“There are three ways to get AIDS: From your mom, from blood, and from unprotected sex. I got it from my mom,” said 12-year-old Farah, matter-of-factly—over the radio airwaves. Farah is an orphaned resident of The Rainbow House, an orphanage we support for AIDS affected children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. An only child, her mother died when she was 4. She is very open about her HIV positive status and was recently interviewed on a Haitian radio station for an awareness campaign.
In addition to providing shelter to 42 AIDS orphans and children who suffer from the disease, The Rainbow House has an innovative outreach program whose goal is to educate the community about AIDS. Their hope is to eliminate the negative stereotypes and unfounded fears that cause people to shun or mistreat children like Farah — the innocent victims of the AIDS pandemic.
The Rainbow House’s myth-busting community awareness program has won recognition by the United Nations as a “Best Practice” model for other organizations to emulate. For nearly a year we’ve been working with The Rainbow House and a few other partners, including Medishare and Espwa Orphanage, to roll out a similar approach on a larger scale throughout Haiti under a $4.8 million, three-year grant awarded to us under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In the meantime, the gift of life goes on for Farah and the other AIDS-affected orphans at The Rainbow House, where they find acceptance and encouragement, as well as the medicine, nutrition and care they need to live full, healthy lives.