Throughout the last year while the COVID crisis and the Masi fire kept many of us at Living Hope very busy, many of our longstanding programmes quietly carried on with their vital everyday work. One such programme is called HAST: HIV/AIDS, STI’s and Tuberculosis. This programme with just 11 employees screens and cares for well over 1000 people per month, sometimes up to 3000 people per month during special outreaches!
Support for clients diagnosed with HIV and TB is given in many formats. Some of our staff work in local health facilities where patients come for TB and HIV testing, and need assistance while starting their treatment. Small groups of clients also meet monthly at a “club” or support group where our counsellors give education, encouragement and ensure that the client is taking the prescribed treatment. Large public outreaches are also organized by the HAST team. These outreaches allow us to be able to screen and if the necessary test as many people as possible to halt the further spread of HIV and TB!
Here are some pictures of our HAST team hard at work:
Our Counsellors giving educational talks during TB World Outreach Day at a local health facility where some clients with drug resistant TB stay during their treatment.
Here is Marius, one of our HAST counsellors, who was one of the first Living Hope employees to receive the COVID vaccine. It’s so important that our staff were able to set a good example and help to decrease any stigma or fears surrounding vaccination.
TB Screening and education with teenagers at Masiphumele High School.
Setting up for a TB outreach at a taxi rank. Taxis are a great way to reach out to many folks travelling for work.
This van is more important than you might think at first glance. Usually clients have to wait quite some time before receiving their TB test results. This van processes sputum samples on site, so the client can know their result within 15 minutes! This means that fewer clients are lost to follow up and can begin medication immediately!
And then comes the more difficult parts of the job; tracing and finding clients that have stopped taking their treatment. Many times clients experience harsh side effects from the medications and give up taking the treatment they need. Other times, perhaps there was an error in the system or the client was unaware of their next appointments etc. Our counsellor, Thozama, discovered an HIV positive 14yr old girl who had not started her treatment for over a year since her diagnosis! After Thozama counselled the client, she referred her to the hospital for immediate initiation on treatment.
Just a few weeks ago, our staff were asked by the local clinic to find a client lost to follow up. They were given the address of the client in one location, but then were directed to the train station in another location. They were told, “Well if you can find a guy called “Buster” then he should know where she is!” Our dedicated staff were determined that despite having only a name and no address, that somehow they must find this client! So they started driving down the main road and praying “Lord, help us to find this man, Buster”! After they parked at the train station, they stopped the first homeless man they found, explaining that they were looking for a client and did he know someone named Buster? He replied “I am Buster!” And “Yes!” he did have a good friend that had been very sick and please could they help her, he had been so worried about her. When they found the client she was very frail and ill and they managed to drive her to the hospital and get her admitted.
One month ago our staff were asked to locate a homeless client that was living at the local sports grounds. Portions of the grounds are quite a wild area with sand dunes, wetlands, caves etc. If you can only imagine our two ladies bush whacking their way through the tall grasses and reeds, shouting the name of the client until he emerged from a wooded area!
Our staff literally always go the extra mile, as for them it’s all about finding the ONE client who needs their help! We are so thankful for these faithful frontline workers. And we are so thankful for YOU our financial supporters who enable this kind of ministry through your faithful giving! Please do click the blue button below to donate securely via our website or see our banking details below to keep ministries like HAST running!
We thank you for your continued support,