by Rynn

“We have one special girl named Shradha,” Dr. Levita Edwards said, in precise English. “She is deaf. She is also HIV positive.”

I was immediately curious–I wanted to meet this one.

We were at an orphanage for children who either have AIDS or are orphaned because of AIDS. We walked into the dining hall. To my surprise, all the children sat on the floor perfectly still, in neat lines. Their brown faces and bright clothing glowed in the morning light that flowed in off the white patio.

I looked intently at the kids, wondering which was the 'special' girl. A bright purple bandana stood out to me. Two enormous eyes stared at Jen's colorful punjabi and then met my gaze. The owner of the purple bandana was Shradha.

It usually takes me a long time to become deeply connected with someone, but as I spent that afternoon coloring with Shradha and learning sign language, I felt an instant connection with her.

Shradha is nine years old. She has shortly cropped hair which she covers with a bandana to cover the scabs and sores on her head. She always draws the same picture, whether on paper or with chalk on the patio: mountains with two smiling suns, trees, a house, and flowers.

Shradha is mostly solemn, until you tickle her. When she laughs it sounds like soft breaths and then she begins to giggle aloud. It's a perfect laugh! She and I spent hours together, snuggling quietly and watching the other children run around. We also played hand-clapping games.

For three days I was able to play with Shradha. She couldn't hear me, but I whispered many prayers over her head. She was like my own little angel. Whenever I felt sad, she would come tug on my hand and smile, melting my heart.

We said goodbye with a long hug, our foreheads pressed together. “I love you little one,” I whispered, even though she couldn't hear me. “I'll miss you. I promise to pray for you.”

“Rynn, we have to go!” Paul called.
Regretfully, I set her down, kissed the top of her head and walked away. Areli took my arm as we approached the gate.

“Oh, I'll miss them,” Areli sighed.

I turned to give one last wave. Shradha held up her hand and signed to me. “I love you.”

It breaks my heart to remember that Shradha is HIV positive. There is too much beauty in her, too much life! But my God heals—I know it. I believe that He can heal Shradha. Please join my prayers for this girl.