OurHealth. – Tumi (not her real name) was at death’s door when her grandmother carried her on her back to the Golden Gateway Hospice in Bethlehem, in the Free State. Story by Thamsanqa Majola.
“Before we took her to hospice the child was very sick, and we even thought that it’s time for her to go meet her ancestors,” said Tumi’s grandfather.
Tumi and three of her siblings live in a shack with their grandparents who are too old to work. They live in extreme poverty.
The six-year-old was suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition and was also experiencing complications caused by HIV/AIDS – which she’s had since birth.
“When she came to Golden Gateway Hospice on her grandmother’s back, she was wearing nappies because of severe diarrhoea. She was apathetic, and didn’t want to eat or drink anything. She just sat there and cried,” said Sister Topsy van Zyl at Golden Gateway Hospice. Tumi was immediately admitted to the local hospital for treatment.
“I visited her every day, but I wasn’t always sure she would make it to the next day,” said Tumi’s grandmother.
Fortunately her condition improved and she was eventually discharged from hospital, although she was still very weak. A social worker, Rutendo, and Sister Van Zyl visited the family’s shack and did a full medical and psychosocial assessment to help draw up a care plan for Tumi.
“We received a warm welcome and good services and help from hospice staff. We are very, very happy for the work that hospice people have done for our family,” said the grandmother.
Today Tumi is has fully recovered from her ordeal, and is looking forward to starting grade one next year.
Just like Tumi and her family, there are many sick and desperate people who find solace at the Golden Gateway Hospice. This non-governmental organisation (NGO) not only takes care of people with life-threatening and life-limiting diseases, but also offers support to their families and communities, irrespective of their financial position.
The hospice strives to enhance the quality of life of patients, help to provide them with dignity in death, and offer support with bereavement for the family. They achieve these ideals through direct patient care, training, supervision and mentorship in palliative care.
The organisation offers many services: they have home-base care givers that provide holistic palliative care, a professional nurse and social worker that assess patients, and psychological care through professional counselling to both the patients and their families.
The NGO also has many projects and programmes that help to educate and take care of vulnerable children that have been affected and infected with HIV/AIDS and TB, or children who become vulnerable when their parents or guardians become sick.
* Majola is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Bethlehem in the Free State.