A group of volunteers trained by Samaritan's Purse encourage and support HIV-positive community members in Mozambique
If a smile is a ray of sunshine, then the sun shines especially brightly at the home of one special lady in Mozambique. Beatriz lives in a land where life can be tough, but she loves to tell stories, answer questions, and laugh. Her spirit is uplifting and positive.
But Beatriz is HIV-positive.
People living with the virus typically are treated as community outcasts, shunned and secluded like lepers were in biblical times. Their sickness is considered a sign of their sin and divine rejection. These feelings corrupt what should be the brightest sources of hope. Beatriz’s family, for instance, has abandoned her and branded her a witch.
Initially, Beatriz came down with malaria, another highly endemic disease in the area. She went for medical help in a nearby town. Rather than receiving a prescription for medicine, she was sent home to perform a traditional family ceremony, an actual form of witchcraft. When it didn’t work, she was sent to a doctor in the capital city.
While with this doctor, she found out that she had HIV/AIDS. At first, there was a struggle in getting her to agree to the treatment. When she finally gave in, the doctor was so pleased that he told her he would give her a present if she continued treatment for 10 years.
She has now completed her 10 years and is excited about it.
“I have the testament from the beginning of the treatment—I kept the card!” she said.
She hurried inside her home to bring out a small card to show to her visitors. The date 6-11-2004 is written in ink. She is now patiently waiting for her present.
After several years of living in the capital for medical treatment, Beatriz returned home in 2011. Her land had become overgrown. She had to clear it herself.
“I don’t have anybody to care for me,” she said. “I don’t have anybody to give me food.”
During her absence, Samaritan’s Purse had been designing and putting together an association of other HIV-positive individuals in her village. Gathering these folks together, Samaritan’s Purse worked to sensitize the community to their condition, bringing the patients back into normal life and calling upon pastors to care for them.
A strong body of 80 volunteers has formed, dedicated to helping other people with chronic illnesses. Through agricultural production and animal rearing, they gather the funds needed to support and watch over their sickly neighbors. By next year, they hope that they will be self-sustaining.
These volunteers visit their patients frequently to make sure they are healthy and getting their medications. If they’re not, they’ll take them to the hospital using funds from the organization.
These are true Good Samaritans.
“I love to be visited because they are my family,” Beatriz said. “They are my daughters.”
Her joy was apparent as she sat next to a volunteer who visits her regularly, often bringing food or other necessities. Beatriz calls the volunteer her mother.
Each time these helpers visit Beatriz, they pray over her and spiritually encourage her. Living alone with her illness can be tough, but the friendship of the volunteers makes Beatriz feel cared for and loved both by her community members and by God.