September 03, 2009


Here we are at KIWAKKUKI at its new location in Moshi. The building is shiny, and the staff are enthusiastic. But, the needs are grave. With the economic crisis globally, there is little money to go around. Although, KIWAKKUKI proudly believes that it has helped the national HIV+ prevalence rates to decrease by at least 1% through their counseling, testing and education programs, they are still burdened by the orphans left behind in the first wave of the epidemic, and by the positive persons who are striving to maintain a quality of life.

Let me highlight a survivor of this epidemic:
Melkizedik is an 18 year old young man who has no parents. He has some distant relatives who for years shuttled him back and forth. Melki never knew that he was HIV-infected until he got quite ill and was admitted to KCMC Hospital. A fabulous Assistant Medical Officer, Rehema Kiwera, cared for him there, and helped him adjust to his new diagnosis. She helped him to find a place to live with a "small" sister. (This means the daughter of a different wife of Melki's father-both of whom are dead). This living situation was hardly acceptable but for over a year Melki remained in this home. His "small" sister sold used clothes for a living, and had her two small children to care for in addition to Melki. There was no electricity in the house, and the family barely survived on her income.
Melkizediki was so popular at KIWAKKUKI that he earned a place on the Community Advisory Board (CAB) for the Duke researches. During this time, he participated in the Memory Project, which allowed him to make a Memory Book and trace his family roots. These books have served young people in many ways and have allowed them to find some family members, to locate their tribe, and to help them find closure on the deaths of their parents. One advantage of belonging to the Memory Project is that young people are also registered as orphans, and this helps them to be eligible for discounts for school fees and for other services. But, one thing for Melki was that he wanted to attend school more than anything else, and he had not been in school for some years as he had been sent back and forth from Moshi to Dar Es Salaam.
Melkizediki was lucky. During the time that he was attending the CAB meetings and attending Memory Project work, some wonderful volunteers were spending time at KIWAKKUKI. Just some of them, Jennifer L., Tone A., Jennifer A., Caitlin H., Kimberly W., were so touched by his desire to return to school, to make a better life, and to try very hard to improve; and, at the same time to take every one of his pills every day, to attend the clinic at KCMC on a regular basis, and to be able to speak publically about his HIV, that they agreed to help to support him. Jennifer L. paid his school fees while the others began support. They and their parents, as well as the Weiss family has made Melkizediks dream begin to be a reality.
Melkizediki has a long way to go. He had to leave the "small" sister's house and has moved into a place of his own. The cost is overwhelming, and in this room, though he has electricity and quiet, he has no mentoring for school, and his chances of making his grades all the way through secondary are questionnable. Supporting him for this period of time will be difficult, especially in these tough economic times. His only hope is his support from KIWAKKUKI and from these wonderful friends who have sacrificed much to help him remain in school.
Melkizediki tells me-Say a big "Asenteni Sana" for all who have helped. (Thank you very much). I know who you are, remember you all, and want to see you again!

Stay tuned for a picture of Melkizediki and for more stories from KIWAKKUKI

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