The Gathering Place

Dr. Barry Badger and Bob Lewis pray with people in Kenya.

On Easter, Bob Lewis and Dr. Barry Badger walked through Nyalenda, a slum suburb of Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya.

The slum is overcrowded and illness, especially from bilharzia, a parasitic disease also known as “snail fever,” is pervasive.

But Lewis was there for another reason. He heads The Gathering Place, 2394 New Holland Pike, a ministry to people infected and affected with the HIV virus. He met with members of The Maisha Project to see how his organization could aid a city where 30 percent of the residents have HIV/AIDS.

The slum, he said, “is the size of Leola but houses a million people.”

His goal, he said, is to “train people to do what we do here” (in Lancaster County). That is essentially providing support and performing case management — identifying people’s needs and finding ways to improve the quality of life for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS through physical, spiritual, educational and emotional care and support.

On Thursday, The Gathering Place will host an “Emerging Grace” dinner at Calvary Church, 1051 Landis Valley Road, to raise funds to send a team to Nyalenda to train people to meet the needs of the HIV/AIDS population.

One A-Chord Choir, Ruth Cottom West and the Maisha children’s choir from Kenya will perform.

Speakers will include Lewis; Beatrice Williamson, founder and executive director of the Maisha Project, Kenya; and Lisa Obert Beard, board co-chair of The Maisha Project, Kenya

Lewis said the United States offers aid to HIV/AIDS victims around the world through PEPFAR — the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — but little if any of that money reaches the people of Nyalenda.

He said his plan is to train five people in Kenya who, in turn, will train five other people to help meet the basic needs of people living in Nyalenda.

“We identify their basic health needs and prioritize them,” then put them in touch with agencies that can help.

Lewis said that for $6, a Kenyan can obtain a monthly Kenyan government medical insurance card. For $26, donors can get food as well as a medical insurance card.

Tickets for the dinner are $30 per person. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information, call 295-4630.

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