It is said that almost half of population is HIV/AIDS patients in Swaziland. What is going on this beautiful country? I am gonna volunteer for two weeks to share my life with them and know about Africa.
At the second day in Swaziland I met one lady on the road during cycling. Her name is Zoe. She picked me up to her house to let me stay overnight. I told her about what I want to do and she introduced me ‘Hope House’ which is like a sanatorium. She is supporting one of house.
I got the permission from a sister and an international director to volunteer. I have volunteered for two weeks from Monday to Friday and from 8:30 am to 4 pm. It is downhill when I go to Hope House by bicycle. But when I come back home, it is uphill and very hot.
Hope House has 25 houses which are very small that it has a bathroom, a kitchen and three or four beds in one place. Right now over 15 houses are occupied. In the morning I and nurses visit every house. After that time I help small things and I visit some houses. The time is going very fast during staying over there.
From now I want to write my experience about two weeks which I have spent in Hope House. I take the picture of patients before I just finish my volunteering. I get permission from every patient to upload the picture on the internet. I do pixelating them to protect their private. Some of them don’t mind to show their face. Some of them don’t like to be taken the picture so that I don’t have some of picture of patients. I will also use Alphabet to call patient name to protect their private. Alphabet is not relative with their name.
In the first day at Hope House she is my first patient I meet on the picture. I will call her “A” Patient.
I am very shocked to see her, because she is too thin. I only see too thin people on TV. “A” is actually HIV/AIDS patient. She is 23 years old, but her parents were too poor to send her to school. So she only finished grade 5. She has three sisters and one brother. She is the youngest, but her family is too poor.
(In Swaziland students must pay to go to school. The minimum salary for month in Swaziland is around 75 $ (600 E). It seems that there is free education until grade four or five. But after that time students must pay around 500$ (4000 E) per year. The higher their grade is, the more they must pay. How people can pay 500$ per year for education when they can get only 75 $ per month??? Swaziland has King. It seems like it is Communist that they can never change their king and blame or complain about king in Public place. It looks like it will be hard to change their politic that there is too much corruption.)
Actually it is my first time to see HIV/AIDS patient. According to Korean statistics of 2010 there were only 7,656 HIV positive in Korea. It means less than 0.1 percent.
I’ve never faced HIV/AIDS before so that I had been nervous a bit. I’ve heard that I can get HIV through wound. Actually chance of infection is very low, but anyway it is possible that I have to be careful. Through two weeks, I have learnt that they are not much different from other people.
In the picture ‘A’ Patient’s body has gotten worse since ‘A’ Patient got HIV in November 2012. Though her body is too weak to walk, she minds to use wheelchair, because she doesn’t like being treated weak person.
She can speak a bit English, but we don’t speak much time. I though she doesn’t care about my visiting. The last day she tells me that she enjoyed my visit. It is an unexpected thing.
This time is something different that some people treat me as if I am just ‘tourist’. It is unfair that I’ve volunteered since I was 15 years old. I though she is one of person who though like that way. So when she says that it is glad to know me, I feel happy.
What is the purpose of volunteering? To me, the reason is to share life. (Journal of Swaziland -> http://www.universewithme.com/?p=7594)
‘B’ Patient is HIV positive. He has the problem with stomach, because his immune system is too weak to protect from virus. He also got skin cancer that some part of his skin turned to black and lost lots of weight. He found he got HIV on 2007. Recently his immune system is going bad that it makes his body too weak.
I want to share with you about what HIV/AIDS which I study at this time is.
What is HIV?
HIV is the name of Virus. It is called Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks your immune system.
HIV and AIDS are the same mean?
No. AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Over time, your immune system may grow weak and you can become sick with different illnesses. After time, your immune system will no longer be able to defend your body from infections, diseases or cancers that can kill you. This advanced stage of the HIV disease is called AIDS.
What will be going on the person’s body who get HIV?
