KHOPOTSO: Nonhlanhla Nyembe, of Mofolo North in Soweto, is HIV-positive. When she was admitted at the Mofolo Hospice, she was suffering from several complications.
NONHLANHLA NYEMBE: I survived from meningitis. I had a stroke’¦ There was a difficult time when I was feeling very bad. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do anything’¦ I’m taking ARVs now’¦ you know when you take ARVs it’s all about AIDS now. I was diagnosed (with) cancer again. I’m surviving from all those difficult things.
KHOPOTSO: Nonhlanhla was admitted at Mofolo Hospice in November last year.
NONHLANHLA NYEMBE: I couldn’t walk’¦ I stayed four days’¦ They gave me nice treatment.
KHOPOTSO: Despite all that she’s gone through, Nonhlanhla speaks about her experiences with a smile adorning her face, possibly a trademark of her fighting spirit.
NONHLANHLA NYEMBE: I have got eight years of living with HIV. But as you look at me, you don’t even believe that I have HIV. And most people are surprised when they look at me. They say, ‘haai, man. She’s just joking’. Or maybe if I go the office to get my money for grant people say, ‘She’s not sick. Why is she getting a grant?’ But I say, ‘my doctor knows why I’m getting a grant, not you. That’s none of your business’.
KHOPOTSO: Nonhlanhla’s name is Zulu and means one with luck. A measure of luck coupled with a mixture of positive attitude could be just what pulled her through.
NONHLANHLA NYEMBE: What I believe is that AIDS doesn’t kill’¦ The more you’ve got the stress, the more you have depression, the more you can’t even do other things. To avoid the stress you must be involved with people. You must go to church. You must be around a lot of people and that thing will be out of mind. And if you’ve got a problem, you must speak out and you’ll find a way to deal with the situation.
KHOPOTSO: As an out-patient at the Mofolo Hospice, Nonhlanhla comes in once a week for a check-up and also participates in a support group and the hospice’s handi-work programme aimed at creating an income for the patients and the hospice.
NONHLANHLA NYEMBE: We’re doing shoes, beads, traditional things, sewing, whatever it is to keep our minds busy, to keep ourselves busy’¦ We sell those things. Sometimes we’ve got orders from tourists’¦ They give us that little amount to thank us. It’s how we survive.
KHOPOTSO: Sister Sibongile Mafata, co-ordinator of the hospice says patients like Sibongile fall under a group called, Category 1. She says it’s important to keep them coming back to the hospice on a weekly basis, particularly for support.
SISTER SIBONGILE MAFATA: We’ve got three categories. We’ve got Category 1 ‘ that will be a patient who has just minor symptoms, who’s not very sick. Then we’ve got Category 2 ‘ who’s got mild to moderate symptoms. And then, we’ve got Category 3 ‘ it’s a person now who is very sick, who is bed-ridden’¦ The patients who are Category 1, we advise them to come to the day care, the support group. There is transport that is provided by Hospice which collects them from their homes. So, on different days the transport will collect from a different area of Soweto’¦ They come here just to be with others, share with others whatever problems that they have, have ongoing education.