By Joaquim Baretto

I19_02.jpgKatherine contracted the AIDS virus via a blood transfusion during an operation about three years ago. Her husband, who was working abroad at the time, disbelieved her and promptly left her. An embittered Katherine was left to fend for herself and her young daughter Samantha.

When 32-year-old Katherine was told that she had entered the last stage of full-blown AIDS and probably only had a couple of weeks to live, she was devastated. Her first concern was her daughter’s future. Samantha lived in an orphanage, and to add insult to injury, Katherine received this traumatic news days before Samantha's birthday. Katherine's last wish was for us to visit Samantha on her birthday - a wish we were more than happy to fulfill.

We had met Katherine at the Care Home for Terminal Cases – a home that we were instrumental in setting up about a year ago. Whenever we stop by the Care Home, we bring along toys for the 6 children who live there with their AIDS-positive mothers.

One toy was a monkey that turned somersaults. We all know how much children enjoy new toys, but we were amazed at the excitement and laughter this little monkey brought to one little tyke, as the monkey somersaulted around the room making funny noises.

Katherine heard the clamor from her room, so asked what it was all about. We quickly arranged for Mr. Monkey to pay her a special visit, and as he did his antics across the floor, Katherine's haggard and sickness-strained face broke out into a beautiful smile.

I19_03.jpgThe next day Samantha and the 42 other orphans at the nearby orphanage had one terrific Birthday party! Not only did the city's most popular clown visit them, but also there were balloons, presents, and games for all, with extra love and attention lavished on our celebrant.

Katherine had become a regular attendee at our meetings for PLWA (People Living With AIDS), and the Lord had slowly healed her bitter heart as she learnt of His love. She enthusiastically sang hymns and participated in all our positive input activities. Samantha also attended these meetings at times, responding just as enthusiastically as her mother. The more they both learned about Jesus, the more their hearts became reconciled with their destiny.

The day after Samantha’s birthday, Katherine passed on. The photos from Samantha’s birthday party had been delivered to her, and she chose a couple of the best ones of her daughter and put them under her pillow. Hours later, she woke up on The Other Side, with firsthand knowledge that there’s no more AIDS or other diseases in Heaven!

And Samantha? Just before Katherine passed on, the Lord supplied a sponsor for her, an answer to her mom’s prayers, a mother’s last wish fulfilled.

Joaquim Baretto is a Project manager of Family Care Goa, a FCF Project in Goa, India.