Karla was twelve when she began attending Youth Haven Camps. She, along with her mother and younger brother, were HIV positive. Like many of the campers, Karla was reserved and carried a deep sadness. As Karla became a regular at the camps, she began to embrace her new friends. It was exciting when a bubbly Karla called her Youth Haven mentor, Emily, to tell her about her upcoming high school graduation and the big party that would follow.
Unfortunately, the joy was short-lived. Two weeks after graduation, Karla’s mother passed away. Karla and her brother were left with a stack of overdue bills in their tiny apartment and no one to help. She reached out to Emily, who gathered staff and volunteers together for support. They raised funds to pay the bills and make funeral arrangements, then helped Karla connect to other family members so they would have a place to live. At Youth Haven the next summer, Karla wrote the letter below to help her grieve the loss of her mother. Today, Karla is enrolled in University of the District of Columbia and considering pursuit of early childhood education. She is still in contact with her LSS/NCA mentor.
Every summer, LSS/NCA takes dozens of children to Youth Haven summer camp where they are provided everything from pillows to swim suits. The camp offers a refuge for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Many of these children would otherwise not be able to go to summer camp not only because of cost but because these children often require guidance and and medical assistance that other camps are unable to provide. Youth Haven, as illustrated by Karla’s story, is a place where children form life long bonds and find support from peers and mentors in the most difficult of times. For more information about the Youth Haven program visit our website.