No Matter Matters

Posted on February 24, 2011

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When we’re open to it, God creates opportunities for us to make a difference in the lives of others. I was fortunate enough to meet a woman after a business meeting last week who has done just that. Sara Gmitro is the HR Director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville. Sara shared a story that she thought would be great for Testimony & Tunes and when you read her story below, I believe you’ll agree.

In August, I went to Mozambique, Africa with seven other people from my church.  We went over to meet with our mission advocate that had been there since March and also to meet all of the volunteers with Vida Humana, a grass roots organization that cares and advocates for mothers, fathers, and children with AIDS, malaria, and cholera.  We didn’t go to build anything; Africa has plenty of cheap labor….and we didn’t go to teach them about Jesus….their faith was stronger than ours….rather, we went to develop relationships and carry what we learned back to others.  And so, I write this article.

The “activists” that volunteer for Vida Humana are each assigned patients that have HIV.  They escort their patient to the “survival of the fittest” pharmacy to get their medicine (or pick it up for them).  If they have a few tomatoes, they will bring them to their patients.  They might help out a bit at the patient’s clay hut if the patients can’t walk.  But mostly, they encourage the patients who have little hope….they pray with them and sing with them.

One activist is Rebecca, a 63 year old woman with HIV/AIDS, who speaks English and helped translate for us during our visit.  She was very sick with AIDS about six years ago, but somehow is “in remission” and takes medicine twice a day to prevent a reoccurrence.  One of her grandchildren that we met was a little seven year old boy named “No Matter”.  Yes, that was his name.  At first we thought, “Why didn’t they change his name?”  We had met another boy called “No Name” because the mother abandoned him at the hospital, and that is what the hospital put on the birth certificate.  When Rebecca’s daughter and husband couldn’t/wouldn’t care for the baby, Rebecca said, “No matter.  I will care for him.”  And so she has for the past seven years.

I knew when we left Mozambique, the day would come when we heard that one of our new friends had died.  We certainly met some patients with very weak voices and frail bodies.   Some of the activists were older.  Perhaps an adult that had made a bad choice or was ashamed to tell their spouse that they were HIV positive.  But Saturday, we got an email from our mission advocate that No Matter had died of AIDS.  Rebecca never left his bedside during his two week hospital stay.  Five truckloads of people traveled to the gravesite to bury this little boy…

A boy that had done nothing immoral or careless.  Just a little boy that had probably caught HIV from his mother – either at birth or from breast milk.  This is the face of HIV in Africa.

Vida Humana is working to not only care for the people infected with HIV, but also to encourage others to get tested before they get symptoms, erase the stigma of the disease so that family members can be honest before the virus is spread, and stress the importance of strong nuclear families with one husband and one wife.  If you would like to learn more about Vida Humana, go to www.bakerinafrica.org or check out the 11 minute Youtube video called “I am…Vida Humana” on the internet.  Rebecca is throughout the video and is the woman with the bicycle.

No Matter – you matter, and you have changed us all.

Sara Lepisto Gmitro

**Sara mentioned that when she got in the car the following morning, No Matter’s situation was weighing heavily on her heart. That’s when she turned on the radio and heard the song “No Matter What” by Kerrie Roberts. Think God was trying to let her know that No Matter was with Him and that everything was ok? I know I got chills when she told me this!


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Posted in: February 2011