Diapers, HIV orphans, and Betty

As the cloth diaper project continues to grow slowly, I have been thinking and praying about whether there is any way that I can use this project to help HIV positive orphans.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote my masters thesis on HIV positive orphans and have a special interest in these often overlooked children.  Many of these children end up in institutions or end up dying prematurely – not because they don’t have relatives who are willing to care for them, but because they don’t have relatives who are able to care for them well.  A child who is HIV positive incurs a lot of additional costs that a healthy child does not, and many relatives are already overburdened with expenses and other children to care for.

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The diapers from our diaper project

I believe that one of the best ways to assist HIV positive orphans is to empower their caregivers.  As we are at the point where we would like to start training a few people in tailoring, I thought it would be great if I could identify caregivers of HIV positive orphans who we could train in tailoring, and then provide them with work making diapers.  By giving them a way to earn a good income, they would be better equipped to provide good care for these children.

My main challenge was that I had no idea how I would identify caregivers of HIV positive orphans.  So I’ve been praying that God would somehow connect me with the right people.  The other day, my friend Cari, who runs a wonderful child sponsorship program called Vision of Destiny, told me about Betty, the caregiver for an HIV positive orphan who is being sponsored by Vision of Destiny.

Betty’s sister passed away from AIDS when her son Joel, who was born HIV positive, was just a baby.  Although Betty had three of her own children to care for, she took Joel in and began to raise him as her own son.  Joel is now 7 years old and is in “top class,” the last year of preschool before primary school.  Betty and her husband are also HIV positive, and all three of them are able to access antiretroviral drugs.  Betty is committed to taking care of Joel as his mother; however, she often struggles to provide for her family.  Neither Betty nor her husband have a steady job, and both of them receive a little money from casual jobs.

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Betty and Joel

Betty also receives a small income from a craft group run by Vision of Destiny, where she crochets beautiful bags out of discarded plastic bags.  Right now, she has to take these bags to a tailor and pay her to add lining and a zipper, but she is very interested in learning tailoring.  Through her craft group she has shown that she is very creative, but she does not have the resources to pursue a tailoring course.

We would like to offer her an opportunity to learn tailoring.  One of my goals with the diaper project is to train women in basic tailoring, so that way even if the diaper project falls apart we will have given them a valuable skill that they can use to support their families.  Once we have trained them, we can also give them work making diapers for us, as well as giving them flexibility to also pursue other orders or setting up their own business.  Rosette, one of the tailors who has been making diapers, worked as a tailoring teacher for 7 years and is qualified to teach other women.

Betty will be starting on Monday and we are looking for people who would be interested in sponsoring her.  The cost of paying Rosette to teach her is $50 each month, and Betty’s transportation costs will be $20 each month.  The course will run for about 6 months.  In addition, we will buy basic supplies for Betty (fabric, thread, scissors, pins etc) that will cost around $30.  Finally, we have been using my own electric sewing machine for the project so far, but we would like to purchase a manual sewing machine as well since we now have two tailors who are making diapers and one who will be learning.  A high quality manual sewing machine is around $150.

Please let me know if you would be interested in providing:

–        10, 25, or 50 dollars each month to go towards Betty’s classes and transportation

–        A one time gift of $30 to cover her supplies

–        A one time gift to go towards the purchase of a manual sewing machine

Thank you!!!

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