everyONE: Focus on Economic Growth through Leadership Development at the Community Levels as an Effective Response to HIV and AIDS in Africa
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Picture of Elsa

Elsa's Story

When death knocks on Elsa's door, hope chased it away!
A year ago on January 7 in 2003, Elsa and Yene Assegid met during an Ethiopian Christmas Dinner offered by the Addis Ababa University, Institute Ethiopian Studies to over a hundred children and adolescent who had lost one or both parents to AIDS. This was January 7, the day of the Orthodox Christmas. It had been six years since Elsa had tested positive for HIV. She had been invited to speak as a person living with HIV at the moment. At the end of the dinner the two exchanged phone numbers and went on their way.

It is a few months later, that Elsa called Yene saying that she is now in bed, that the end is near. She called to ask if it would be all right to give her children Yene's cell phone number in case they needed someone to guide them after the death of their mother. Elsa was not breathing well, and made this phone call as a last resort.

Although the phone call was rather shocking, Yene told her that it would be okay to give the number, but could Elsa postpone her "anticipated death" for another year or two because, we needed her to work with us at everyONE which was not yet established. Today Elsa tells us that she did not expect such a reply and was a little dumbfounded by the request. She said she hung up the phone and told her children that she may be needed to help out a new organization and that who knows what comes, now.

Today, Elsa is in full health and kicking and leading a group of over a 100 community agents, children and elderly in Kolfe. Well, she must have then really postponed the end. Today Elsa's children are back in school, Elsa is going to work every day and life goes on! At the inauguration, Elsa told the whole house that she has postponed leaving this earth indefinitely.

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Picture of Fike

Fike's Story

I was born in 1964 in a place called Yerez Michael found in Gojam province, North West of Ethiopia. I was about ten years old when I became a leprosy patient. Thus, in 1974 I came to Addis Ababa to be treated at Zenebework Hospital. I was admitted to the hospital and started the medication for leprosy. The bacteria had affected the nerves of both my legs and hands, so I was obliged to take medication continuously for ten years and had to have surgery for not less than ten times. Since I had no one to support me, while I was in bed, I used to worry about what I would be doing for living when discharged from the hospital.

The moment I was discharged, I became a beggar for living and the sewers became my home. If I were not affected by the disease I would have become a farmer in the village I was born in. Then I would choose to live with my relatives, but, the people conceive the disease as a curse and inherited. So I was forced to stay in Addis and live a miserable life spending much of my life drinking.

In fear of the difficult life of being a victim of leprosy and begging, I choose not to involve myself in marriage. That is, I knew my children would face the life I was leading. In 1990, I met people who were religious and who taught me about the values of their religion. Afterwards, I started living by the norms and values of the religion reviving my hope for life. And, I started living with the help and support from them. Currently, I am employed by everyONE. I am building my hope for life further forgetting about all the difficulties I encountered.

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