Bheki* is 32 years-old and hails from Marian Hill where he lives with his older brother, Sibusiso*. Bheki and Sibusiso’s parents both passed away when they were in their teens and the two brothers have stuck together ever since.
“My brother is one year older than me, but he is still my older brother. He has done a lot for me and we always try to look after each other.”
Bheki was admitted to HACT’s Respite Unit in late June 2016, two weeks after he started TB treatment which he received from his local clinic.
“I was very sick at that time and coughing a lot. I was happy when I started taking the TB medicine because I wanted to get better, but I soon started feeling worse, not better.”
In addition to having TB, Bheki is HIV positive and the strong side effects of the TB medication took their toll on his weakened body.
“By the time I arrived here, I was so weak I couldn’t even move. I was vomiting a lot and couldn’t breathe. My chest hurt too much...”
Bheki was initiated immediately onto ARV treatment by HACT’s nursing team upon arrival in the Unit, but many felt it was too late.
“I remember the night he arrived,” says HACT’s Respite Unit Counsellor, Thami Mathe “he was gasping for air and I really did not think he would make it through the night. I thought to myself, this one, he is at the end now, it’s too late. ”
But against all odds, Bheki did make it through that first night and just over four months later, he is sitting up in bed and eager to tell his story, despite the fact that he has very little voice at the moment.
“It has been a difficult time for me. But I am feeling much stronger now, even though my voice keeps coming and going.”
When asked about the staff in the Respite Unit, Bheki cracks a big smile and slowly shaking his head he says; “The people here are amazing. They are interested in you as a person not just as a patient. They ask you about your home and who will be there to help you. They have a lot of understanding and patience towards us - like helping you to put your shoes on, it’s no problem to them!”
Bheki’s recovery continues to be a slow one, but one that he’s determined to make. He has two young boys of his own aged 6 and 11 years-old who currently stay with their mother and who Bheki desperately wants to be a good father to. Prior to getting sick, Bheki had a temporary job with the local municipality in their recycling department. But now, he thinks he would like to do more when he eventually goes home.
“I want to get better so that I can be there for my boys,” explains Bheki. “I’d like to try get my driver’s licence and maybe study, then I can get a better job and support my children.”
If you would like to help HACT give people like Bheki a second chance, please consider making a donation or supporting our Adopt-a-Bed Campaign. With your help, we can continue to save lives and help people like Behki go home to his family…
*Names have been changed.