HIV infects and destroys blood cells that a person’s immune system needs to work. HIV stays in the body for years, destroying blood cells until their immune system is so damaged that they develop AIDS (also known as advanced HIV disease). At this stage, HIV has weakened their immune system to the point that they can no longer fight off certain types of infections that other people can fight. .
If you get HIV, you can die as soon as possible?
No. If you take medicine which makes your immune system stronger, you can live longer than 10 years or 20 years or more. . Actually it can mean HIV is diabetes chronic symptoms.!!!
Who can get HIV? Shouldn’t we share food with HIV positive?
NO!! Studies have shown that HIV is not spread through these types of casual contact such as food utensils, Towels and bedding, Swimming pools, Telephones, Toilet seats and Mosquito bites
There are four HIV risk factors.
– Blood Transfusion 90%
– Babies can be infected by an HIV-positive mother during pregnancy, birth and breast feeding. 40%
– Sexual contact (including oral, anal or vaginal sex) with someone who is HIV positive or whose HIV status is unknown, without the protection of a latex male condom. 1%
-Sharing drug needles or syringes. 0.4%
But the highest percentage of factors is through unprotected sex.
People can know HIV positive as soon as possible getting HIV?
No. Many people have no symptoms of HIV. Some have flu-like symptoms a month or two after getting the virus. These may include fever, headache, tiredness, and enlarged lymph nodes (these are organs of the immune system in the neck and groin). These symptoms usually go away before they are identified as HIV. If you have unprotected sex, you should go to have the test especially in Africa where is the high population of HIV positive.
When was AIDS and HIV first discovered?
HIV appeared in North American in the 1970s. Between 1979 and 1981, health authorities identified that, in certain U.S. neighborhoods, otherwise healthy gay men were developing diseases that only happen when the immune system is weakened. They believed that an infection was causing the disease, which was later named acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1983, researchers Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
According to some theory, HIV may have come from certain types of monkeys or chimpanzees. There are monkey viruses, called simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) that are closely related to HIV. Some researchers believe that one of those viruses could have turned into HIV and that by hunting and eating chimpanzees, humans may have become infected.
‘C’ Patient has spent one month in Hope House. When she came here, her body was worse. But now she is getting better that she can walk alone.
To stay Hope House is 600 Emalangeni (75 $) for a month. I think it is really cheap place to stay. But to local patient it is too expensive, because the minimum of their salary is around 600 Emalangeni!!! Most of patients go back home after one to three months. Some of patients got batter after staying here and some of them were not much different from first time when they came. Some of them died in Hope House.
‘D’ Patient had worked as maid though she got HIV in 2007. But she got worse that moved to Hope House in December 2012. She has also cancer of Skin which makes her skin black. She also suffered from coughing. She leaves Hope House at my last day, because she gets better now.
‘E’ Patient is also HIV positive that he had stroke in last year that now he can’t walk. Also his eyes are going bad that he can’t see properly.
There is not only HIV patient, but also other kind of patient. The lady on left is 19 years old and sufferes from epilepsy. Her family was very poor that she couldn’t be cared well when she was child. Last year she had hard time that she couldn’t walk anymore. But every day she has been getting better since she came here. Even now she can walk!
He is very special friend to me. Zoe, my host, is supporting him. That’s how I start good relation with him. He had car accident that he can’t walk anymore. But he doesn’t give up that he thinks he can walk someday.
At the last day he tells me that he will miss me and be sad. So, I say to him “It is not unfair that I will also miss you. Think about it. You have a family and good friends here, but I don’t have any family and friend on the road and even most of time I am alone! So actually I will be lonelier than you!”
And then we laugh together.
Some people say short time for volunteering is not good. But in my opinion is different. We all don’t stay with other people for 24 hours and 30 days and 365 days! We just meet people when we have the time!!! I mean we cannot stay with someone forever or for a long time! The important thing is to enjoy the moment we share together.
