This man is a 41 year old male patient that the caregiving team currently supports. He shared some of his story with us and he has a very positive outlook on life that has been enhanced through the care programme.
He lives like any other patient in very minimal surroundings in a breeze block hut with a tin roof with just two very small rooms in very poor light. The walls are dirty and depressing. Access to his property was difficult as it was good a walk from the car and down a steep rock face which would be quite dangerous in adverse conditions.
Maya has been caring for him for a number of months whilst he recovers from surgery to remove a lump from his groin but since he has developed an infection which has hampered his recovery. He is also HIV positive. It is not surprising he has developed an infection considering the unsanitary conditions he is living in and the limited medical equipment they have to treat patients with but without this service life would be impossible. The carers are very thorough and careful to avoid cross-contamination.
When he was diagnosed with HIV, his family disowned him; he was mocked by others in the community and felt an outcast. When his girlfriend found out she wanted nothing to do with him but he tried to persuade her to get an HIV test. She refused and later she got sick and died. He carries a lot of guilt about that. He felt very lonely and desperate but through God’s intervention he came into touch with the church and turned to God.
We spent time not only caring for him physically but also spiritually through prayer which he was so pleased about. I asked what a difference the care givers had made and he could not be thankful enough. He was also pleased that I was able to share some time with him and that God had sent me and that I had lifted his spirits. I visited him 3 times and he was looking so much better on the 3rd day when I last saw him and we prayed together.
My last morning in Embo was spent with Sister Joyce and Gertrude, a care giver who is now funded through the Health Authority. We were visiting patients who Joyce had not met before, in a distant part of the township.
Gertrude had assured the driver that there was a road to the area we were to visit, but as a non-driver, she had not appreciated that vehicles need more width. He dropped us off as the track narrowed and he was left to reverse up a steep dirt track, round a blind bend, and wait for us to call him to pick us up later. We set off up the steep narrow paths and tracks into the hillside community. The track was about nine inches wide and zigzagged steeply upwards. Gertrude and Joyce shared the heavy back pack as they climbed.
Our first call was to a home where fire had burnt out one of the two rooms, leaving only a metal bed frame and a melted TV in one room. The electricity had been reconnected and there was a mass of trailing cables dangling across the room. Here Joyce asked me to pray for the family. Fortunately no one had been hurt in the fire, but they were left with pitifully little; just two beds and a pile of clothes in one room. The household possessions had been thrown in a heap at the foot of the slope. I hope my prayer meant something to them.
We met a young man along the pathway whom Joyce recognised as a patient who had been receiving treatment for HIV. She knew he had not continued with his treatment, and discovered that he was now taking his partner’s drugs as he had not wanted to return to the clinic. This reluctance was due to the public castigation he received when he had returned later than scheduled for his drugs. He had felt humiliated and was reluctant to go back. Joyce asked for my comments and translated my reply. We urged him to return to the clinic, to ask for a private room in which to be seen. We also advised that it is never good to take drugs prescribed for someone else. Hopefully he will do this, for his partner’s sake as well as his own. He did appear to be listening to Joyce’s guidance.