Home Based Care: Beyond Medical Intervention
Kathleen and Dr. Al Hartmann and their Home Based Care team have been serving numerous communities of rural Swaziland for the past 15 years. Within a 60-mile radius, the Hartmanns and the HBC team from the Good Shepherd Mission Hospital have attempted to reach as many people as possible with compassion and care. They provide various services, ranging from medical care and referral, to nutritional support and financial aid. The team works closely and directly with those who receive the services and continues to communicate with the recipients for further services, update, and feedback.
A story of impact, by Kathleen Hartmann
Meet Mkhulu Jeje and Lungile.
They are among the many people we serve in this poor and remote community of Swaziland. Mkhulu lives here with his 13-year-old granddaughter Lungile, whom he has cared for since she was an infant upon her parents’ death.
The challenges of life weigh heavily upon Mkhulu. He is old, malnourished, and clinically blind due to cataracts, which makes a challenging life even more difficult. He and his granddaughter live in a collapsing mud and stick hut in rural Swaziland. Along with its leaking thatched roof, they have poor ventilation, no access to running water, and few pieces of furniture. When we visited we found a bed frame without a mattress, which Lungile sleeps on and a grass mat laying on the dirt floor, which Mkhulu was lying on when we arrived.
The morning of our first visit, we found out that young Lungile had not had anything to eat before going to school. This was not unusual – they often went without meals. Mkhulu’s age and health challenges made earning money impossible and meeting basic needs a daily challenge. Their sources of food are unreliable and they survive on very little. They sometimes receive rations of cornmeal or rice from the World Food Program or collect vegetables that grow wild in the fields around their community, but these sources are never guaranteed. The school sometimes provides food for Lungile, but this too is inconsistent.
When we arrived, Lungile was on her way to grind some corn kernels that would be their dinner that evening.
Lungile is a hardworking student and is doing well in school. Mkhulu is proud of her. He shows us the candle that she studies by at night. There is no electricity in their community.
We were so happy to be able to provide them with a solar powered lantern. It will be especially helpful now that the winter season is coming and the sun sets as early as 4:30 pm.
We were also able to provide other essential resources, including an emergency food pack to help with short term nutrition and some money to ensure that Mkhulu could visit the hospital to have his eyes examined. Our hope is that he can have the cataracts removed to ensure a higher quality of life.
When we returned a few days later, we found Mkhulu lying on his grass mat on the dirt floor in the dark. We helped him up and out of the hut. And while one of the members of our team sat and spoke with him, the others were busy inside ‘installing’ new beds for both Mukhulu and Lungile! When he stepped back in, he couldn’t see what we had done.
We led him to the new mattress and once he sat down, the smile on his face said it all!
During our second visit we met with the Rural Health Motivator (RHM) to talk about Mkhulu and Lungile’s circumstances and to encourage their support in getting Mkhulu to the hospital. We will also be contacting another organization called Young Heroes to receive more support. Started by a Peace Corps volunteer, Young Heroes help many orphans with education, nutrition, health care, training, and support.
We hope that Mkhulu and Lungile will be warm and comfortable.
Home Based Care is more than medical intervention, it is really following CMMB’s mission of believing in a world where every person is valued, and where health and human dignity is shared by all.