10 Years Later and I’m Still Here

Has somebody or something influenced your life so greatly that you still think about it today? Did you return just to say thank you? Maybe try finding your hero on the web? Imagine an experience so great that a decade later you dedicate your life doing for others what was once done for you. This is Marti’s story…

Marti was a spunky 9-year-old girl when she attended Youth Haven Camp. She, like many other children who come to camp, had a hard time opening up to others about the anxiety and stress she experienced living with HIV. She was told about her and her mother’s condition at a very young age and constantly feared not only getting sick herself, but losing her mother to the illness as well.

Being treated like a “normal” kid, going swimming and hiking, and roasting marshmallows, helped Marti develop relationships with her counselors and peers. She enjoyed the unique bonding experiences that made Youth Haven Camp her home away from home. She finally found others who she could talk to without fearing rejection. And she knew that without Youth Haven, she would not be able to attend any camp nor would she have been able to develop connections with mentors that helped her plan and dream about her future.

Ten years later, Marti has returned as a student nurse and volunteers in the camp health center where she affectionately aids children in treating cuts and bruises. Today, Marti reaches out with that same big smile she had as a little girl as she works with children coping with the health challenges she has had to learn to manage herself.

Over 70 low income children and families affected by HIV/AIDS attend Youth Haven Camps each year. All the expenses of camp are provided–everything from swim trunks to counselors to ensure a real camp experience. If you or a family you know may benefit from the LSS/NCA Youth Haven program, or if you would like more information, please contact Dara Yah’Ya  at yahyad@lssnca.org


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