so she can support her family and community when she becomes an adult.