(re-posted from March 2008)
I wish this story had a nice and neat ending, but it doesn’t. I’m sharing it just to give you an idea of what a “typical” day can look like here, the situations people here are facing, and some of the frustrations of trying to get things done!!
Last week I met a little boy named Bevulile (or something similar that starts with a “B”). He’s 10 yrs old, an orphan, and HIV positive. He’s the nephew of one of the women I work with (Jabulile), and lives with his granny. When we went to his house last Tuesday he was sitting on a grass mat under a tree in their front yard (large dirt area). His arms and legs are about size of Ellie’s (3 yrs). His cheeks are swollen, his hair is thinning. He missed most of last school year because of being sick. They said he was too weak to walk any more than the 15 feet to the outhouse. I’m not sure if it is all just from the HIV/AIDS or malnourishment…probably a combo of the two.
Language and cultural barriers can make communication SO HARD & FRUSTRATING. Jabulile had said the granny was refusing to let the boy go to the hospital. The granny said she had already taken him and that he was supposed to go back this week for a check up. To me, it looked like he needed to be in a hospital bed somewhere right away. Finally it was decided we’d wait til this week to take him to the doctor. In the mean time, we were able to get him some rehydration salts that I was hoping would help in some way.
So Tuesday morning we drove the 30 min out to Bevulile’s house to pick him up and take him to the doctor. We walked into the “yard” and one of the nasty scrawny dogs laying under the tree jumped up and started coming at me growling and barking like crazy. I was sure I was about to be bitten. I’m glad no one was there with a video camera to catch the reaction on my face, or the weird dance I started doing. He finally ran away when I threw my keys at him. I’m sure the Swazi granny fell asleep laughing that night thinking about the tall American woman flailing around in her yard!
Anyway, I was suprised to find out Beluvile was at school. They said the dehydration salts had made him feel better, although I think it probably had more to do w/ all the prayers being thrown up on his behalf. We went to school and picked him up. He was walking, but from what I could see, not much else had changed. After heading back to his house to pick up his health card, which we’d forgotten to get the first time, we were off.
We drove 60 minutes to a special Pediatric HIV/AIDS clinic in Mbabane. It’s the best care in the country, and absolutely free. We got there just over an hour before the clinic closed, and the waiting room was full of parents and children. They wouldn’t even give us a number to try standing in line though, because Bevulile’s health card said he had gotten his ARV drugs from another doctor in Manzini…30 minutes back towards where we had just come from…and needed to be check by him. SO, we all got back in the car and headed to Manzini. When I say “all of us,” I mean myself, Bevulile, Jabulile his aunt, Ntombi a neighbor who could help translate for us, and her 10 month old baby, who was nursing in the front seat of my car for most of the journey.
We got to the hospital in Manzini and I dropped off my passengers to wait in line while I ran a couple errands. I came back 1.5 hours later and they were waiting for me outside. The doctor in Manzini had also refused to see Bevulile because he was supposed to come back for a check up 2 weeks from his last one. WE WERE ONE DAY EARLY. They said even if he was very very sick, they would not see him until after 2 weeks had passed. UGH! I was so frustrated at this point, wondering what we were supposed to do for this little boy that is still so sick, and feeling like there was nothing I could do. I gave them bus fare to head back home, and some extra money to buy some vegetables. I saw Jabulile today and she said she had been able to take him to the clinic for his check up on THE RIGHT day. The doctor said he was doing fine. BLAH!
So that’s what my Tuesday looked like this week, and that’s what life looks like for Bevulile and thousands of other children here every day. Please lift Bevulile up in prayer. Pray his body would become strong and that He would know the love and care of his his amazing Heavenly Father.