Taking a break from Netanyahu’s African diplomatic marathon last week, reporters slipped away to visit Addis Ababa’s AHOPE for Children supported by Hadassah and the Israeli Embassy

By Raphael Ahren (The Times of Israel) |

Addis Ababa—At first, Kalkidan Tesfaye ignored the foreign visitors and just continued chatting with her two girlfriends. But a few minutes later, without even being introduced to the group of Israeli journalists who suddenly showed up, she opened up.

“I knew I had HIV when I was six years old,” she said in remarkably good English. At that time, a decade ago, Tesfaye did not really understand the implications of that. Today she knows exactly what it means to carry the dangerous virus, but she has decided not to let it stand in her way. “Now I am a free woman. I live life, like everyone,” she said, standing next to an ambulance that looked like it was taken from a 1970s movie.

Tesfaye, who said she wanted to be a psychologist when she grew up, is one of 30 orphans who are HIV-positive and receive various social and medical services at AHOPE for Children’s Ethiopia branch. Tucked away in a small, barbed-wired compound on Mekanissa Road, near the embassies of the Vatican and the United Arab Emirates, this center provides the children, most of whom lost both parents, with a warm home and professional psycho-social support.

Most importantly, though, the center makes sure the children who live here take the anti-retroviral drugs they are required to take daily. The children’s pills — so-called cocktails — are stowed in a large light-blue closet with glass windows, located in the center’s main office.

“Some of them take it once a day, some of them take it twice a day, depending on the type of medication they take,” said Mengesha Shibru, the center’s director. “They take it for the rest of their lives.”

Continue reading this story on The Times of Israel
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