A beautiful writing from Lyndall following one of our most trying and profound days working in Khayalethu....
Daily we are experiencing levels of need and deprivation that leave us reeling. The woman dying of Aids who works three shifts and has no time to get to the clinic during the day for retro-viral drugs. I want to say to her, “Yes, but…..” as I see options and solutions. The more I listen the more I realize her entire life has been to just make it through the next day - food on the table for today, avoiding rape, just today, not being beaten up - just today.
Her focus is only on short term survival - there is no possibility of planning for a future. She cannot imagine a different future - she has no vision for one. Her soul is weary. She just wants to be at peace with herself and to die. She is 47 and she does not have much time left. Her need was to be at peace with her soul - not to be alive in this wretched life any longer than she has to. She is not interested in the retro-viral drugs. She doesn’t know how they work, if they work, if she cares if they do. She has never been to a dentist and has no teeth left. As they rotted due to poor nutrition and no possibility of dental services, they were pulled out. Not one basic need has been met since she was born - there was no adequate nutritious food - just enough to stay alive. There was no safety - she has just barely survived rapes and beatings many times. no-one has ever cared for her or valued her - and so life has taught her that her life is of no value to anyone, nor does anyone care. All around her people are themselves scrambling to exist. Instinctually she battles on to live, but hopes to die. This is not an unusual story - it is every day, one person after the next.
I consider my privilege - white, education, food, safety, nurture, value, love, intelligence. I don’t really think about it - it seems normal. Just as she doesn’t really think about her life - it seems normal. It would be easy to talk past one another - speak two different languages completely. It took a while, but finally we found her soul’s need - peace in death. It is what we offered her.
Our hearts break daily….