When you lose hope, you lose life
I once read something that Jessie de la Cruz, a retired farm worker in South America wrote: “With us there’s a saying: La esparanza muere ultima. Hope dies last. You can’t lose hope. If you lose hope, you lose everything.” And I read somewhere else that scientists say that a human can last for forty days without food, a few days without water, eight minutes without oxygen but only a few seconds without hope.
I’ve just read a report written by Harry and Echo van der Wal of the Luke Commission. They are from the USA but are involved for a few months every year in a medical ministry in Swaziland. Through one of the regular readers of this blog we made contact and hopefully we will be meeting in the near future. I strongly advise you to read the report which you can access here. This is such a true description of how we find things ourselves. What he is describing is a situation without hope. You see people whom you know will die shortly and all that remains is to show them love and acceptance in order to restore some dignity. They are working in the northern part of Swaziland, the only difference between their ministry and ours being that they have the medical facilities to do something to help these people while we have virtually nothing in the south of the country. But the circumstances with the people are the same.
Yesterday I escorted a group of Christians from South Africa to Swaziland. We have had a two year relationship with this congregation and they visit us about four times per year. On a previous occasion they brought a doctor along and we had an extremely distressing experience at a certain homestead with a 21 year old girl. You can read about that experience by clicking on this link.
Yesterday the team brought a physiotherapist with them. Their aim is to bring a professional person with them on every visit in order to give the caregivers further training. Part of this training is for the professional person to visit a few of the homesteads where we are working and to demonstrate to a few caregivers at a time how to care for this person. We went to visit a lady who is 74 years old and has been bed-ridden for the past eight years. A few times while we were there she told us that she would like nothing better at this stage than to die.
Her story is that she started developing arthritis about ten years ago. It was becoming more and more painful for her to stand up on her own. In the meantime her husband had died and all her children had also died. Eventually she had nobody with the strength (or the will) to help her up in the mornings to get up and because of the pain she remained in bed. At this stage the muscles in her leg had contracted to such an extent that she will never be able to walk again, even if the pain should disappear. Due to her arms and hands not being used, they have also become completely unusable. And so she is really doomed to remain in bed for the rest of her life. Physiotherapy may loosen the hand and arm muscles to a certain limited extent, but she will never regain their use. And most of this was caused by a lack of education and the lack of anybody with the time, energy and will to help her to get up in the morning.
She is now staying in a small house together with her great-grandchildren. In the morning these children go to school after they had brought her food. Then they lock the house and put the key on a windowsill. Anyone, such as the caregivers wishing to visit her, take the key from the windowsill, unlock the door and enter her house. If a fire should ever break out, she will die. If anybody wishes to harm her, they can enter her home at will. She is unable to do anything to protect herself, because she cannot move from her bed without help.
As I prayed for her yesterday, I just trusted that God would restore her hope. As those people mentioned in the report of the Luke Commission, the reality is that people are fast losing hope. Our task is to bring back hope to these people.