By the time this blog entry is completed 15 people will become infected with HIV in South Africa. 1 out of every 5 people are believed to be HIV+ One thousand people die every day of AIDS. It is projected that there will be 18 million AIDS orphans in SA by 2010. Sobering statistics or what! This is one of the main reasons why we know God is calling us to be here in SA. Never mind swine flu! - we are living with a pandemic and it is true to say that if you aren't infected with HIV, then you will certainly be affected by it. Not only do we need to get real about our response as individuals, but also as a church. For this reason Paula and a couple of other women from the church are attending a Counselling in HIV/AIDS course all of this week. This is a big commitment in terms of work, time and finance, but we believe as a church that, like Jesus, we must care for the kind of people many would consider 'outcasts'. Please pray that the 3 women will gain so much from the course and will come away with a burning passion to inspire the rest of the church and maybe a clearer idea of how we can be of real practical help in Macassar. Please pray also for Paula as she considers how to use this increased knowledge alongside the practical work of home based care and for the potential of training others.
The course comes on the back of a very interesting fundraiser that Paula attended on behalf of a Christmas party for the children who attend our local anti-retroviral clinic. The organisers want to give the best party yet to over 300 kids in our local Nature Reserve. It was quite an 'amusing' evening as Paula mixed with the local 'private school mums' who are full of good intentions, but often don't have a clue. It's wonderful how God uses people for His work! She was stunned to hear of the new trend for many living with HIV. As the drug treatments have improved in recent years and many people are living healthily and well as a result, they are unfortunately having to stop receiving the disability grant that they used to get when they first became sick and were quite ill. Obviously, it is great news that people are becoming well and learning to live with the virus, but everything comes with a sting. Sadly, the nurses reported that many people are stopping treatment in order to receive the monthly grant again - their only means of income. Finding a job is hard enough, but finding a job after a long period out of work, and particularly with the stigma of HIV status, is well nigh impossible. Rather give up your treatment and head for an early grave in order to receive a meagre source of income! We are living in strange times but we hold on to the truth that though the "thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy, I (Jesus) came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abudance". (John 10:10).