In early 2003 a conversation among hospice staff at Lifetime Care revealed a sincere concern for the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Hospice of Rochester applied to the Foundation for Hospices of Sub-Saharan Africa. [FHSSA.org] for a partner. We were twinned with Zululand Hospice of Empangeni, South Africa.
Lifetime Care staff and volunteers make annual visits taking medical supplies, clothing and toys for AIDS orphans, teaching materials for staff and a check.
Zululand Hospice is committed to serving the Umhlatuze Region by providing specialized palliative care for patients with progressive disease as well as bereavement support for their families. Funding the work is a challenge as the government does not fund hospice and most patients do not have medical insurance.
In 2010, Lifetime Care was one of 11 of the 92 partners of FHSSA who provided over $10,000 for their partner. Funds are raised by sales of craft items purchased in South Africa, framed paintings and pictures of animals taken during visits to game reserves, and donations of goods and money.
Despite the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, the stigma persists. Women and their children are sometimes banished and hospice staff finds them huddled in shacks on the edge of the village. Visits by hospice staff demonstrate that these people can be integrated into the life of the community. Women are an endangered species in Africa. They carry the enormous burdens of powerlessness, poverty, lack of education, and suffer all forms of physical and sexual abuse.
Sikula Ngothando, a children's hospice program has been added to monitor and care for the hundreds of orphans in the neighborhoods under the care of Zululand Hospice.
Jane Ashburner, Nursing Services Manager wrote, “It is an amazing feeling to know that there is friendship and support available from so far away, and I know I will draw strength from our association.”