First Time JVMI Missions Volunteer Helps HIV Victim

Jeremie Sare, Jonathan Bernis, Julee Kasserman, and Derinda Walker in Addis.

Jeremie Sare, Jonathan Bernis, Julee Kasserman, and Derinda Walker in Addis.

By Julee Kasserman,
Volunteer nurse at 2011 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, medical outreach

For my first mission trip with Jewish Voice, I worked in the nurse’s station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2011.  The team of nurses in that station worked diligently to provide treatments for the conditions of impoverishment.  We provided ear irrigations to remove dirt, bugs, and debris from the ear canal likely caused by sleeping on the dirt or having inadequate shelter.  We also treated skin infections that could have been easily prevented by regular bathing with soap and water.

At times it was painful to look upon their desperate state.  On Wednesday, a mother carried her infant into the nurse’s station. This little baby boy had a large burn on his leg. I carefully cleansed the wound while the mother held her whimpering infant on her lap. I felt so bad for the child. I looked up into the mother’s face and saw how sad and hopeless she looked. I noticed the infant I was treating wore no pants and no shoes, only a shirt.

I asked the mother, “How many children do you have?”  The translator interpreted the mother’s response:  “I have these two twins.  I have HIV, and I don’t have any formula at home.”

It took me a moment to realize what she was saying. I tried to imagine what the mother was feeling. She might have felt guilty because her child got burned or because she was unable to provide for her children. She couldn’t even provide her own nourishment for her children because of the HIV.

My heart sank as I felt her pain. When we were finished with the wound care, I instructed the mother to bring the infant back for follow-up dressing changes. That day, before the family left the compound, JVMI workers were able to provide this family with donated formula and clothing. By the end of the week, the burned skin on the infant was pink and almost completely intact, and when I looked into the face of the mother, I saw that she had hope.

I preached the Gospel while I was in Addis Ababa, but I didn’t need to use words. They knew we loved them because we cared.

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