Suffering is not a word we hear that much in the United States Mass Media. It certainly isn't up there with all the updates on pop-culture but it is very much a reality in the world. I know there are many people in the United States that are going through tough times economically and the consequences of being out of work has ripple affects. Families and relatives are affected by the lives of those that are under that strain.
But every time I come to India or get to Africa -- I see suffering on a level that just blows me away.
I visited Nireekshana Clinic today with Saji and the Ywam HIV/AIDS team that volunteers at counseling on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So I sat with Saji and was going to quietly just listen as the patients shared their stories and pray for them under my breath and maybe share a bit from my own story in hopes that I might be an encouragement.
First patient -- a young woman at the age of 25 years old. AIDS diagnosis -- coughing right in front of us -- a deep cough -- she has TB -- it is her second bout with TB. Her CD4 count has dropped from 435 down to 80 - -you have AIDS when you have 200 -- she is way lower than that. She is skin and bones -- I ask Saji -- is she eating -- he asks her and she says -- she has Rice. I said is she getting any protein -- he says, She has rice. -- That is it. Rice. Plus -- for the last week she has been throwing up in the morning and can't eat -- a nervous stomach.
She has a nervous stomach because her daughter who is 7 years old had fallen off the top floor of the house about a year ago -- and there were no broken bones -- only they did not check for head injuries -- about 2 months ago - her daughter had been diagnosed with sever brain damage as a result of that fall. There has been a slow deterioration over the past couple months which is what spurred on the examination -- she waited in hours at cues in the government hospital for that terrible news. Because she lives alone -- and has to go clean houses 2-3 days a week for a living -- the child could not stay with her any longer -- so she had to send her to her mother.
Besides -- she cannot sleep at night now -- she misses her daughter but is also afraid that if she dies -- how will the young girl get along -- who will take care of her mother in her old age.
This was the first 30 minutes that I arrived.
An older gentleman is telling Saji that he is very worried about his Son -- His son has Cancer. His son is sitting next to him. His son is 20 -- when he was 18 he was diagnosed with Brain Cancer -- a very large tumor that made the side of his face protrude. This man loves this young man because it is his only son -- he would do anything to take care of him. The treatment for this cancer -- calls for him to sell their only house -- so they do and get the money and the boy goes for surgery. The cost of the surgery will use up every penny. They are broke. When he wakes up he has a vision that Jesus is healing him and that he had touched the side of his face. The boy starts to feel a bit better -- but the surgeon informs the family although they took out most of the tumor -- the boy will not live more than two months.
At this news -- the mother ends up having a heart attack and actually dies one month later. To make matters worse -- within weeks of that news the father is starting to not feel very well himself and goes to the doctor only to find out that he is HIV positive -- His numbers are very low -- he is in shock with this news.
The boy has a recurrence of the cancer and is going back into the hospital for more surgery -- the father had put a plea in with a local newspaper to try and raise money for the surgery -- the hospital is allowing the father and the son to stay in the hospital until the boy recovers from surgery. The tumor has shrunk significantly and the side of the boy's face has reduced almost back to normal -- there is something miraculous going on -- and yet - -in 5 days when they get out of the hospital -- where will they go -- they have no money -- no house -- no jobs . . .
Saji gets there number and talks to some of the others on his team about perhaps getting them a place to stay temporarily out near where he stays and maybe getting the father a small job.
After being in the clinic all day and then going into a planning session about two back to back conferences I will get to do in March for the HIV positive patients - -I was even more grateful for the opportunity to try and give them some hope and to be of use in some small way -- but the needs are tremendous here.
Even driving home and seeing so many really poor people -- I thought how many of these people go through their suffering and not even get to tell one person -- they just press on accepting their fate -- perhaps they don't know any other way.
It certainly made me stop and take stock of all that God has blessed me with -- thinking 10 years ago my CD4 count was 64 . . . today it is 436 -- still not where it should be . . .but way better . . .that not only do I have enough to eat -- I have the luxury of being able to say that I have to go on a diet because I need to loose weight . . . the irony of life.
I feel alive in Him as I try and encourage others -- I get to be here and try and make a difference some how . .
I am blessed . ..
Peace from India