written by theresa malila
I was thinking of the series 24 HOURS, this is what homebased care and recovery support reminds me of each day, I feel somewhat like Jack Bowers and caught between trying to beat the odds but find so much up against us !!!!
This has been one of the most difficult stories for me to write, as I continue to relive this particular home visit on Monday 15 June.
What disturbs us the most? Is it a situation when we are shaken and rocked by our own circumstances or the situation that God is shaking and rocking us to deal with? It has taken me almost two weeks to write the story of Roseta.
THIS IS THE STORY OF ROSETA ……… In the slum of Mgona, I visited Roseta on her sick bed. She is 27 years old, has five children and weighs 14kg, yes 14kg. Roseta is just skin and bones, her ribs stick out of her chest like knuckles and her breasts are just flat bags of dried skin. I walked into to her 2 x 2 meter room dimly lit by a slim ray of sunlight coming through a tiny crack in the roof. I hate the smell of death, yes death has a terrible smell in the slums of Mgona. But this smell also triggers what may seem and sound like a paradox – the hope in me – Christ!
ROSETA is a mother of 5, her eldest is 12 years old – Esther and her youngest is one month old, a boy named Sherif . When I spoke to Roseta she could not say a word, as I prayed for her and over her, all she could manage was a weak, squeaky and very soft amen. I was prompted to stay with her after the volunteers left the room, I told her Jesus had come to visit her and wanted to comfort and heal her. I asked her if she knew the master, she shook her head slightly to say no. I felt this river well up in me and started to pray in the spirit and thereafter prayed for her that she would accept the Christ as Lord and Saviour. She continued to whisper amen as I prayed. She followed the prayer with a few slurred words that were barely audible. I totally broke down as I continued to pray with her, I knew that the Lord had purposed for her to receive His great salvation and comfort. I knew that it was all God’s work because the circumstances were totally hopeless in the natural but I remained hopeful in the supernatural. This was one time that I felt absolutely taken up into the supernatural presence of the Spirit of God oblivious of where I was and what I was dealing with.
I WAS with a team from God’s Economy and I walked out of that one roomed run down shack, a completely broken person, God had brought me in that instance into a place of brokenness of spirit. I have never really broken down during home visits, this was one time when I was forced to openly acknowledge my helplessness and nothingness in full view of a visiting team and fellow workers (volunteers and caregivers), I have always been the strong one to encourage and urge them on in this battle, but one thing I knew there and then as I wept for this family, that the Holy Spirit in me was weeping over this helpless mother and her children and God’s heart was broken, this is when without a shadow of a doubt, I know the answer to what we are up against can only be found in the church of the Living God.
I TOOK baby Sherif and asked two of the visiting team members, Cricket and Ed to join me as the Holy Spirit prompted me to have the baby dedicated. Whilst raising the baby heavenward we prayed and dedicated him. I said my goodbyes with an assurance that I would be back soon. The mood was sombre as we then continued on our home visits.
DURING the night I could not sleep, I was reminded of Roseta and her five children. This is the endless battle that continues beyond the battlefield.
On Tuesday food supplies and a lamp were delivered to the family as the husband had deserted them and had not been home at all. Rosetta ‘s secondary caregiver (one of the recovery group volunteers – Regina) informed that they would be taking Rosetta to hospital as she would need to go for her ARVs. I arrived at Ngona at 0900 hours the next day, however, she had already been taken by her support group to the hospital. At the hospital the doctor who attended to her late afternoon, insisted she be admitted, however, the support group who had taken her did not have the authority to do so as they needed the husband’s permission so they returned with her to Ngona.
On Sunday I did not go to church, I spent my time in prayer for this dear family, later in the afternoon I decided to go back to the slum to visit the family again, I took with me clothing for the children, some dolls, formula for the baby and fortified meal for Roseta and her other 4 children. When I got there I spent time with Roseta and praised God for she was now speaking audibly although she could not sit up at all. The children were very excited with the clothes and dolls even her son Paul wanted a doll.
