A large crowd of about 70 patients attended, which represents more than half of all our patients on treatment.
Father Gérard welcomed to amazingly large crowd who had accepted our open invitation to come to the hospice to celebrate that through their successful antiretroviral treatment they proof that AIDS is not a death sentence, but a challenge and an invitation to live their life to the fullest and rejoice in it.
Father Gérard expressed his profound gratitude to all in our HAART Programme and especially those, who have made it possible:
the patients for their trust,
the treatment supporters for their assistance,
our past doctors in the HAART Programme (Dr. Shembe, Dr. Gabela, Dr. Nkabinde and Dr. Mdletshe) and announced that Dr. Siluma started today as the new doctor in our Care Centre,
our Medical Superintendent Dr. Thabethe, who always helped out, when there was a need,
our Registered Professional Nurse Sr. Liz Coetzer,
our Therapeutic Counsellor Qinisani Wiseman Zulu and announced that Patrick Dube has joined him now in his task as a therapeutic counsellor to do the adherence monitoring home visits,
our Therapeutic Counsellor Sthembile Masuku, who assisted Sr. Liz in her tasks and announced that Therapeutic Counsellor Xolile Nxumalo has joined her now in her tasks to be able to take over from her, when she goes to nursing school in February 2008,
the government of the United States of America and their President's Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa (PEPFAR), which is our main sponsor in the HAART programme,
the Catholic Relief Services Consortium (CRS), which administers the PEPFAR funds and is responsible for monitoring and evaluation,
the AIDS desk of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of South Africa, which liaises between us and CRS,
all other donors and
all other staff and volunteers involved in the programme.
Father invited the patients to spread the word that we would love to provide our services to many more people, who are in the need of it and announced that we would soon start our own Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) service.
He also introduced our HAART patients to the idea to invite those of them who are interested to be trained as peer counsellors. Then they could become involved in supportive home visits to encourage each other to adhere to the treatment, which absolutely vital for the long term success.
Father also informed the patients that we would love to establish support groups where patients can meet on a voluntary basis to get together, talk about common concerns, give each other advice how to cope the best and support one another in many different ways.
We got very positive and encouraging spontaneous reactions to these suggestions.
Then he asked the patient amongst the crowd, who had been on antiretroviral treatment for the longest time to light a candle with the AIDS-ribbon round it in commemoration of all the people who lost their lives through AIDS and we sang a Zulu hymn of remembrance.
Following this we all enjoyed a healthy and wholesome meal from our Care Centre kitchen.
Our therapeutic counsellor Mr Qinisani Wiseman Zulu, who makes our adherence monitoring home visits, spoke to our patients and encouraged them to engage in our new ideas of peer counsellors and support groups.
One of the patients nominated herself the speaker of all of them and thanked us in moving words for all the work that we put into the HAART programme to make it such a tremendous success. When the whole crowd started chanting and signing and swinging and dancing in jubilation Father Gérard could not stop his tears of joy looking into a crowd of happy and strong people, full of energy and vitality, celebrating their saved lives and knowing that they would all be dead if it was not for the treatment we are proud to provide.
Reverend Victor R Nxumalo - a treatment supporter of an AIDS-patient - wrote this letter to us and asked us to publish it wherever we want:
"I am greeting all leaders of this programme.
I want to thank all who work in this place very much .
I do not know how I may express myself, but I assure them of my gratitude.
They got love, they care.
The care I got I attribute to God.
A sick person makes lots of work, but they care for them.
They help the people with love.
They go from home to home to visit the people.
I am a pastor.
I fail to do lots of things, but in this place I learnt a lot of things.
All the things I learnt were so good and built my life.
I regret to say that in South Africa I visit a lot of places.
There are some places which are called like this place, but they are not like this.
There was a time, when my sister's son was very sick, close to death, and I gave up.
I said: God, you took his mother and his father and now also him.
He is very sick.
He is also going.
How good, you did not take him at that time.
I was having money, so I left him at Stanger Hospital.
Do you know how I was waiting?
I was waiting to get a call to come to collect his body.
After four weeks I found out he is here.
I came here to one of the sisters.
I think she was a strict sister.
She talked to me staight forward, but I had never been consequent.
I was wrong and I told her this.
Thanks very much to you, Father Gerard, and your organisation.
Victor R Nxumalo"
After our nurse had spoken to him he was consequent, attended a HAART-readiness Course (which the respective treatment supporter must attend together with the patient) and his nephew could be startet on antiretroviral treatment and is meanwhile a happy and strong boy who will live for many more years.
This page is part of the Newsletter No. 27 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard
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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:21