The HIV Generation Grows Up
Dr. Rodica Matusa worked at the hospital where HIV-infected children were treated.
"We saw children dying," Matusa said, through a translator. "It was a new disease that we didn't know and of which we were afraid. All my friends, even my family except for my husband, were afraid to meet me to go out and eat or to do things we used to do together."
These two women not only tended to the physical needs of the hundreds of orphans in their care, they also formed deep bonds with each of them. Matusa describes each child waiting for her arrival in the morning, delighting in her presence, and giving and receiving love.
"The important thing was the connection with every individual child," Matusa said. "And even when the child died, I was more calm and didn't suffer so much because I knew I did everything for him. Whatever I had to do, I did."
In 1996, Matusa, Giuglea, and their colleagues in Romania gained access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and, suddenly, the mortality rate began to decline. AIDS became a chronic disease, not a death sentence. Giuglea said that God has surprised her by what she's learned from working with the children – now young adults – who received ARVs and who continue to thrive in Constanta.
"These children taught me life lessons about courage, hope and dignity," Giuglea said. "And my energy was continuously renewed by their desire to live and by their faith which helped them overcome all the obstacles. I find myself now transformed for having the privilege to work and grow together with these children, now young adults."
Giuglea's greatest challenge presently stems from the economic realties in Romania and across the globe. Support for World Vision's work has declined, and she asks that readers pray that they may continue their work with young adults living with HIV in Romania.
Kathleen Treat is After the Fall's executive producer, chairperson of World Vision's "Strong Women, Strong World" campaign, founder and president of The Speranza Foundation, and longtime World Vision supporter. She has been to Romania six times and spent as many years working on the film. She said that Giuglea and Matusa are her heroes.
"When I think of what they did, I think of the story of Esther," Treat said.
"They were put in those positions 'for such a time as this.' When these children started flooding into the medical system, they had no idea what was wrong. They were not allowed – because of Ceauşescu's regime – to talk to the outside world. Children were dying, all around them. They were used mightily where God had placed them and so many lives were saved because of it."