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Cecilia (centre) with her paternal grandparents Martha and Yohane. Photo credit: Bible Society / Clare Kendall

The Bible showed me I was loved

‘I used to think that God had abandoned me,’ says 17-year-old Cecilia Mwangatua. ‘Now I think that he loves me very much.’

Cecilia knows what it is to be abandoned by those who say they love you. Aged nine she was seriously ill from measles. Her parents – subsistence farmers in rural Tanzania – both gave blood to save her life. 

Cecilia’s grandparents shunned her, forcing her to live in a dimly-lit storeroom

It was a donation that will ultimately cost her life, as Cecilia’s parents were unknowingly living with HIV. When she was diagnosed HIV+ aged just 12, Cecilia’s grandparents shunned her, forcing her to live in a dimly-lit storeroom alone for three years. 

‘We thought that through eating and sharing a room with her we would be infected,’ says her grandfather, 73-year-old Yohane Mwangatua Ndahane. 

Good news 

Then two years’ ago, the family’s lives were turned around by Bible Society’s Good Samaritan project. Sitting under a tree in the village of Nala, Cecilia heard for the first time that God loved her, that she was unique and was taught ways to live with HIV. 

The Good Samaritan project teaches the medical basics of HIV, ridding families of superstitions. Through the biblical story of the Good Samaritan, which communities bring to life using drama, people learn about helping those in need and compassion. This is vital in rebuilding communities and families riven by fear, families like Cecilia's. 

‘I used to pray that someone would come and talk to my people and help them to understand me,’ Cecilia says. ‘Now we eat together and sleep together. I am happy that the family are all united. It helps me to forget about my parents’ death and my own status.’

‘I used to think that God had abandoned me,’ says 17-year-old Cecilia Mwangatua. ‘Now I think that he loves me very much.’

Pray with us for Cecilia and families like her using our interactive prayer tree

Author: Hazel Southam, 13 June 2016 (Last updated: 27 July 2016)

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