Today makes a week that I've been here already. My luggage arrived yesterday, and I was thrilled. I'm sure Bill reads this, so I'd like to thank him for teaching me to pack a week's worth of clothes into my carry-on. It proved to be quite useful. But like I said, I was thrilled, and it carried on to today as well when I realized I had this huge bottle of shampoo and didn't have to ration it from a 2 oz. bottle anymore.
In our accommodations, volunteers and staff from around the world are housed as they work in the clinic. It's remarkable. Yesterday, there was a group of ten people from England, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands working with the Internet networking system. Now, there are five local women staying there who are taking classes on home-based care. My roommate, Kate, is a nurse from Switzerland who also came with OM. Also, Benjamin, a counselor at the clinic, stays there.
I spent the day at the children's ward in the clinic shadowing one of the doctors. It's only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, and they provide care for around 86 patients I believe. If I haven't mentioned it before, each patient that the clinic sees has already been confirmed as HIV positive. Tuberculosis is quite common in South Africa as an opportunistic disease in association with AIDS, so we also see many cases of it as well. So, almost each kid I saw today had AIDS along with TB. Some came in with their mothers while others with grandmothers or aunts.
As you can see, most of this post has been informative. This is because I'm still trying to gage my own reaction to everything I've seen these past few days. The Mexico mission trip helped to prepare me for the poverty that I would see. However, the extent of AIDS epidemic. ..there's just really no words to describe it. I'm just sitting here and watching the cursor blink because I don't know what to write to relate this.
The thing that gets to me is that here, this disease and its steep costs are everyday life.
I don't want to go down the path of describing death tolls, political problems within the country, insufficient funding and staff. . ..etc. because as Americans, we see that on commercials or on billboards. We're callused to hearing about far off places and problems and wars. So, while I do have countless things I've already seen and could say, you most likely wouldn't be able to remember what you've read because you've seen it dozens of times before. We hear about it or see it on the news. For the greater part of us, that's our everyday life.
Alive with hope.
That is the motto of ACTS and what I want to relate to you. Hope is such a powerful thing, and we only have hope through God. People here at the clinic work everyday to help bring hope to their patients. Inch by inch people battle with this disease. Some are winning, and others are losing. What stands out is when people get a grasp on hope and push their fear aside. For example, Benjamin was diagnosed with AIDS in 2004. He was unable to walk and his kidneys were failing along with his eyesight. We sat and watched TV yesterday, and he told us about wanting to help others see that there is hope of a life after the disease. He's got an incredible story, and I know I'm not doing it justice. But, those are the success stories and the ones you see working through the disease. In many ways, the basic lesson is applicable to our lives. Despite the incredible distance and surroundings, all some need is hope.
I'm so thankful that I am able to be a witness to it and help out here where I can.
Please continue to pray for the clinic and country as well. There may be a strike among the workers of the electric companies soon, so I might not be able to post for a week or two depending on how long it lasts. Thank you again for your prayers. God Bless.