We have known and loved you for almost three years now. When we met you you looked like this:
You started out in our child sponsorship program and we quickly knew you were really sick and needed help. We fed and tried to help you with your medicine the best we could even though you lived in such hard conditions. Your mother had died and your father was nowhere to be found. You lived with distant relatives that didn't really care for you. You came to school every day and never smiled, you were lethargic but hanging in there. After realizing that we couldn't help you enough and your disease was killing you we asked other's for help. We didn't have the Arise Home built yet and had to get you in a living situation that would help you more than we could at the school. We took you to Mother Teresa's orphanage that is run by Catholic nuns, you were scared and didn't want to go. I will never forget driving you to the home, taking you out of the compound and place you had only known your entire life. I was scared too for you, I knew what we were doing was the best for you but I was concerned. I had to get on an airplane the next day and fly back to America and I wasn't sure I would see you again Andrew, you were so so sick. I had tears in my eyes when we left Lusaka because I was worried. Luckily John was on the plane next to me reassuring me we have done everything we can to help you and that you were a fighter.
Mother Teresa's Orphanage graciously took you in and nursed you back to health. They fed you all the time and helped with your medication. You made great strides, you still were sick but much better. When we visited you were happy and enjoying yourself. In fact, sometimes you hid at Mother Teresa's when we showed up because you were scared we were there to take you back to your old life. They had promised us to help you until we could take you to live with us forever.
Finally the Arise Home was built and ready for YOU Andrew! We moved you in on December 17th, a day I will never forget. You were 15 and weighed 52 pounds and was as tall as a 7 year old in America.
We have learned so much about you these past few months as you live with us and became part of our family. You are neat and orderly and take care of your clothes. Your dresser is ALWAYS the cleanest and you can make a bed like a champ. You have patiently sat through hours and hours and hours of clinic visits with Megan and Lucy and Dailles as we continue to fight for your health. You take your medicine on time every evening and help manage it. You HATE the Ensure milkshakes we force you to drink but you do it. You are one SERIOUS Zambian Soccer Team fan. In fact you threatened to run away to watch the soccer game because we didn't have a TV but we didn't believe you would do it. We were wrong! There might be a bit of a stubborn streak in you :) You love school and work very hard at it. You are a really smart kid. You like to have water balloon fights and could play soccer in the back yard all day long. You don't like crowds and retreat when there are visitors that come to the home, that's OK! You have big dreams and one day you will reach them.
Andrew, every time you go to the clinic I call and text Megan and make her immediately tell me how you are progressing. You now weigh 68 pounds and you have grown 2 inches since December! All your levels are correct and your medicine is working! We are SO proud of you buddy!
Look at how handsome you are and great you look!
Look at the difference:
God blessed us with getting to love and have you in our family Andrew. We can't wait to see what a great man you grow up to be, but until then you are our's and under our roof! We love you and are SO SO proud of you! Megan and your house mammas work so hard for you and they deserve all the credit in this, well right behind God of course.
Alissa, and the rest of the Arise Africa Family