On this day last year we sent out a message entitled 'Love in the times of Aids', one of our most successful communications in terms of response, messages of solidarity and subsequent financial support.
We spoke and continue to speak about the devastating effects of HIV and Aids that we see daily at Hotel Hope Ministries.
In the past 365 days not much has changed, only the numbers got and continue to get bigger - we have now cared for 56 children as if they were our own, have found adoptive families for 38, among them 7 who were HIV infected. 5 now live in Holland, one in Norway and another one in Sweden. We currently have 2 HIV+ children in our care and the unsung heroes, our care givers, the wonderful Aunties to our children, work tirelessly to give medication on time, spend countless hours with them in hospitals and doctor's rooms, sterilise equipment, restore and strengthen immunity, love and nurture and encourage.
Our 'Teenage Crisis Pregnancy' programme has cared for more than 4,000 young girls and women in unexpected, overwhelming and often unwanted pregnancy situations.
And of course every pregnancy is a potential HIV infection. For many of our mothers this has become a tragic and harrowing reality. Sometimes through rape, sometimes through incest, sometimes during the first and only sexual encounter, more often because the economic hardship of entire families without employment necessitate that a young family member enters into transactional sexual activity to bring the dinner on the table. Every day.
Most of our mothers come from single parent households, their self-esteem is minimal and their knowledge of a functioning relationship non-existent. Negotiating 'safe sex' or practicing abstinence is near impossible.
We shed a lot of tears with our friends when the test results come back positive. As their heart breaks, so break ours. And our messages are always filled with hope and acceptance, knowing that we serve a God of 1st, 2nd and many more chances, a God who has plans to prosper and not to harm, to give us a future and a hope.
We are often the only ones who they feel safe enough with to discuss their situation. Our advise is always life affirming and geared towards protecting the unborn life and potential partners from HIV transmission.
This year's letter is entitled: 'No one deliberately contracts HIV'. We hope that the response is equally positive as it was last year.
Thank you so much for being part of the Hotel Hope family. It is such a privilege to partner with you.
Our resources, physically, emotionally and financially are stretched to the limit.
Please would you consider even more whole-heartedly than before to help us care for HIV positive infants and adults?
If you are a PAYPAL user, please donate by using firstname.lastname@example.org as the beneficiary.
Alternatively, please make a transfer into our South African Bank Account (tax deductible):
Hotel Hope - First Rand Bank t/a FNB - Account 6219 400 3382 - Branch 256 505 (Melville) - SWIFT Code FIRNZAJJ
Donors from the UK can give tax-free via www.stewardship.org.uk
Please also visit our website www.hotelhopeministries.org and view our youtube clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z76a0pIgYmQ
Thank you again - please stand with us in prayer that we see a return to family values and both a cure and a vaccine for this most devastating disease.
Love and very best wishes,
Oliver, team, kids and mums.