The garden they planted is doing great. Some of the HIV patients in Freedom Park have joined together to work in the garden. It took our team a back breaking week and a half to prepare the soil for a portion of the field. These patients have expanded the area of the garden to about twice the size of what our team had done. That is A LOT of VERY hard work. That soil is seriously very, very tough soil to break up.
I was very happy to see that they have taken the initiative to organize themselves and put in the hard work to expand the garden. They've planted seeds and the vegetables are beginning to grow. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to grow healthy vegetables for themselves, and also to be able to sell the produce to make a little extra money.
Our church, Red Rocks Church, raised some money during vbs last summer. I was able to use part of this money to buy two more loads of manure for the new portion of the garden.
This is a picture of the garden now that the patients have expanded it.
(click on the pictures to enlarge)
When the Red Rocks team was here, we built 2 shacks for homeless families. I learned from Jackie, the coordinator of orphaned and vulnerable children in Freedom Park, that she has been regularly following up with these families and they are doing well.
Jackie has found some tuition money to send the children to creche (pre-school) in January. At that time, the parents will come to the after school program to give back to the community by working in the garden or participating in the job creation program there. It's good to hear that Jackie has a heart to not just give these people a hand out, but to see them mentored to both give back, and to help themselves.
When our team was in Freedom Park in July they met a little boy living with his mother in a shack. The mother was very ill and needed to go to hospice for care, but she didn't want to leave her son. Our team helped coordinate care for the little boy and we brought the mom to hospice.
Here is a picture of the little boy when we first found him.
Here is a picture of the little boy after our team cleaned him up, provided new clothes, fed him, and arranged foster care for him.
Some people from our team really have a heart for this little boy and have continued to provide money for him to go to creche (preschool.)
I was able to see the little boy and his mom last week, but the story is not necessarily encouraging. The good news is he has been reunited with his mom. The bad news is that she left the hospice before she was healthy because several other patients had died and she was afraid to be there.
It does not seem like her health has improved at all, she is still very ill and can hardly walk or take care of herself. The caregiver told me that the little boy must stay home from creche to help care for his mom.
Can you imagine a child this age responsible for caring for his dying mother?
The caregivers are trying to arrange for the mother to go to the government hospital for care, but this is not really an encouragement as the government hospitals are not well run. The conditions are truly quite appalling. I've known many people who have either been misdiagnosed, or severely neglected while staying in the hospital.
The caregiver told me that the mother has another son who is around 15 years old and lives a few hours away. They have requested for him to come home to help with his mother, but I don't know if that will really happen or not. The little boy will likely go to a foster care family if his mother goes to the hospital, but if the older brother comes home then I'm sure that the older boy would care for the younger.
The good news is that he has people who are looking out for him and making sure that he is taken care of.
Here is a picture that I took this week of the little boy with his mom in front of their shack.
The lady on the right is a caregiver from the HIV clinic.
This is a sad, real life example of the devastation of AIDS in South Africa. There are no quick and easy answers to the problems caused by AIDS and poverty. Even though there are positive improvements and lives are being changed, the obstacles are monumental.
In South Africa there are 2 million children who have been orphaned because of AIDS. Each one has a story like this.