I am touched at her faith in us, that we will do the right thing and care for her children when she is gone. Am I personally ready to have more children, when all my own four are already older teenagers? Should I search for adoptive parents? Or does caring “for”, mean “making sure they are safe, loved and educated?” Her visit raises the specter of an unknown future, children who will need love and care in a terrifying world.
It is not clear cut though. There is a husband involved; it is not just Rani on her own. He has a say. Nothing is straightforward. The best we can do for now is encourage the family to stay intact. The very best we can do is provide employment. We offer her a job making jewelry in Ruhamah. She is now positioned to be the family wage earner. She is weak and can only complete a tiny portion the other girls are able to complete in the workshop. But she is steadfast, and over the months of her pregnancy she strengthens and commits herself again to take the life-giving drugs she needs. Soon she gives birth to a healthy baby boy. He is given a large dose of antibiotics before and at birth. Six weeks later he is declared officially HIV free.
Our social workers find a Christian run boarding school for Shivani. She boards there nine months a year and joins her family during holidays. Rani manages to balance caring for her infant son and working for Ruhamah as part of the “Work At Home” project.
The family is still poverty stricken. While Rani can pay for food, her husband takes much of her earnings for alcohol, and his earnings are sporadic. We are glad Shivani is out of the house for the most part and surrounded by a stable environment where she can learn to read and write. The sordid realities of her home, the extreme poverty, her ill mother, and alcoholic father are not realities she has to face every day.
These are the realities we see every day walking alongside our rescued girls. Situations are far from perfect. We are mute witnesses of poverty that is pervasive and life-long because of lifestyle choices. We see our women allow men to take their earnings and drink them. And somehow we are a part of all of that. We are watching, paying her for earring production, refusing to give her money when she has given it all away to her husband, giving Shivani a stable environment, keeping track of the progression of Rani's disease, making arrangements for the foreseeable future, and the future of her children.
And it feels like the story should be happier. That they should not be poor and living in a hovel after working for Ruhamah. That Rani should not be facing death, that her children should not be motherless one day and that her husband should not be an alcoholic.
But then I would not be writing a real story, but a fairy tale.