Saturday, September 19, 2009

Discovering your voice

'God is merciful and will help us.'
Let me tell you Josephine's story. Living in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC, her life has been surrounded and affected by the terrible conflict that has torn apart that whole region. She and her husband Celeste made the difficult decision to flee becoming refugees only when their oldest two children and severalfamily members were killed in an outbreak of violence. Arriving destitute in Uganda they lived in a refugee camp close to the DRC border till they were able to get jobs and begin to rebuild their lives. Josephine was working as a teacher and they all learned the local language. Their family knew peace for the first time only for Josephine to become ill with cancer. They took her to several hospitals until they reached Mulago cancer centre - in severe pain, distrssed and desperate. Celeste and the two children slept under her bed as they waited for news of treatment and for support from the UN High Commisssion for Refugees (UNHCR.
What could we do to support Josephine and her family? What helps them to cope with this new tragedy? Her pain is now controlled and treatment for her cancer started.We have found translators so we can listen to her worries and concerns. UNHCR have found accommodation for the family in Kampala though the fees are still to be paid to allow her chldren to go back to schhool. She talks of her worry for them then says with calm assurance and grace 'God is merciful and he will help us'
This year's World Hospce Day is about 'Discovering your voice' - telling the storeis of those who are suffering and listening to what they are saying. A recent presentation reportered in the African Palliative Care Association newsletter of an African palliative care patients 'bucket list'. What would and do people ask for from those who will listen?
1. freedom from pain and symptoms
2. enough decent-quality food
3. family and community support
4. secure future for their children
5. adequate resources to address their illness
6. scale-up so that such care would be available to everyone suffering in a similar way in Africa.
Dr Faith Mwangi Powell

Let us listen to Josephine and to many others. Also let us be humbled and inspired by the courage and faith we are pivileged to see so often in patients and families. Thank you for your support for our team in Mulago and for so many others who are seeking to work to make a real difference. It has been so encouraging to meet with many of you these past 2 weeks and share in the work of Cairdeas.
One final comment from Josephine; 'Will people in your country be interested in my story?

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