Caring for the Caregiver (2)
Today we continued the process of helping a part of our group of caregivers to verbalise the emotions which they go through as they reach out to those who are infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. With the two sessions that we have had up to now (with two different groups) a few interesting things came out. The one is that the Swazi language which is used in Swaziland, or siSwati as it is officially known, seems to lack the vocabulary to accurately describe certain emotions. What we did was to encourage them to draw a “map” of their journey with the Home-Based Caring group, almost like a footpath, on which they indicate the positive things as well as the negative things which they had experienced. This was then discussed in small groups of five or six and eventually each of the groups appointed someone to give feedback to the larger group. The word which they continually used to describe negative emotions is translated as “depressed”. They were depressed when they saw the terrible need but could not do anything about it. They were depressed because sometimes there is friction within the group. They were depressed because sometimes people would gossip. Not angry or frustrated or sad – always depressed. In English and in Afrikaans we have such a vast vocabulary with which we can express our innermost feelings. This is definitely much more difficult to do in siSwati.
My psychologist friend who went with me again today made a very interesting remark. When the people spoke about their negative feelings, nobody ever mentioned that they were “depressed” because they are not getting any money for the work they are doing. The closest that anyone came to speak about money is that a woman remarked that she becomes depressed when she enters a home where people are extremely poor and she so much wants to help them, but is unable to because she herself is so poor that she cannot do anything for them, except to be there, to pray for them and to help them with certain tasks in the home.
This project is not the average ministry that one would find in most Western countries (although I can see no reason why not and in fact I believe that every congregation should have a similar ministry where they reach out to the poor and destitute within that specific community in a way that will bring Christ into the hearts of those people). But as we were driving back I thought to myself that most churches neglect their most important asset in the congregation, namely the people. I have seen so many wonderful church members reach a point where they cannot go on with whatever ministry they are involved in (youth, missions, children, etc). And I wondered to myself how many of those people would have continued if the church leadership had really focussed on them, ensuring that their most basic needs within the ministry are met and that obstacles are removed, so that they can continue to do the work which God had called them to do.
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