30 year-old, Zinhle* was admitted to HACT’s Respite Unit just three weeks ago having been referred by her local clinic. Living with HIV for the past 14 years, this frail and painfully thin young woman is now facing a new battle having recently being diagnosed with cancer. “I’m so grateful to be here” says a softly spoken, Zinhle, “I was in so much pain before coming here, but the nurses are taking good care of me…”
Zinhle’s story is one of struggle and survival. Looking back, she believes that finding out she was HIV positive when she was just 14 years-old is when her battle first started. “When they told me at the clinic I had HIV, I just couldn’t understand it. I struggled for a long time to accept it, choosing instead to be in denial and party with my friends…”
From there on, Zinhle’s life spiraled out of control with casual drinking on the weekends quickly leading to experimentation and full-blown drug addiction. She got pregnant, dropped out of school and ran away from home, leaving her baby girl in the care of her mother. “Those were very dark days” says Zinhle. “I was living on the streets and drugs ruled my life. I didn’t worry about food or anything, every cent you get, you just think about the drugs… Even when I started to get sick and sores on my body, I just ignored them…”
It was only a few short weeks’ ago when Zinhle found herself at rock bottom and placed a desperate call to her mother, that she finally sought help. “After everything, it was my mother who helped me and took me to the hospital…”
While Zinhle’s condition is serious, she is at least comfortable and concentrating on taking each day at a time. “I feel like I have come out of the darkness and into the light” says Zinhle, “I was lost for so long, but I want to tell others not to be afraid, be brave and face your fears then you can live a clean and healthy life…”
*Name has been changed to protect our patient’s identity
Known locally as “Othandweni” (“place of love” in isiZulu), HACT’s 24-bed Respite Unit provides compassionate, quality respite and palliative inpatient care for children and adults with late-stage AIDS or cancer. To date, HACT’s Respite Unit has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic acting as a beacon of hope to those in desperate need.
Become a monthly donor today for just R50 per month and help us save lives…
HACT is a registered Non Profit and Public Benefit organisation and a proud member of the HPCA (Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa)
As with all our projects, our Othandweni Respite Unit is reliant on donations from the public.
Thank you for your support!