If you are African, you can rely on your family.  In Africa, you know that your family is always there for you.  You’re part of a community much more than you are an individual.  You’re never left on your own.  Your parents, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters will always help you.

Until you get AIDS.  One of the most disorientating aspects of having this terrible illness is that many people find their family turn their backs on them.  It’s a situation unprecedented in African culture, but partly out of shame, partly out of fear, AIDS patients are often rejected by their families, sometimes just left to die in squalor in a corner of a yard.  They are often denied care, compassion, company, and even food.  Some families think that when food is short, why waste it on someone who’s going to die anyway?

Lifeline in Zambia works to motivate churches to meet this desperate need for community and to extend the love of Christ to those who are in dire need of a new family.  LIZ trains and equips teams of volunteers from across different denominations to support and care for those who have no hope left in this life.  They feed, clothe, bath, comfort and pray with the needy.  They arrange hospital visits and facilitate the delivery of medicines.  In six locations in different parts of Zambia, over 700 AIDS patients receive home-based care from 160 volunteers.

Many of the adults who have died of AIDS have left behind children.  With nobody to care for them, many of these now form child-headed households, or are fostered by grannies who no longer have the capacity to care for them.  These families too are supported by LIZ.  Provision of food and schooling, and mentoring for the older children caring for their younger siblings, are all part of LIZ’s ministry.

LIZ’s founder and chief executive, Lene Pedersen, will be on a short visit to the UK at the beginning of September.  If you would like to meet her, or attend one of the briefings she will be giving about the work of LIZ, please email info@syzygy.org.uk for further details.

For more information about Lifeline in Zambia, visit www.lifelineinzambia.dk