The pulse of Africa is felt in six-year-old Lebo. She carries a story of brokenness in her heart but fights back with a strong and resilient spirit. This is the tension that exists within Lebo and within Africa. Lebo's mother and father died of AIDS when she was only a baby, and left her with the same disease, which is slowly claiming her life. There is no access to affordable treatment for AIDS in her community.
Lebo lives, along with her brother, sister, and elderly grandparents, in the city of Likasi. They stay in a one-bedroom brick home that has neither electricity nor running water. Lebo’s grandfather worked in a copper mine for thirty years before being forced into mandatory retirement in 1995; he now stays at home most of the time and takes care of his wife, who is blind and requires assistance with basic tasks. Lebo and her thirteen-year-old sister spend the mornings gathering wood in the forest and the afternoons selling the wood at a nearby market. This is the family’s only source of income. They use this money to send Lebo’s ten-year-old brother to school and to buy enough food for the family to eat one meal every other day. Lebo and her sister would like to go to school, but the family cannot afford it, as they depend on the girls to earn money.
By no choice of her own Lebo has been given the labels: orphan, uneducated, starving, and dying. Lebo’s is a story that is uncomfortably characteristic of her community. And still, hope surfaces during a visit to her family. Lebo’s grandfather’s eyes shine as he looks at his grandchildren and listens as a care worker tells the children that Jesus loves them. The children receive three meals per week at the care point run within the community in addition to the meals provided at home. They know that Jesus loves them and they know they aren’t forgotten. It is not much but it is enough to hold the tension and it is enough hope for the moment to allow them to survive.
Lebo has lost her mother and father; she has been sentenced to a life of sickness with little hope of recovery; she is malnourished and cannot go to school. Lebo has few reasons to smile, and yet she does. This is the pulse of Africa.