By Letis Hernandez Cruz, monitoring and evaluation coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse HIV/AIDS programs in Honduras
A part of our response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is constructing homes for people living with the virus, and for vulnerable women and orphans who are affected by it. At our planning meeting last month, program director Aida Fajardo thanked Don Manuel, our contractor, for his dedication and the quality of his work.
Don Manuel gave thanks to God for all that he learned about HIV and the opportunity to serve these people. As Don Manuel continued talking, he said that God did a great miracle in his life. His story caught my attention.
“I heard them talking about their cards and a hospital,” he said. “But I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I was so sorry to see their living conditions that I did more than I was contracted to do using my own funds.
“I drank their water and ate their food because they were very generous to me. It was almost four months until I realized that the people I was helping had HIV.”
The revelation was shocking. Don Manuel admitted he once fired an employee after discovering he was HIV-positive out of fear of the disease.
“He needed the work, but I fired him because of my strong fear that my sons or I could become infected,” Don Manuel said. “I later felt terror and dread because I was lying. I did not consider his need or suffering. I continued being insensitive until God brought me to work for Samaritan´s Purse.”
A Samaritan’s Purse staff member explained how HIV is transmitted, and about the nature of the disease. Don Manuel’s fear began to turn into sympathy.
“That helped clear my mind and my heart,” he said. “I know that God changed me, because what I do now is out of love. I want to help, and I have compassion for the children as I see so many single women in this condition. As a Christian, I want to be sure that I don´t discriminate against anyone because of their status!”
I was moved by the transformation I saw in Don Manuel. The guy who once fired and rejected a worker with HIV cried when he said, “Now I feel love for them.”