By now you may have learned the shocking news that
Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra has died suddenly after a short illness.
We don't know what caused her death; she felt sick for a couple of days,
went to the doctor, came home without a diagnosis, felt sick again,
laid down, and that was the end.
We are grieving, yet we have no time to spare: 59 children survive her,
many of them toddlers and babies, the majority HIV-positive.
Worldwide Orphans--the New York-based organization that has provided
pediatric care to Haregewoin's children for many years--has stepped into the breach.
They have assumed full custody of the 42 HIV-positive kids and are prepared
to take responsibility for the 17 HIV-negative children, as needed, most of them
babies and toddlers. Those small children are still at Haregewoin's foster home;
their caregivers have stayed on; and the Atetegeb board has taken charge of
their well-being for the present.
These heroic measures come at high cost: it is estimated to require
about $4,600 per child to cover food, healthcare and medicine, education,
clothing, and caregivers. Once the children's basic needs are secure, their
paperwork will be sorted out: some may be eligible for adoption, others may have extended families in a position to take them in; others may find new placements.
No one knows, at this moment, whether Haregewoin had made financial plans
for the children in the event of her death. All that can be sorted out in the future.
The crisis is NOW: keeping the children fed and clothed, paying the salaries of
loving caregivers to act as stand-ins for their late parents and long-devoted foster
mother, and making sure there is no lag-time in their life-saving medical treatment.