2022 Site Visit
South Africa appears to have declined significantly since the last site visit in 2018. The South African Rand is very weak even compared to our somewhat weak Canadian dollar, making many things expensive for South Africans, particularly fuel. Along with increased prices there was increased unemployment, especially for youth and particularly black youth. Not surprisingly, increased unemployment has led to increased poverty, violence, thefts and concerns for safety and security. Not surprisingly, none of this has supported a reduction in racial tensions. It may have increased it.
In this context, the Home-Based Care project (HBC) is more needed than ever, not so much for support for HIV/AIDs as for people in stress because of health issues generally exacerbated by increased poverty and social decline. Andrina, the HBC supervisor suggested that only 40 of the 140 current patients are HIV positive. More of the clients are elderly, suffering from diabetes and complications related to stroke. Because of poverty there is more call for money to take a taxi (minibus) to the local clinic or hospital. There is also more need for emergency food relief. This is increasing the demand for produce from the community garden. It is good to see how productive it is, in part because of access to water onsite and because of the efforts of a number of community members. People who assist are provided with produce. As well as visiting the staff and community gardens, Konnie was able to go on four visits with Pastor John and carers Mmathapelo and Pauline. The first was a young man who was HIV positive and recovering from spinal tuberculosis. The other three were elderly: the first was a HIV positive diabetic with low blood pressure, the second was battling the debilitating consequences of a second stroke and the last was a stubborn elderly man who needed to go to the hospital for cancer treatments. In all four visits the carers checked blood pressure, medications and inquired about general circumstances. Pastor John read a scripture passage and prayed at the end of the visit.
The effects of the social and economic decline were not as evident at the Foster Care (FC) homes. More noticeable was the growth in the children; physically and otherwise. Eggy has her hands full with four teenagers in house #1 while Thoko appears to have integrated two youngsters, Orathile (4 yrs) and Tato (2 yrs) into house #2 along with Eric and Thabiso who are now 7 years old. It was nice to be able to chat with the SAVF social worker while Eggy put the finishing touches on her special birthday meal which the children enjoyed when they came home from school.
This HIV+ young man was struggling with lifestyle issues and spinal tuberculosis which had left him without any sensation in his legs, when the Kothatsong HB carers started visiting. Over the past two years they supported him to deal with his lifestyle issues and go through the treatment for his tuberculosis. They visit three times per week to care for his pressure wounds and check his medication and vitals. Pastor John provides spiritual care to him and his sister. Their mother died of AIDS a few years ago and they now live alone on a small government grant.
For more information, check out our video here: http://www.crwrf.ca/focus-area/hivaids-response.html