Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Okay, so that's not his real name. But he's my little Zelulu. Zelala. Zelumlum. Zelalum. I adore him.

Last year, I bravely asked one of our leaders if any of the kids had HIV. I mean, we were in Africa, we were bound to come in contact with at least one person who has HIV. And I didn't know the orphanages policy on children with HIV. Nancy told me that yes, one student had HIV. She didn't know who it was and for most of the trip we thought it was another boy. Towards the end of the trip I found out it was Zelalum. The entire trip we had not connected but I still wanted to get a few pictures with him so I could show people that HIV isn't something that's plastered across your face.

This trip, he was one of the first kids I gave a hug to. I was actually really nervous to see him. Because I was worried he wouldn't be there anymore. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to take care of HIV in Africa? Medicine is impossible to come by if you can even afford it. And guess who I saw as I got off the bus? There he was. Standing in line next to his sister, Kababosh. I gave him the biggest hug and kiss and from then on we were inseparable.

The entire week he would come to me and help me with whatever work I was doing. He would carry my backpack to the bus every afternoon. He would hold my water bottle in the shade to keep it cold. He would hold my hand whenever I went anywhere.

If you just saw him on the street you wouldn't know that he has HIV. However, he does have some very different features that may or may not be from the disease. Zelalum's face is different than any of the other childrens. He has blisters on his hands. His eyes are more yellow than the other children's and his skin is different. But you can attribute any of these things to the lack of nutrition, or unsanitary conditions he lives in. Or maybe the fact that he has any number of other diseases.

But now, Zelalum is getting medicine. He's doing much better even though this medicine is what we no longer will use. (That's what I was told, I don't exactly know what that means.)

He looks so, so good. Check out these before and after pictures!!

He doesn't even look like the same kid! But he's so cute. I love him.

A few days after he really started connecting with me, he stole my camera during one of his recesses. I was helping Evan cut some metal pieces while trying to keep a million children away from the saw when Roza came up and asked me to come with her. Evan was irritated that I wasn't helping him but I just ignored him and went with Roza. She took me to Zelalum who had hand written me two letters, one for Evan and one for me. It was the sweetest thing ever and just broke my little heart. I told him I would read it later but I gave him like 50 hugs and kisses right there and thanked him over and over again. I went back to Evan and we read our letters right away and just about couldn't work the rest of the day.

They basically said the usual. I love you so much. Thank you for coming. I will miss you. But usually you only get letters from the children you sponsor. Not from other kids. Unless they're asking you to send them to school. This was just because. Just because I had picked him out and loved him.

It makes my heart swell.

And that night, when I got back to the hotel and looked through the pictures on my camera, I came across these.

So. Cute. I have a bunch of him and different kids. But I love the ones of him and Roza the most. He is suuuuch a sweet boy.

And I really hope that these kids can one day be adoptable. Not for the fact that I want to take them home. But so that Zelalum has a chance at good medicine. So he can have a normal, healthy life. Because he deserves it. He's such a sweet boy.


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