Paula joined the home based care team as usual yesterday for a morning of visiting our 10 'patients'. This is always a special time and yet can be full of frustration. One man has recently had a second stroke and has been discharged from hospital after just 5 days. He is now bedridden and incontinent and his sister-in-law has had to give up work (the only family income) to care for him. There will be no visits from a health-care professional - he has simply been left to get on with it. The care team visit him 3 or 4 times a week to ease the burden, but it is clear that this is not enough. This is going to be a typical situation for the team. On the other side, 3 other men we visit are doing very well, taking their medication and getting stronger. We had excellent times of prayer and reading the Bible with them. However, as the men gain strength, they realise how bored they are without work. This is another big social problem we are up against. It is hard to encourage people when their self-esteem is at an all time low. We give thanks for the testimony of another patient who gave up drinking and smoking 3 months ago and now feels (and looks) like a new man! His witness in the community is huge and this is exactly what we have been praying for. However, he has throat cancer and every day is a constant battle. Our final visit was the most frustrating. I hadn't seen the person for 3 weeks and could not believe how much weight he had lost. He is very weak and is clearly in the final stages of AIDS. I felt angry that he is another victim of the system - now too weak to get to the clinic to obtain a letter which will give him access to hospital testing and then, hopefully to life-extending ARV treatment. Being faced with people who are purely victims of poverty is a real struggle for me. How many of us would simply sit back and let ourselves be walked all over when we knew that there is help out there if we could just access it? Paula is now liaising with our personal GP who happens to be in charge of the local ARV clinic, to see if there isn't any way we can help this man. It is sad though that it so often comes down to a fight and only the odd individual gains. How we are praying for better facilities and access for the poor to health care.
I continue to be thrilled by the dedication, commitment and levels of care given by the ladies in the home based care team. We have called ourselves HOPE - (Hands On, Prayer and Evangelism) as we feel this encapsulates our heart and what we are trying to do. I am now asking a friend to come up with a design so that we can make head scarfs for the ladies with our name and logo on.