Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Escape (01/02/06)
TITLE: Siboniso's Tale
By Anita Neuman
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When our parents were alive, we were happy. They did not have enough money to buy us food every day, but they loved us very much. And we loved them. We wanted to work very hard and help them get some money so we could eat. I worked every day gathering wood from outside the village and selling it at the side of the road. Before Mother got sick, she would sometimes walk all the way to the city and do jobs for the rich people. Father did not work. He was sick for a very long time and he had no strength to do hard work. Our sister began walking to the city with Mother so they could get money to buy medicine. But the medicine did not help and Father died. Soon Mother became too weak to walk all the way to the city. We knew that she was very sick and she would also die.
We thought we were very lucky because Father’s family did not make us leave our house when he died. They even let us keep our blanket and pots. They would not talk to us anymore, but we sang praises to Jesus because we could still be together and Mother could rest inside our own house.
When Mother died, we came to live with our aunt. She is angry that she now has four more people to feed. Her husband does not come home very often, but sometimes he sends some money. She always uses the money to buy meat and milk for her own children, but we eat only beans and maize. If we ask for some of the milk, she hits us with a stick. Sometimes she hits us with a stick even if we do not ask for milk. She is very angry that we are here.
Our aunt has started to look thin and I know that she is sick now. Soon she will not have enough strength to hit us and yell at us. But then she will die and we will have no house to live in. Our aunt’s children will find another relative to take care of them, but they will not take us with them.
Our sister makes us pray every day and we sing praises to Jesus. Mother taught us that Jesus loves us and she told us about heaven. We know that Mother and Father are with Jesus and we pray to Him and ask Him to make our parents happy in heaven. Mother told us that everyone is sad without Jesus – even rich people. And Jesus can make everyone happy – even poor people. When I sing praises to Jesus, I am happy, but there is too much sadness around me. I would like to escape the sadness in this world. I am not afraid to die because that is the only way to escape here. I am afraid to live because I am not sick and I will live in this sadness for a very long time.
Author’s note: Although Siboniso is a fictional character, his is the story of millions of real-life children. The AIDS pandemic is running rampant across Africa, and still growing at a rate that is almost incomprehensible. My prayer is that this story will stir your heart and compel you to action. Please join the fight against AIDS. www.hopeforaids.org
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