The Hartmann’s have been serving in Swaziland for nearly two decades. Together with the home-based care team and staff at Good Shepherd Hospital, they deliver more than healthcare to those living on the peripheries. They bring love and hope and dignity. We recently received this letter from Kathleen and Al Hartmann in Swaziland.

We visited Sarah today. She is a 57-year-old woman who lives alone in a very rural area of Swaziland called Mambane. She lives in extreme poverty.

Two years ago, Sarah was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal cancerous tumor. Unable to get the treatment she needed in Swaziland, she was sent to South Africa for evaluation and treatment. This was supported by the Phalala Fund, which is a government funded project that helps get Swazi patients the essential lifesaving treatments and medicines they need that are not available in country.

Sara was very ill and spent more than a month in the South African hospital receiving treatment for her cancer.  When she returned to her rural homestead in Swaziland, alone, it was our palliative care team that stepped in to give her the support and care she so desperately needed.

Sarah stands with a member of the Home-Based Care team in Swaziland. Sarah has cancer.

Complications

Shortly after Sarah’s return, this got complicated. She found out that because she spent more than the permitted 30 days in South Africa without a visa, she is no longer able to return to the country. As a result, Sarah cannot attend important check-ups with the oncologist to see how her cancer is responding to the chemotherapy medication she is taking.

Together with our home-based care team, we are doing what we can to support Sarah. In spite of all the challenges, Sarah tries to remain positive. She takes good care of her mud house. She grows maize and vegetables to ensure she has food to eat. And although she is weak and ill, she continues to take the long walk to water, knowing she cannot survive without it.

A letter calling for prayers for Sarah in Swaziland who suffers from cancer.

We had the honor of spending time with her a few days ago. She shared her concerns and we listened, offering counseling and care. We also provided some relief in the form of medication for her physical symptoms. The team also brought an emergency food pack to give her some respite from trying to find enough food. We were also able to leave behind 20 liters of water, our attempt to give her a short break from walking the long distance under the heat of the Swazi sun.

A letter calling for prayers for Sarah in Swaziland who suffers from cancer.

Our interventions do not make up for the lack of access to the medicines and treatment she really needs, nor the expert support of an oncologist. But Sarah knows she is not alone. Sarah knows there are people who care.

Please keep Sarah in your prayers.

Thank you,

Kathleen