Monday, May 14, 2007

HIV/AIDS Awareness/Education at Makholweni

The last two Saturday’s we had an organization called TASC to come out to the Makholweni CarePoint and Children’s Wellness Center to educate the community on HIV/AIDS and the importance of testing. We had about 45 people show up for the education. Twenty-five people stayed to be tested. Baylor also sent one of their nurses out to help us as well. Since we started too late in the day, we weren’t able to finish testing everyone, so we asked them to come back the next Saturday to be tested. Between the two Saturday’s, we had 32 come for testing, 14 were children, and 22 actually tested. If the parent’s tested negative, they wouldn’t test the children, unless there was some other reason that they thought they needed to be tested.

On the second Saturday, one whole family came, Dad, Mom and 6 kids. Dad and Mom both tested negative. We didn’t even have to ask, he came out of the room shouting, “negative,negative.” So the 6 children weren’t tested. They all seem to be relatively healthy, except for a little bit of malnourishment. The father is injured and can’t work, so they are having a very difficult time. Many times they don’t have food except what the kids get at the care point. We try to send home extra food with them each day so they will all have something to eat later. We gave them some Nutravit, which is a vitamin rich corn meal and some multivitamins to help out a bit. I was taking pictures of the kids while they were waiting on Mom and Dad. When I showed them the picture, they laughed and giggled! Then they said they wanted to sing a song for me. It was so cute! Each one sang a verse and danced, then they all sang together. It was in SiSwati, so I had no idea what they were saying. I asked the teacher, and she said that it was about HIV/AIDS, and how you need to be tested when you see yourself getting thin (losing weight).

Another mother who tested positive, wouldn’t allow her kids to be tested, much to our dismay. She said that she had to check with her partner. I pray that she will allow the children to be tested. We can take them all to Baylor to have them all tested and treated if necessary. We will have to try to talk to her and explain how important it is for them to be tested. She works for a factory, and she says that they will not let her have a day off. So it will be difficult to get her to come to Baylor , but her life, as well as her kids may depend on it. I pray that God will give us wisdom and grace in this situation.

We are hoping that Baylor will send a doctor to our Children’s Wellness Center once a month to dispense the medications for all of the kids that we are taking to Baylor on a weekly basis for AIDS treatment. We now have about 21 kids/care givers that we bring to Baylor. Abraham picks them up from their care points every Wednesday. Each of the 21 people have to go once a month to get a new supply of medication. This is a very important part of the work that God is allowing us to be a part of here. Again, it is a blessing to have this amazing opportunity to work with these precious Swazi people.

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