Canadian Reformed World Relief Fund
PO Box 85225, Burlington ON, L7R 4K4

Fall Update - Khothatsong - Home Based Care

Carers are very busy visiting current patients and promoting services to new patients. The weekly support sessions are attended by over 20 women. These sessions include devotions, exercise, crafts, and income-generating activities like making medicinal ointments, candles, and bead articles, tapestry, sewing clothes, and knitting. All products are sold in the community at a profit. Most of this income is used to buy material and stock, with the remainder being divided among the members. At the end of the sessions, leaders and participants all share a meal together. 

One of the biggest challenges that carers face is when patients stop their tuberculosis (TB) medication before the course is completed. This behaviour is often financially motivated. TB treatment courses usually take about 6 months. When the patients start with the treatment, they can apply for a disability grant, which will be given for 6 months. However, if they become sick again, they can reapply for the grant. In order to achieve that, they stop their medication prematurely. A major concern here is that the TB virus becomes resistant to treatment. This behaviour causes a lot of frustration for the carers, because no matter how much they educate, the patient must ultimately take responsibility for their own health. It also illustrates the dependence on social grants in South Africa; families usually depend on them to feed their entire family and not just to care for the patient. Another significant challenge is due to the ongoing turmoil experienced in South Africa, especially in rural areas. During recent months, there have been several occasions when the HBC coordinator had to turn back halfway, due to violence and unrest along the road.