Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Another little piece of my heart

To help the Arise team be both purposeful and efficient, we have created some policies and procedures for us all to follow. This means that any team member is able to help a child or guardian who comes to the office, which includes being able to respond objectively rather than emotionally. This is an important part of working in this environment, as it helps us to treat people fairly and use our resources in the best way.

Arise volunteers who work in the office

Nonetheless, there are times when particular people or situations melt your heart. In that moment you have to decide whether to follow the usual guidelines or do something different. I often pray in these situations because it can be very difficult to determine the best way forward. Will giving extra help create dependency or lead to empowerment? Do I want to help because it will make me feel better, or is this a real injustice for which we can advocate? 

One of the children who came to the office to collect school shoes

One young man in Arise has broken my heart a bit this week. He is a double orphan (which means both his parents have died), who has been raised by his grandmother. He is 14 years old but during this short time has suffered a lot. Last year he was admitted to hospital and treated for HIV, until they realised he was HIV negative and then instead treated for TB. Of course, there would be outrage in the UK if a misdiagnosis occurred and people would certainly be held to account. That doesn’t happen here in Zambia; things just continue as they are. When this young man recently came to the Arise office, I didn’t recognise him because he is now so thin. He has recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. 

Although I don’t know him particularly well, this young man always seems cheery despite his circumstances. He has received a referral for an assessment and treatment at another hospital, so came to the Arise office with his uncle to ask for help with transport money. Arise doesn’t usually help with healthcare costs, because our support is primarily focused on education and discipleship, but occasionally we will help with more serious medical appointments. We set priorities for the majority but sometimes feel compelled to look at individual cases with extra compassion. There are likely to be many grey areas ahead for this young man’s situation. Will he receive an accurate diagnosis? How much will potential treatment cost and for how long will it be needed? How should his family contribute? Will support be sustainable?

Resting in the Arise office

This week an elderly gentleman who I have met many times now also visited the Arise office. He is almost blind and lives alone. He has a grand-daughter living nearby but he isn’t the primary caregiver. This means he is not eligible to be accepted into Arise, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to help him. We welcome him our weekly guardians’ meetings and he is one of the most regular attendees. Occasionally he will ask if we can spare him some food. When I talked to him about how he manages for food, he said that people give it to him out of pity. My heart breaks for this elderly gentleman too. He shows such positive character despite not being able to see, and consequently, work. Although it doesn’t strictly follow our protocol, we have arranged to visit him in his home to see if there is any appropriate way to help further.

Arise guardians gathering for a meeting

It can be extremely hard to know what to do to help people who are struggling because their problems can seem insurmountable. We sadly have to learn not to say yes to every single request because we wouldn’t be effective, and it wouldn’t be financially viable. However, sometimes being affected by other people’s pain means we don’t lose sight of the purpose of what we are doing. I believe that when we pray, God can lead us in what to do. The Bible says we should loosen the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free and then the Lord will guide us (Isaiah chapter 58).

Little visitors to the office who make me smile

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