The Aftermath – South Africa

Thursday, May 1, 2008 |
Posted by admin
Categories: AIDS, HIV, South Africa
HIV/AIDS is changing the landscape of nations. This panorama is what local communities throughout many nations in Africa and Asia live with on a daily basis. Week after week a steady stream of loved ones, family members, neighbors, and friends are laid to rest because of AIDS. Fresh graves... these are fresh graves. The HIV infection rate in this province of South Africa is above 33% of the population. If these are the reported statistics, then certainly the actual numbers are much higher. One must understand that many of the rural poor do not get tested. They cannot afford to get tested, have limited access to health care systems, and face alienation if identified as having HIV. Better not to know...Often people die of complications due to AIDS, so their HIV status is never reported to the statisticians. A death certificate names the cause of death as something other than HIV/AIDS: pneumonia, TB, or any number of other opportunistic diseases that piggyback on top of the HIV virus. While surveying the graveyard, a guide explains that the mounds of dirt at the edge of the hill are in anticipation of the mass burials that will take place on the following Saturday. So many people in the community die of AIDS and AIDS related illnesses that the gravediggers need the week to dig enough graves to accommodate the bodies needing burial. Additionally, the economic survival of the community is in jeopardy - too many workers need time off during the work week to bury their loved ones. Saturday has become the designated burial day. All day, every Saturday, the local pastors and priests pay their final respects and their tributes to the deceased. All day, every Saturday, streams of people from the local villages repeat the grieving, the heart wrenching good-byes. The very fabric of community and family is ripped apart over and over again. Every Saturday in the burial rites these dear ones have to readdress the enemy head on. Murderer, robber, liar, and thief, Satan is disguised in the form of a virus. And just think: this is only one graveyard, in one village, in one province, in only one of the countries that is being ravaged by the monster, HIV/AIDS.