My friend Judith passed along an email about this earlier today, and I must say, I was captivated by the pictures. I had known of the book and this story before, but today, especially, I was drawn in by the photos and the faces in them.
Melissa Fay Greene is an accomplished author and wrote the award-winning book, There is No Me Without You. It is the story of an Ethiopian middle-class widow named Haregewoin Teferra whose home became a refuge for hundreds of AIDS orphans, and about a few remarkable children who moved through her life. I look at the pictures of Haregewoin, and I just see LOVE in her eyes, in her expression.
Haregewoin Teferra has cared for these children night and day, 24/7. A few days ago, very unexpectedly, she died. The orphans are at risk, and time is of the essence. I know times are tough, (believe me, I do), so if you can't contribute, just pass along this story to others, as it is worth knowing about and learning about, and hopefully others along the way can help.
As I sat looking at the photos, listening to Melissa's voice during the slideshow, and as I read about Haregewoin Teferra...I thought: what an important life has been lost. And, what purpose and meaning she gave to her life by caring for children who might otherwise have been lost. It is bittersweet--she is irreplaceable and this is so sad, but what an amazing gift she gave while she was alive.
Below is the latest about Haregewoin Teferra's passing, and information to make contributions.
To watch a slideshow and hear more about Melissa's family (and her 5 adoptions!), and to hear some statistics that are hard to believe, go here.
For amazing photos of the kids in the orphanage go here.
And for more about Melissa Fay Greene's writing, go here.
By now you may have learned the shocking news that Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra has died suddenly after a short illness. We don't know what caused her death; she felt sick for a couple of days, went to the doctor, came home without a diagnosis, felt sick again, laid down, and that was the end.
We are grieving, yet we have no time to spare: 59 children survive her, many of them toddlers and babies, the majority HIV-positive. Worldwide Orphans--the New York-based organization that has provided pediatric care to Haregewoin's children for many years--has stepped into the breach. They have assumed full custody of the 42 HIV-positive kids and are prepared to take responsibility for the 17 HIV-negative children, as needed, most of them babies and toddlers. Those small children are still at Haregewoin's foster home; their caregivers have stayed on; and the Atetegeb board has taken charge of their well-being for the present. These heroic measures come at high cost: it is estimated to require about $4,600 per child to cover food, healthcare and medicine, education, clothing, and caregivers. Once the children's basic needs are secure, their paperwork will be sorted out: some may be eligible for adoption, others may have extended families in a position to take them in; others may find new placements. No one knows, at this moment, whether Haregewoin had made financial plans for the children in the event of her death. All that can be sorted out in the future. The crisis is NOW: keeping the children fed and clothed, paying the salaries of loving caregivers to act as stand-ins for their late parents and long-devoted foster mother, and making sure there is no lag-time in their life-saving medical treatment.
Haregewoin lived with these children seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for ten years. She is irreplaceable. The youngest children, of course, have no idea what has just happened. Please let us work together to act as foster parents in absentia for them and to provide financial sustenance to the adults on the ground in Addis during this transitional time. Thank you in advance for any amount you can give.
Online contributions can be made at https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2669/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=2749
Checks may be sent to:
WWO511 Valley Street
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040