He has the pain with his back. He can’t know what is problem in Swaziland so that he needs to go to meet specialist in South Africa. I hope he can find out the solution in SA.
There are 25 houses. Five of them are under the construction and two of them are used as storehouse and four of them are empty. I have met other patients which I don’t have picture of.
‘F’ patient got HIV in August 2011. Recently she had a stroke. Now she suffers from paralysis. She can’t see, taste and smell properly anymore. She is not much getting after staying in Hope House and it is expensive to stay to her so that she leaves a few days ago before I leave. I couldn’t see her leaving, because I was off. I was bit sad that I wish I talk to her before leaving.
It is like a plaza for everybody.
‘G’ Patient got HIV long time ago. But since last year he has had hard time that he has suffered from dementia. He can’t remember very well about his everything like family and other thing.
This is Hope House. The spelling which I write about patient is not relative with their house name.
‘H’ Patient is also HIV/AIDS. He has only bones now that he is too thin to move. He has the problem with his stomach that can’t eat very well. He has also other problem with his eye.
Why half of population in Swaziland is suffered from HIV/AIDS? There are many social problems. To go to school is very expensive. Many people can’t get proper education so that many of them are not educated.
Also their culture has the problem that one man can have many wives. Male-to-female transmission of HIV is estimated to be eight times more likely than female-to-male transmission. Also social and cultural gender roles lead men to refuse to use condoms, and wives cannot deny what her husband wants. Swaziland has the big problem because of their culture so that the government must stop man to have many wives for a while. But the problem is King in Swaziland has 13 wives. It means he will never say about this problem in public. (I’ve also heard that people and the press can never complain and blame the king in the public.)
This is inside of Hope House. It is very clean! The house has a kitchen, bathroom and three or four beds. In every house only one patient stays with their family or nursing people whom they hire.
‘I’ Patient is very unique person that she makes me so sad. She came to Hope House almost the same day I came. She is skin and bones. She can’t move and walk that her illness is the worst in Hope House. She is HIV/AIDS patient. Now her immune system is getting the worst. The most terrible thing is she denied taking pills which make her immune system stronger. All of us thought that she couldn’t talk. But later we realized that she denied talking! One night she told her mother she wants to go home.
She has worst bedsore which get bigger and bigger because of too weak immune system. She must take not only pill for HIV/AIDS but also for her mental problem. The before I left counselor persuades her and finally she starts having pill.
But I can never hear she talks. The last day I tell her my knowledge of HIV/AIDS which I study. ‘It is new virus which we just found in 1980s, but we already made pills which make immune system stronger. Even people can leave longer, because all over the world is studying HIV/AIDS very hard that one day we can make perfect cure pill.’
Surprisingly her eyes are growing and it seems that she get shocked. I am not sure that it is my misunderstanding or not. I do hope she doesn’t give up her life.
I think houses are so nice to stay that it is very quiet and peaceful.
This is office of Hope House. Every day I cycle from the place I stay to Hope House. When I come to Hope House, it is downhill and cool. But when I go back to house, it is uphill and hot.
Some of patients hire people who take care of them. “E” hire him on the picture.
According to statics in 2002, 57 of caregivers of HIV/AIDS got HIV through such as syringe in the U.S. It means caregivers have to be careful during treatment.
Nurse teaches how to use gloves for medical purpose. I also learn at this time. One of hands picks outside of glove and strip and bare finger puts inside of left glove and strips. It makes bare hands will not touch outside of glove.
I was not afraid of blood before. Since I studied HIV/ADIS, I’ve realize I should not touch other people’s blood especially in Africa. The first day in Swaziland, the people who gave me the place told me that she doesn’t touch other people’s wound with bare hands.
Every Wednesday one local lady brings lunch which she cooks. Nurse rings the bell, and then people who take care of their patients bring their lunch box.
There are donated foods on every Wednesday from local lady, Thursday and Saturday from local restaurant, Sunday from some church and Monday from Meat Company. There is no donating on Tuesday and Friday. A sister says any donating is welcome.
