Centralizing some of our work2011 enabled us to really put our new buildings to use which were completed at the end of the previous year. With a generous donation of a solar power system - our donated desks, chairs and a computer and printer were plugged in and put to work. We also added Vusi, our part-time admin assistant/data-capturer to help us with the making copies, and database entry and filing required for improving our care and for reports to our funders. He has been a tremendous help in the office!
In November 2011, with the insertion of funding from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, many of our caregivers, heretofore always volunteers, started to receive small stipends to support their work. While our number of caregivers had stayed about the same (26 currently), the our number of home-based care patients has increased from 80 to 280 and the number of orphaned and vulnerable children from about 15 families per month, to 90 children monthly in their homes, and an additional 40 in the soup kitchen project. All this growth, with a slightly increased professional staff (part-time volunteer nurse and part-time pastor) and yet we haven’t had the funding to add another vehicle to increase the number of people we can see in their homes. Centralizing our care so that we could seeing as many clients as possible (those well enough to come to us) in our offices has became paramount to our being able to provide good care. We now host a Wellness Day nearly every Wednesday where our volunteer nurse (Jules), social auxiliary worker (Xoli) and pastor (formerly Phillip, now Challom – a YWAM missionary from Nigeria) come together to provide professional care to our patients needing support. We see cases of our patients who have every symptom of TB, but have been sent home from the clinic without further investigation, diagnosis or treatment (-> refer to the hospital clinic for query TB and an X-Ray).
(TB remains the number one killer of people with HIV – the bulk of our patients, so we are vigilant about this.) We also had two sick boys whose TB was not improving after months of treatment (-> query bad adherence or drug-resistant TB), one of them whose HIV status was unknown (-> speak with his aunt about importance of re-testing him and send the caregiver to accompany them to clinic). The mother of another patient in her forties couldn’t understand why her child continued to deteriorate, despite the medicines she had been given at the clinic. (-> Explain her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease as written on her clinic card.) And social and spiritual problems galore – from domestic abuse to in-law feuds to husbands who refuse to go for an HIV test even after the wife has started ARV treatment. Each Wellness Day starts with a Biblical devotion and opportunities for each patient to receive prayer and counselling, at their choice. Many seek this out and we have had some make commitments to Christ through this. The great thing about our Wellness Days is that we can see many of our patients (sometimes as many as 15-18), and provide them holistic individual care in one day without needing an extra car.
We also continue to do home visits to all our orphaned and vulnerable children, as well as our patients who are so sick or immobilized by stroke or other ailment that they are bedridden.
Soup KitchenThe funding we received from Breadline Africa to start a soup kitchen for feeding orphaned and vulnerable children has been a big help to us. Without all the bells and whistles of other big-time funders, Breadline Africa has been a funder that has allowed us to really focus on doing quality work with the soup kitchen children we have taken into our program, instead of focusing heavily on the paperwork, record keeping and database entry. We have received another year of funding with a significant increase to support our general operating costs, as well as to add a small expansion of our soup kitchen project to our most remote area –Slimangamehlo village at the top of the Injesuthi valley. We will be feeding thirty-five orphaned and vulnerable children at our Mandabeni offices each week, as well as an additional twenty in a hut granted for our use by a generous community member.
Our relationship with the Hospice and Palliative Care Association (HPCA) of South Africa has also strengthened in the past year and we received funding this past year to buy some Play Therapy equipment and toys to support our soup kitchen project. This has been a tremendous joy to the children. Over the Christmas holidays, we also received a donated jungle gym from a Rotary friend which is filled with joyful children each afternoon.
Volunteers & OutreachWe have been very blessed lately by the visits of some volunteers. The first group was a small group from YWAM who came to do outreach to us and our community, sleeping on the floor of our building for a week. They did beautiful work on our garden and shared God’s love with many of our patients and! Just today we met our new Peace Corps Volunteer, Kristen from New Mexico, who we look forward to working with for the next two years. We are also in the midst of planning a nine day outreach by another, much larger YWAM outreach team who will come to share God’s love with our community in mid April. We are very happy to have their involvement and support and strengthen our Christian impact!
God has really been good to us! Please join us in celebrating the people we have been able to share love and hope with through our growth.
A BIG thank you to all of you who, through your support of me personally, make so much of Thembalethu possible. God bless you for your generosity!