'Alafia', meaning 'peace' or 'good health' in many of the vernacular languages in northern Benin, exists to bring God’s love and hope to people living with HIV and AIDS. Based at the UEEB ('Union des Eglises Evangélique du Bénin') Evangelical Hospital in Bembereke (HEB), the ministry is the joint vision of Martha Koetsier, an SIM nurse, and Boniface Sacca, a Beninese nurse.
The 'Alafia' project provides follow-up care to AIDS patients in their homes, which includes the use of anti-retroviral drugs. This is being achieved through the work of the trained National AIDS Co-ordinator, Boniface Sacca, who is also responsible for the training of volunteers in the villages and providing AIDS prevention education.
Compassionate Home Care
Besides administering medical care, UEEB Pastor Jean Sidi, Martha, Boniface and other trained church volunteers regularly visit homes in the many surrounding villages and towns, bringing reality to the words in Romans 10:15 "how beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news.".
On a recent visit to T's home, Boniface was welcomed by her 6 children, who look forward to the monthly visit. Boniface gave T the tablets she would need for the next month, and then pastor Jean gave a short meditation about God's love, singing a chorus in Bariba while bouncing one of the children on his knee. T's mother quietly listened, standing in the doorway. Both she and T are Muslims, but they welcome the help that they are receiving in Jesus' name.
Sometimes home-care visitors encounter sad and discouraging situations. Like Jesus, they show compassion and extend hope in the face of despair, stigma, and abuse, and, from time to time, they see redemption and hope as they did in Zina's story.