ROSETA began to tell me about her husband. She said she was tested whilst she was expectant, she went for testing pmtct – she was found to be HIV positive, she came home to tell her husband, and he refused to accept what she told him, she never went back to clinic, she gave birth and completely deteriorated and that is how she was found by our homebased care volunteer and recovery support volunteer, who took her to hospital where she was immediatel y put on ART as her CD4 count was very low. Her baby is a fighter, he has been trying to suckle her breasts to no avail.
ROSETA further told me that her husband is never at home and is always on a drinking spree of locally brewed gin in the slum – he told her he is just waiting for her to die. I told her she needs to fight the disease so she can recover and take care of her children. I spoke with the secondary carers for the need to take her to hospital as she would die if left in her state. We continue to pray for her.
ON MONDAY 21 June I woke up at 0100 hours in the morning and my thoughts were with Rosetta, I felt led to pray for her and her family. Later in the day I felt a strong urgency in my spirit to visit her although I was having a meeting with the recovery support group. When I got to her home, she was lying on her mat and all I could hear was this barren, helpless groaning cry forced out her pain. I knelt down to hear what she was trying to say, and heard this pitiful wimper “please take me to hospital – I don’t want to die….” . I decided mmediately to take responsibility for the situation and so we mobilized ourselves, I called for the driver who was delivering fortified meal to some of our centres to come to Ngona, this was at 1600 hours late afternoon. In the absence of any stretcher or wheelchair, one of the male recovery support volunteers lifted her up from her mat and carried her out of the house, it was a very sad sight to see, this 27 year old woman, looking like a ten year old – Regina her caregiver was assisted to strap Rosetta like a baby on her back and we walked all the way to the centre and laid her down in the store room whilst we waited for the truck to arrive at 1700 hours. Four of the volunteers including Katherine our homebased care coordinator lifted her onto the back of the truck and took her to hospital, she was hospitalized at 2000 hours . In the absence of a stretcher / wheel chair and ambulance/mobile clinic, this very gruesome and strenuous journey is one we take every time we have to get our critical patients to and from the hospital Currently our the pick up truck is off the road again as we are unable to service the vehicle which has broken down due to numerous such trips on extremely difficult terrain in the communities we serve.
ROSETTA was admitted after being checked at 2000 hrs. She was completely dehydrated due to extreme purging. One of her secondary caregivers ( HBC volunteer) is taking care of her in hospital cooking food for her, Ms Katherine and Ms Charmaine have been to see her every morning taking fresh clothing and food supplies including disposal napkins. Regina and her primary caregiver is taking care of the other children including baby until she is released from hospital.
As of today 29th June, Rosetta’s husband has not been to see her or the children. She has been on intravenous drips since she was admitted, the purging has not stopped and currently they are unable to use any veins in her arms or legs as it is impossible to find one and the drip has been administered through a vein in her neck. She manages to say very little.
MY PRAYER for Roseta is that she will recover and live to take care of her beautiful five children who are totally oblivious to the dire situation their mother is in and they find themselves in, it is my prayer that God will prevail in this situation, He is the God of the impossible.
ALUTA CONTINUA – THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES As I leave Rosetta in the care of our wonderful unsung heros (the volunteers), my next stop is Alice Jumas’ home. Alice is recovering and able to walk and take a bike to the hospital and get her ARVs, she is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, the same grace I believe He will provide for Roseta!!!!! PLEASE PRAY FOR ROSETA AND HER FAMILY.
What can I say….. If we discard the people who are dying from AIDS … then we can no longer be called the body of Christ --- the Church of the Living God, so we continue to stand and having done all … stand. (see photo shop of Rosetta and her journey) and so my appeal to those who “support a homebased care worker” is not to get weary of doing good, ……. Somebody Cares could not care and support mothers and children like Rosetta and her family without your help; as we continue to serve the dying and the sick through your generous giving and prayers. Your prayers and giving continue to make a difference in the lives of those we support in the slums and communities we serve. Homebased Care and Recovery Support has made tremendous strides - a year ago we used to experience 8 -10 deaths a week, now it has dropped to 2-3 a month with miraculous recovery due to support and care and fortified meal distributed to the sick and the many who have access to ARVS. God Bless and increase you as you continue to express your deep compassion in this world of real suffering!!!