AIDS CONFERENCE - 3 December 2005 - Dwaleni

The meeting started with the group of community members who are already involved in some form of Home-based caring, sharing their stories on what they are doing:

Elphas Dlamini: He is working in the Timpandzeni area. Encouraging people who are sick. He is visiting homes and caring for people - trying to find out if they are eating correctly. Making sure that they are clean. If not, he helps to wash them. If the sick people do not have food or candles, he helps them from his own pocket. He receives no money for this work, but collects something from friends. Sometimes they have to buy soap to wash the peoples clothes. There are times when they can do nothing to help and they have to leave the patients carrying their own burdens. They also teach other people in the homesteads to take care of their family members. They try to prevent the sick people from feeling as though they are dying. A big problem: People do not have enough food to eat.

Alice Lushaba
: She is working in Thunzini area. The sick people expect the caregivers to do everything for them. The patients are asking for gloves. She answers that she does not have gloves but she is there to see how people are caring for them. Patients are vomiting and have diarrhea. They need electrolyte to drink, but it is not available. She also spends time with the people who are caring for the sick person. She teaches them how to take care of a patient. Many patients are "cheeky". She teaches people to demonstrate God's love to the sick. When sick people experience God's love, they are no longer cheeky but rather feels the love. She helps where she can, but sometimes she has nothing to give.

Reginah Myeni
: Working at Sigcimeni. Looking after orphans after mother died. Father in Johannesburg but he is no longer coming home. Her cousin is helping to feed the children, but if the food is finished, Reginah has to help to get food. There are four children. The oldest one had been helping the mother when she was sick, but she never had gloves to use. They are now fearing that this child may also have become infected.

Sarah Mdziniso
: She is working in the Zombodza area. In one homestead both the father and mother passed away. There are six children who are now orphans. They are not going to school. The oldest child is 18 and he has now received a scholarship. He is now doing Grade 1 (one!!!). He doesn't have a uniform. The other children don't even have clothes. Sarah is trying to help them. The children also don't have food. Some of the helpers are trying to help them from their pockets, but are failing to make a big difference. They are afraid the children will start stealing in order to survive. Sometimes they take maize to a mill to be milled and then give the mealie meal to them to cook. This creates another problem, because some of the sick people start asking for more if they only receive mealie meal.

Robert Mkhonta
: He is working in more than one area. There are different diseases in Swaziland. Except for HIV/AIDS, some are crippled. Old people do not have a chance to exercise because nobody will help to take them out. There are no wheelchairs to help those who are disabled. He teaches the caregivers to always use gloves when working with sick people in order to protect themselves. But usually there are no gloves available at the thinkundla centres. There is also a shortage of napkins for those who have diarrhea.
Banele Mdziniso: She is working in the Mthemba area (close to Zombodza). Often the sick should go to hospital, but there is no transport to take them there. They need a storeroom at the chiefdom to store material. Many sick people do not have enough blankets if they are cold. Some homes have toilets built by the government but others do not even have toilets. At some homes there are no water. They need to tanks to store water in. We need to tell our church members that they must not only visit people from their own church but they must get involved in the whole community. Within chiefdoms food must be planted for the use of those who are sick. The high number of funerals are also putting a great burden on the community.

After hearing the "stories" the meeting went over into a discussion about our future plans.

They do not have an idea how many people are HIV-positve. It is only when people are about to die that they will admit it. People who admit that they are HIV-positive may get ARVs. There are about 300-400 orphans in EACH chiefdom (I thought about 80 in the whole area!)

There are one or two volunteers in each chiefdom. Zombodza has three. Dwaleni is in the Ngwenyameni chiefdom. Zombodza has seven zones under one chief. Robert can bring us more accurate figures on the number of orphans. The present volunteers report to Robert as well as to the chief's council.

Do the volunteers have money? No. They take money from their own pockets and buy food and fruit to take to 2 or 3 homes. There is no help from government. The volunteer project was started by the Department of Health but they give no support.

Andriëtte said that help should be focussed - identify a few homes with the biggest needs and focus on these places.

Michelle explained how PSA works - volunteers meet once a week for support and training and to hear the needs of the other workers.

At present the volunteers are only going out once a week to visit homes.

Elphas Dlamini mentioned a problem: If male volunteers go to visit homes, it may happen that the husband is drunk and start accusing the volunteer of bewitching the wife. They therefore need some kind of ID.

The present volunteers are not employed, except for two who are working on a temporary base. The fact that they are not working makes it very difficult for them to contribute anything from their own pockets to help the patients.

It was proposed that a vegetable garden should be started in the chiefdom from which food can be received for the sick people.

Michelle said that volunteers should be seen as people helping with their hands - they are not supposed to provide food, school fees, etc. These needs should be reported to the committee who must try and help.
It was made clear that all volunteers are part of the committee, but that an executive needs to be chosed in order to coordinate future training.

The following people were elected on the committee:

  • Michelle McCubbin (Caring for Shiselweni)
  • Sarah Mdziniso (Zombodza)
  • Robert Mkhonta (Ngwenyameni)
  • Shorty Khumalo (SRC Shiselweni)
  • Banele Mdziniso (Bulekeni)
  • Lindiwe Mkhaliphi (Makhonza)
  • Cynthia Dlamini (Maphondweni)
  • Arnau van Wyngaard (Convenor)

It was decided that training will be organised during the second or third week of January.
At the next meeting it will be necessary to have a list of people in the various areas in need of care, a list of the orphans as well as specific needs.

Most of the people who attended our first conference at Dwaleni to start planning a Home Based Caring program for the area