Sheba visited a family yesterday - if you can call it a family.
It was 12 PM. Hot as we get in mid October. The woman of the house - we will call her Vanita - was sitting, trying to coax some fire out a small handful of wood.
The house - a small shed of rusting corrougated iron sheeting. A tiny shack that they have to pay a monthly 'rent' of Rs. 600 for!
Vanita looks like a skeleton. Her 6 children are partly in the village - and the youngest 4 are here. She has HIV as does her husband. Last week we found out the youngest 2 girls have HIV as well.
Vanita is on TB medication - but has not been gaining weight. She sat trying to make the morning meal - at 12 PM. Sheba tried to sit down beside her - but jumped up because of the many black lizards. Vanita laughed: "you should see the rats we have here"
Their shack is at the edge of a 'new' slum. It is only a stone's throw away from our house. Two stones throws from the JSK centre. It is near some scrub brush. Somewhat pleasing to the eyes since there is a bit of green - but not to the nose: the entire area serves as the toilet for the slum. There is a constant stench of decaying faeces.
Our nurses have been visiting this broken home every other day to give Vanita her TB meds. Her husband Harish is sodden with alcohol. He is angry at Vanita and the world. The children...
What are the options for this family? We meet and pray with them. We talk with them. We have members of local churches who are praying for them and have donated food from their tables so that this family can be helped through this current crisis (see: A handful of rice).
Will Vanita pull through? Will the kids grow up with hope? What about those who we now know have HIV. Who is going to look after them?
And her husband Harish. What life for him? Will a heart change take place in his life? Though he is not as skeletal as Vanita he also is sick with HIV disease.
So many questions - so few answers. But we have to press on.
How many more Vanitas are there? How many more Harishs?