If you have the plan to go to Swaziland, how about to donate small things like just fruit or other thing?
There is info of Hope House at the last in the post
Yes, here is “Hope” House that the right people on the picture is going back home. Before he leaves, nurses are checking all of things of House.
I talked with William, National Director one day. Actually it was kind of discussing of African future. He wanted to show one of their meeting in Piggs Peak where is popular to tourist.
I went to a meeting place with officers, but unfortunately I couldn’t understand their language and officers didn’t explain well about what they are doing.
The thing they are talking about is how to progress their project well. Most of them are from local care house like Hope House.
The next week William wanted to take me another meeting. Fortunately at this time I went to the meeting with other officer who explained very well about what they are talking.
The building on picture was meeting place and also orphanage.
Orphans live with their relative, but they come here during the day and staffs (volunteers) teach them something and play with them.
Usually there are 30 orphans in this kind of building, and there are five local volunteers. On the picture they are kind of volunteeres that they get 600 Emalangeni (75 $) every three months. It was very impressive that local people take care of their local!
The officer explained what important thing for an orphanage is. Later volunteers and the officer discussed about many things.
The village is only 50 km (31 mi) from the city but has the problem with water and electronic. What they discussed was they don’t have water that orphans should bring their water and other stuff like sugar and salt. Also they don’t have money to buy Gas so that orphans should bring small wood for cooking.
Another thing they talked about is to make vegetable garden.
The most impressive thing was they were passionate about what they are doing. Many people wrote down about meeting.
At the end of meeting, I got the chance to talk with them. They asked me that they want me to share their problem with our country people to get help from our country. I promised that I will do!
And here I am doing!
All of volunteers have their own family. Some of them bring their kids on the meeting. There is not good transportation in Africa that many of them walked long way to have meeting. When they went back home, the officer gave them lift on small truck (bakkie).
I thought local people need overseas hands, but I realized that actually the most things they need is MONEY! There are too much unemployed in Africa that if overseas people send them money, they can be hired and work for their village.
According to William, National Director, he can send an invoice after getting money from overseas organization or other social group.
(William’s info is the end of posting. )
We bought grilled corn for 50 cents on our way back.
Hope house is around schools that I can see street vendors every morning. I usually buy my lunch from them. I buy an apple, bread and snack for one dollar.
I print out friend’s pictures. But actually it is too expensive!! One picture is around 50 cents! In Korea one picture to print is only 10 cents!!
I write some letter which a sister asks me in the morning at the last day.
Today is Friday which doesn’t have donation! But here we get donation! From me! I don’t have much money for my traveling so that I couldn’t buy big and good things, but only small things.
It is very hot day that to buy and bring 14 breads, 14 milk and 14 spread bread to Hope House is really hard. Though it is very heavy to carry at hot day, I really appreciate that I can share something with them.
I realize many things about HIV/AIDS at this time that they are not much different from us. They can work and live with any problem unless their immune system is weaker.
I also find out some problem of Africa during getting knowledge. The most important thing in my opinion is to let them go to school, because uneducated thing makes them worse. I don’t think government wants them to be smart, for they want to hide their corruption.
There will be many kind of helping for them and I hope I can do one of thing for them one day.
(Journal of Swaziland -> http://www.universewithme.com/?p=7594)
Address: Behind St Theresas Clinic, Manzini, Swaziland
Postal Address: Box19 Manzini M200
Tel: +268 2505 2644
Caritas Swaziland (William’s contact)
Contact Name: Makhundu W. Kelly – National Director
Address: Corner of Tenbergen and Sandlane Streets, Manzini, Swaziland
Postal Address: P.O Box 19; Manzini M200; Swaziland
Tel: +268 505 6900/1/2/4/5 Fax: +268 505 2338
Reference: The Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre, a program of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), AIDS (Acuired immunodeficiency syndrome), Wikipedia.
HIV/AIDS map from wikipedia