International Women's Day

On International Women's Day, I honor the grandmothers.

Kenya, the country in which I work to build an HIV care system for children, is a country with one million orphans. Most of these orphans are cared for by grandmothers like Martha. Martha is raising her 12-year-old grandson. She struggles with the stress of making sure he takes his HIV medicines every day, and she worries about a future where she will need to tell him that he has this infection - and eventually prepare him to take care of himself.

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On International Women's Day, I honor the mothers.

On the benches of our HIV clinics across the western third of Kenya, mothers sit patiently for hours with their babies and children. No matter how early I walk into the clinic, there are always mothers waiting for me because they will do anything to make sure that their precious child receives the care they need. Even though they are eagerly waiting for a doctor, this doctor learns every day from mothers like Mary. Mary has taken her daughter Ruth from being a tiny, sick baby into a confident, sweet adolescent. Mary gathered up her courage for the challenging process of telling Ruth that she was infected with HIV, and she is walking her daughter into womanhood with love.

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On International Women's Day, I honor the daughters.

Sick and healthy, small and big, silly and serious, I love the girls who pass through the doors of our clinics. The girls who are the future, the girls whose hearts and hands and dreams will shape their country if only they are given the opportunity to be healthy and educated. I love girls like Faith, who want nothing more than to stay strong enough to go to school and to make their parents proud.

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On International Women's Day, I honor the girls who stand alone.

We stand with you, beautiful orphans and girls whose voices are silenced and girls who are pushed to the margins by poverty, by religious rules, by violence, by captivity. We hear you. We want to listen better and to make your voices strong. I stand with J, my beautiful orphaned daughter who was one of the lucky ones who found her way to a place with food and shelter and the chance to go to school and to be healthy. I stand with those little girls who are still living on the outskirts of others' homes, unwanted and unseen.

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International Women's Day. Let us honor the grandmothers, the mothers, the daughters, the girls who stand alone. Today, let us stand together.

 

Posted at 10:28

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