Friends and parishioners at Our Lady & St Thomas, Meadowhead heard how the gift of Hope is sent from Hallam to Kenya …and back again.
The event followed the recent visit by Angela & David Wood to Kenya where Angela worked 30 years ago. As well as revisiting friends and familiar places they had asked to see a CAFOD project in action and so were invited to Likoni in Mombasa to see the impact in one parish of the Diocesan HIV/AIDS programme accompanied by its co-ordinator, Sr Pauline Nthenya.
The programme shows the Church at work at its best. The structures of the Catholic Church enable awareness and fund raising by CAFOD at the Hallam end. Through the offices where needs are assessed, the £1 from your pocket reaches the Archdiocese of Mombasa as a symbol of your care bringing hope to those struggling against the impact of AIDS. The Church again, at the Mombasa end, provides the means for people of all denominations to come and be tested through its clinics and then get support from Community Health Workers. Stanislaus, the parish Social Worker, co-ordinates 130 volunteer CHWs in this one parish alone as they care for the needs of 2,893 orphans and the 961 clients requiring Home-Based Care. The network of care is very impressive.
And so the message of hope comes back to encourage us too. The strength, resilience and faith of the community there and the practical generosity of their response to the needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS is inspirational. Since the development of antiretroviral drugs, a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. With the support of the Community Health Workers, people now see that if they keep up regular medication, and keep their immunity strong with good hygiene and nutrition, they can live a successful, normal life with HIV.
Each success story gives renewed hope to others and encouragement to the volunteers and staff of the importance of their efforts.
One particularly heartening statistic is a success rate of over 90% in the programme for Prevention of Mother To Child (PMTC) infection. This success rate is reduced if mothers also need treatment for malaria.
The enthusiastic work of the Church community there is vital to people like Mwanasha Swale, aged 57, who lost both her daughters to AIDS and now, like many others of her generation, is left to care for her 7 grandchildren. is picture shows her with the youngest, Jasmine, and her CHW Salim Kaole, along with Sr. Pauline and Stanislaus, saying, “Thank you for remembering us, for your support and for your prayers.”
So indeed, THANK YOU for your donations which help provide medical care, school fees, clothing, nutrition, hygiene, psycho-social support, help with microfinance and legal matters, training and co-ordination of services… and hope!
But as Salim, who is at the sharp end, reminded us, “ The needs are many and they are pressing.”