AIDS has been a killer disease in Mozambique especially in the town of Chimoio. The spreading has been growing so fast that in a day not less than ten people are buried. Chimoio is along what is known as Beira Corridor. Truck drivers from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia use this corridor to go to the port on Mozambique’s eastern coast. Most of the drivers spend nights in Chimoio because it is a town along the way to the port. Abject poverty in Chimoio drives young ladies, divorced women, single and unemployed mothers to become sex workers to eke out a subsistence living. The transient truck drivers along with the desperation caused by poverty in Chimoio becomes the perfect storm for the rampant and deadly spread of AIDS.
Most of our church members and other community members are either infected or affected by this killer disease. As a member of the community I was deeply concerned with this issue and I had no means of helping my community until I flew to South Africa to get some training on how to help people combat AIDS. The Lutheran Communion of Southern Africa (LUCSA) graciously provided me training on how to prevent the spread of the disease .
In 2006 I organised a workshop to train people on how to prevent becoming infected by AIDS. This training included candid discussion about sexual contact which is a taboo topic in much of Africa, but a critical element in preventing the spread of AIDS. I had to convince people in the church to accept the training and be early examples of how to make a difference in the fight against AIDS before I was able to talk with the whole community. In July of the same year, 23 church members came were trained and that is how Vida Humana (Human Life) was formed.
ACTIVITIES OF THE VIDA HUMANA VOLUNTEERS”
Since AIDS patients often have to spend a long time in hospital and sometimes there is just no room for them, they are frequently discharged from the hospital while they are still very sick. “Activists” or volunteers are called upon to take the place of the nurses in caring for these patients. Here are a few of the ways the Activists serve:
- Assisting the patients in getting and swallowing meds twice per day on a very regimented and required schedule to restore health
- Giving baths to those who cannot walk
- Counseling and comforting patients and their families
- Doing laundry for the patients who are too weak to do this manual chore themselves
- Checking patients for secondary infections – these are wounds and skin infections sometimes, sometimes respiration problems
- Referring patients to the hospital if they become seriously ill
- Taking patients who cannot walk and have no other means of transportation to the hospital often on the backs of volunteers
- Helping obtain mosquito netting so patients can remain free from Malaria
- Giving food to those who cannot afford or do not otherwise have access to food
- Recording the medical status of the patients thrice per week and reporting to the nurse of the project
- Assisting the patient to insure they are living in a safe and clean place
- Providing spiritual or moral support
- Helping to raise money to buy a casket so the deceased can be buried respectfully
- Teaching how to prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases
These are the most important activities although there are many others.
Misheck Ruwa, Vida Humana, Founder and Activist
Vida Humana is a ministry partner of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL.