Sebastian's father had passed away several years before my first trip to Zimbabwe. When I met Sebastian and his mom in 2006, there were many children in the household.
I knew Sebastian's mom as MaSeba, a rough translation of "Sebastian's Mom." It is common in many African countries for mothers to be called or known by their children. I believe that this is a name she took on proudly. Not only did she mother her own children lovingly and proudly, but also mothered orphaned nieces and nephews with the same love.
Sebastian was a recipient of one of the homes we built, as he was the oldest child in the large family that was squeezing into a small one room home.
Along with Sebastian, the home belongs to his siblings, Gertrude and David.
My first day back in Zimbabwe I learned that MaSeba had passed away.
I was shocked.
I knew that she was HIV +, but every second I knew her she seemed strong and resilient. In a photo album I created in 2007 I had labeled her photo as "A Portrait of Strength." That is how I saw her, and in my heart I wanted to believe that if anyone could beat the disease, it would be her.
|Portrait of Strength|
Immediately after the shock I felt sadness. Sadness for the kids. Then worry. Who was caring for them now?
I discovered that Sebastian's aunt had taken his sister, Gertrude, as well as the cousins to live with her in the village.
|Sebastian, Sebastian's aunt/Ruthie's grandma, and Ruthie|
I was able to meet with her, and although I was not able to see the kids, I was able to send clothing and food with her back to the village for Christmas.
Now Sebastian and his brother David are living in the home. Sebastian is now 17, and David is 9.
They are both going to school, and Sebastian is very healthy. Sadly, as you can see, David's growth has been stunted. This is common in children who are born HIV+.
David is on ARVs, as well as vitamins that I brought for him. Although vitamins seem like a simple thing, I have seen them make a huge difference in many people struggling with the disease, so I am praying that it will boost David's immunity and make a positive impact on his health as well.
For a child who has faced so much loss and responsibility in his short life, Sebastian has shown remarkable strength and joy.
He is like his mother.
I ask that you would remember this family in prayer. Pray for Sebastian as he is a mother and father to his brother. And pray for David, that God would strengthen his frame and that he would live a life of quality and quantity.