Volusion CEO, Kevin Sproles, has provided a series of guest blogs (with reporting and photography by Kari Costanza and Jon Warren from World Vision) to wrap up our in depth look at The Volusion Foundation and our partnership with World Vision. Initially, we had planned on having a single summary post from Kevin (since he is so busy) but after he landed, we quickly realized that trying to fit all of the amazing stories he witnessed into a single post just wasn’t going to work. Below is the second of our four-part series. The first post can be found here.
Arriving at World Vision in Boset
On this trip we met with a number of inspiring individuals. While they all had an impact, I feel I need to make specific mention of Ayalew and Wubit of the Hope and Light Association.
Wubit from the “Hope and Light Association.”
The Hope and Light Association began in 2005 and is now 156 members strong. Hope and Light advocates minimizing the stigma associated with HIV by working with non-governmental organizations, such as World Vision, to assist people living with HIV and AIDS. One of the techniques they use to break through the fear associated with the virus is to hold candlelight vigils to unite people living with HIV with other community members. They also organize coffee ceremonies (an Ethiopian tradition) for the community to talk about HIV related issues.
One of its members is Metages Legesse. She was affected by these stigmas within the community when her husband died of AIDS in 2006. Her best friend gave into the pressure and abandoned her, leaving her feeling completely alone. “I thought about suicide,” she said. “My friends stigmatized me. I preferred to die.” But Metages continued to fight for the sake of her two sons. Through World Vision sponsorship, the family was offered food and financial assistance, but Metages had different plans. She asked World Vision to provide her with a cow instead of giving her monetary support. “The cow had two calves,” she says. “The cow gives me milk [and] I sell milk and butter. My children are well-fed now because of the milk.”
Metages and her sons Dawit and Yonas.
Metages is now a member of the Community Care Coalition- a group trained by World Vision to care for people living with HIV and AIDS. Metages visits with 35 people living with HIV (15 of which are just children). And her friendship with her best friend? They reunited after a coffee ceremony at Hope and Light. “I was so happy because of her attitude change,” she says. Metages no longer has to live with the stigma that crippled her; in fact, she has been embraced by the community for her work with HIV infected families, and thanks in large part to the efforts of the Hope and Light Association and World Vision.