I got more HIV/AIDS related phone calls during this week way more than usual. Many times when people call me they are asking about Nyaka AIDS orphaned children enrolled at Nyaka and Kutamba Secondary Schools, or those staying with grannies in rural Uganda. However, these calls were about news of a young child in Mississippi who was cured of HIV/AIDS.
Many people who called me have read my book, A School for My Village and know that my nephew, Gaddaffi, was born with HIV/AIDS. Gaddafi was an energetic young boy who contracted HIV/AIDS from his mother. He would have celebrated his 17th birthday this year. There is not a day that passes without my thinking about him and his mother, as well as my older brother Frank, who also died from the disease. These many friends also know of Scovia, who I highlighted in my book. She was born with HIV/AIDS and passed away while attending our school. These three personal cases are a reminder to me that thousands of mothers pass HIV/AIDS to their unborn children every 24 hours. Avert has great statistics on this subject.
We know there is medication that can prolong the lives of patients with HIV/AIDS, but one must have money to buy it. Take Magic Johnson for example. "Two decades after his shocking admission and quick retirement at 32, Johnson's doctors say he's a 52-year-old specimen of health, comfortably managing HIV with a daily regimen of drugs and exercise." When this medicine finally gets to poor nations where more than 300,000 children are born with HIV/AIDS every year, how will these poor children afford medication? Medical developments are a step in the right direction, but as long as we have income disparities in this world, children born to poor parents will continue to die, while those lucky to be born to rich parents will live.
At the end of the news article about the new treatment discovery, I expected to find uplifting comments about the doctor's success, and the possibility of saving children's' lives in the future. Instead, I found complaints. In the midst of the good news, many people clung to a comment about the family taking the child off the new treatment. They made assumptions about the family's motives without knowing a thing about them.
I always tell people that it is easy to judge when looking from the side lines. I have noticed we do this a lot, especially with sports teams. "How could he miss a free throw," we complain. I have sat with families as they toil and suffer. I have watched hundreds of children die in the hands of their mothers and other loved ones. I have seen babies die because there is no razor blade to cut an umbilical cord. I have seen what poverty can do to families, and each time I feel sorry for people who judge others who have to make difficult decisions. Once in a while, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the guy on the free throw line has pain in his shoulder. Maybe the quarter back was hit hard in the ribs in the first quarter and hurts. Maybe the putter is not the right one and the golfer was unable to adapt to it. Maybe the child's family had hardships we will never understand.
There is a saying in my language: If you are not wrestling, you urge the wrestler to finish the game quickly, but when you are the one wrestling, you know how hard it is to just finish the game.
Let us take this good news for what it is, a new treatment in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Let us not be the one to judge others and throw stones.