The subject line of the email was “sad news”, and my heart broke, because I knew what those words meant, I went ahead and clicked on the email…her name was Lilly, she was 16 years old, and she had just died of AIDS.  How could that be?   Her smile was gorgeously white and bright, it was contagious, and she was gone, never to smile again.  I cried for her, I cried for the world, and I cried for all the children with this disease.

How did this happen?  She was 16 years old with a bright future ahead of her.  Why was this happening?  Why were innocent children dying from AIDS, why weren’t we putting a STOP to it, yes, the rate of children infected with HIV has decreased over the years, but it hasn’t ENDED.  Why?

Why do women and children continue to die of AIDS, what is the root cause of this disease?

I kept asking this question over and over again to others and to myself.  A few months after Lilly passed away, I was sitting in a learning session at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit, and the Why hit me…SHAME.  Shame was the reason why women were not getting tested for HIV, shame is why Lilly had died.  Shame is the root of HIV.

In Africa, for example there is a societal shame with a woman infected with HIV.  This results in the girls and women not getting tested until they are pregnant or on their death bed – when it is too late. They don’t get tested because they are afraid of being ostracized, not accepted.

Shame, guilt, and fear are the underground poison of so much suffering in this world.  Combine shame, with guilt and fear – and you have a trio of orphan makers.  At Esther Be, we gather women to lead their generations out of exile by sharing our stories of shame, guilt, and fear in hopes of saying, NO MORE.  Sharing our stories, allows us to embrace who God made us to BE.