Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

The Innocent Victims of AIDS

A very sad thing happened today. On Thursday evening I called our coordinator for our AIDS ministry to discuss a few issues with her before meeting one of our Home-Based Care groups on Friday. She told me that a family had been identified, a mother and father (both HIV-positive) who have recently had triplets. The children are one month old. The children could not be nursed as it is absolutely essential, when a mother is HIV-positive and nurses a baby, that the baby may not take any other food or liquid for the first six months, not even water, after which the child is put onto solids and then the baby may not be nursed at all anymore. With three children this is impossible.

However, when the family was found, the caregiver found out that the mother is feeding the children with thin maize porridge as she does not have money to buy milk formula. I was shocked when I heard this. On Friday morning I had a quick discussion with our coordinator about the situation and we decided that we would take responsibility for the children until they are at least six months old. We would buy the formula and bottles and everything else which is needed and will make sure that the children are fed properly. I went to a local pharmacy and arranged to have the correct formula ordered so that we could start caring for these children as from Monday.

At this point I need to share a remarkable incident, something which have happened to us a number of times in the past. Our budget does not really allow us to do things like this. Our income is too small and our expenses just too big. But we have learned to be open to the nudging of God when we need to do something like this and normally don’t spend much (and normally almost no) time on discussing where the money will come from. It’s not that my faith is so big. But God has taught us a few lessons over the past few years. In any case, when I arrived home on Friday and opened my email, I received a message that a group of students that had been with us in Swaziland had arranged to have money deposited into our account. At least now we know that we will be able to take care of the children.

And then, this morning, I got the news that one of the babies had died! Not because of HIV. Because of malnutrition. I was angry. I’d had a tough day, struggling to work through some bureaucratic red tape, both in South Africa and in Swaziland. But suddenly all my impatience seemed to vanish as I realized that these parents had lost a child, probably not because they did not care, but more probably because they lacked some basic knowledge and lacked the funds to be able to give their three children what they needed. I was angry at the injustice that seem to force certain people to do things that we would consider to be absolutely irresponsible. I was angry that we were not able to pick up this problem earlier.

The other two children are also suffering form malnutrition and have now been hospitalized. As soon as they leave the hospital, we will make sure that they are properly fed.

Last year I preached in a church (on World AIDS day). Afterwards I heard that a certain man who had been in the church was absolutely disgusted with the service, saying, amongst others, that AIDS was not his problem. The people who had it had made a choice and are suffering the consequences.

I wish I could take him to these children and ask him what they had done to deserve this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - Posted by | AIDS, Death, Disparity, Health, HIV, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Poverty, Short-term outreaches, Support teams, Swaziland


  1. […] Original post by Arnau van Wyngaard […]

    Pingback by The Innocent Victims of AIDS | Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. Arnau – dankie vir hierdie insae. DIs so gemaklik om mens in jou werk te verdiep en nie dieper te kyk as net om in dei verbygaan kennis te neem van die ‘gerusstellende’ jongste VIGS Satatistieke nie. En tog is daar so baie wat ons MOET doen.

    Comment by Johanna | Thursday, June 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. This comment is in regards to the man who said that the people who had AIDS are not his problem because they’re suffering their own consequences:

    In my time in Swaziland, one thought that came back to me over and over was that I have sinned so many times in so many ways. My perspective is the opposite of that man’s. My perspective is that I deserve these horrible consequences as much as anyone else.

    Perhaps that man is with sin?

    Comment by timdel | Friday, June 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. OH wow wow wow, another day on the mission field. I am praying for you!

    Comment by Michelle | Friday, June 12, 2009 | Reply

  5. Arnau, this is so sad. But I love your faith and it speaks volumes that your relationship with the Lord is such that when He speaks, you listen, no questions asked. The work you do in Swazi is inspirational! Keep the faith brother! <

    Comment by Kirsten | Sunday, June 28, 2009 | Reply

  6. […] when other people die. We’re confronted daily with death in Swaziland. I recently blogged about The innocent victims of AIDS. After I wrote about the baby who had died, one of a triplet, I heard on Sunday that a second baby […]

    Pingback by The Death of a Celebrity « Mission Issues | Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Reply

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