She cried just thinking about her life in the last nine months, how much it had improved, how grateful she was to be alive, how strangers had reached out to her and were now friends.
Londiwe Ginindza is 17 years old. She looks younger until you watch her eyes, see the fading black marks on her face, and listen to her heart tell you what her words only hint.
Last July Londiwe, who now is in grade 7 the last year of primary school, came to The Luke Commission mobile hospital. She came because the outreach was at her school in rural Eswatini. But she also came because she was sick, “so sick.”
She doesn’t remember much from that day, except to say her whole life changed, and she met Nurse Rebekah and 9-year-old Alexa. Londiwe smiles today just thinking of these two TLC staff members.
|When Londiwe meets TLC…|
Another TLC staff Ncobile recalls: “She was so thin and had sores on her face. Today I see she is very beautiful and is much different.”
That very day last July, TLC brought Londiwe back to the Miracle Campus, not wanting to lose any time or take any chances with the young lady’s deteriorating health. Her HIV compromised body registered a dangerously low CD4 count of 54.
Chronically ill in 2012, Londiwe first tested for HIV and started on anti-retroviral medications, called ART (anti-retroviral treatment). Her mother had died in 2005; her father had remarried and moved away from the family homestead; and she did not take her medications every day as is absolutely necessary.
Living with her grandmother, Londiwe hoped she was doing okay but deep inside knew she was not. Medical personnel call it “defaulting” when an HIV+ patient skips taking daily ART meds. Skipping just two days a month causes the virus to become resistant to treatment, attacking the body’s immune system successfully despite being on ART. The viral load escalates.
TLC medical staff moved Londiwe to a “2nd line” of ARTs, after ordering many tests and consultations.
“I don’t skip anymore,” Londiwe said nine months later when she came to the Miracle Campus for her monthly checkup and to get her medications. “Every day at the end, 6:00, I take my tablets.”
The shy girl opened up looking back, but she did so with tears running down her cheeks, which she tried to stop. But they just keep coming. Tears of joy. Tears of appreciation. Tears of second chances.
“The Luke Commission has taken good care of me ever since they found me. I am thankful they came to my school that day,” she said. “The sores on my face are almost gone.”
Watching her step-daughter improve and have hope for the future, Londiwe’s step-mother has transferred her HIV care to the Miracle Campus, too.
Also, Londiwe’s grandmother smiles when she visits the Miracle Campus: “She is better, and I am happy. We live big far from here, but we will come.” TLC pays so Londiwe and her grandmother can ride public transportation. It’s all part of TLC’s continuing care.
“God heard my prayers and sent TLC to find me,” added Londiwe.
And the tears come again, unbidden but cleansing.
by Janet Tuinstra for The Luke Commission team with eyes open for the sick and hurting