In March of 2009, baby Amina was born to a mother who died in labor. The mother was known to have HIV/AIDS and was extremely sick. The child’s father was also dying from the effects of the disease and unable to attend to the needs of the newborn. The police in neighboring town Nakawuka were aware of the problem and contacted Malayaka House for support, as the neighbors who had been looking after the baby were too poor to feed the child and handed her back to her ailing father. Robert picked up the little girl and took her to their doctor for an HIV test.
Amina tested positive and a few months later she was retested to confirm. Indeed, she was born with HIV. Miraculously, in a place such as Uganda, overwhelmed with HIV/AIDS, Amina is the first Malayaka House child to be struck by this awful disease. We found the best hospital in our area and started antiretroviral medicine immediately to support her weak and compromised immune system.
From the beginning, it has been a struggle to keep Amina healthy, as this little girl with HIV catches everything the wind blows through. She has suffered with chronic coughs, diarrhea, ear infections, rashes, and struggles to put on and keep up her weight. Every day presents a new challenge and although we are always prepared for the worst, Amina is a fighter through and through and apparently entered this world with a spirit and determination to survive.
The Aunties love Amina like no other and watch over her from one end of the day to the other. And likewise, Amina is so attached to these women sometimes she will cry for hours when they go home. It is not uncommon for Auntie Winnie or Auntie Elizabeth to take her with them for the night, just to spare the rest of us the pain of hearing her cry. But it is not just these Aunties, she cries for all of them whenever they leave Malayaka House, even our big girls. She is deeply attached and so full of love it is undeniable.
Amina is very active and loves to run, swim, and fly through the air. Her favorite activity is being pushed around the compound on a skateboard by Ishmat or any of the other rough and tumble boys in our care. She is fearless, bold, and confident. When she is not bubbling over with exuberance shouting, singing, and cheering about, she can generally be found working alongside the Aunties. As they do with all the children, the Aunties give Amina important jobs and tasks, like sweeping, carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen, and picking stones from the beans and rice.
So far nothing can get between Amina and her will to thrive. No child could possibly love life as much as this precious girl. Two times every day she chews her medicine (meant to be swallowed) without honey or sugar and goes about her business. Monthly, she proudly goes with Auntie Elizabeth to the Mild May Clinic to get tests and a thorough check-up. Amina is growing stronger every day and although she will live with this disease until the end of her life, so far she has not missed a step.
She graduated from Nursery in 2015 and she started in Pearl of Africa School with Elijah and Arnold. She loves going to school, and the entire house cannot help but be lifted up by her smile, every day.