The Face of AIDS
This face is tiny…very tiny. It is the face of an eight day old baby girl. She was named Cosette Hope by a young girl who once looked into that tiny face and cried. There was no one else who cared enough to name her.
Cosette was born to an HIV positive mother. Was her mother afraid? Poor? Ashamed? Perhaps she just didn't care.
We will never know, because just moments after Cosette’s birth, her mother unexpectedly and unbelievably jumped from the delivery table and fled from the hospital, leaving her tiny three pound daughter to die.
Premature, HIV positive and abandoned at birth, Cosette faced a battle.
Only a memory and a photo remain…and the young girl who cared enough to give Cosette a name still cries when she looks at that tiny, precious face.
There are streets in Cambodia lined with women. You are driving down one of them on your way into the city. Filthy wooden shacks with open doors fill block after block, and in the doorways, on plastic chairs, sit the women. They are, most of them, in their early 20’s. And though they may differ in hairstyles, clothing and facial features, there is one thing they do have in common.
Their heavily applied make up is a tell-tale sign that these are women for sale. Their full lips gleam with deep reds and bright pinks. You suppose they are meant to look beautiful, attractive and seductive, but the effect is instead harsh and garish. In another setting the look might be almost comical, evoking thoughts of heavy handed little girls playing with their mommy’s lipstick. In this setting the effect is only disturbing and sad.
As you travel down the road, you find yourself looking out the car window almost against your will. You glance at the faces of the young women and cannot imagine the darkness and despair that fill their lives. It is only 9 a.m. and already they are painted and waiting. Which do they dread more, you wonder: the first customer of the day…or no customers that day? They are trading life for life. You remember once reading about a young Cambodian prostitute who said almost casually, “If I do not work, I die now of starvation. If I do work, I will get AIDS and be dead within three years. I want to live three more years.”
You drive on, still looking out your window. Painted
ladies perched on chairs in open doorways. Is there any sight more disturbing?
Only one: an empty chair, a closed door. Another heart is breaking.
And this time, yours breaks, too.
Statistics may make an impact, but statistics can mislead, confuse or even lie. Statistics, even accurate ones, may give us facts and information. However, it is often single moments, single faces, that stay with us and tell us stories in ways numbers never could, stories that often change our lives and hearts.
Take a look with us at two Cambodian faces: The Face of AIDS and The Face of Prostitution. Come see what we see, and give a face to the numbers.
| COP's Home Page | Ministries | Cambodia | Orphans | Missionaries |
| COP History | Newsletter | Faith Statement | Donations | Contact Us |