Gillian came into steam bath, her limp and slightly spastic left hand were clearly evident. Here was someone like me. She was wearing a blue baseball cap which covered her shaved head. It’s odd but I like shaved heads on some women. Those with beautiful facial bone structure actually look stunning. This woman’s prominent cheekbones and large grey eyes made the shaved head beautiful. But I got the impression that this woman’s “scalp” was not a thing of choice. I wondered what had happened to her. Another motor car accident, I thought. Perhaps the blue cap hid surgical wounds like I had had. I smiled at her and the answering smile was broad and light. She had deep eyes that indeed seemed to dance.
“I’m deaf,” I said, “so I’m not all that good at conversations in here. I am without my Cochlear Implants. Would it be alright if I hold you under your chin? That enables me to pick up your vocal vibrations and I can tell what you are saying.”
“Yeah, sure,” she said. “I know who you are, Gaynor. I often see you in the gym.” She introduced herself and we chatted together. I was amazed to discover that she had a deaf sister who had married a deaf man and they has two hearing children. Glory be, what a coincidence!
“You are so like me,” I said emboldened by our conversation, “You limp and your hand is slightly spastic. What happened? Was it a car accident?”
“I wish,” she said, getting up to sprinkle some water in the furnace. Sitting down she said: “I have Cancer of the colon. I have been for five courses of chemotherapy and the chemo has killed off certain nerves which results in my limp and this hand that can do very little.”
Why? I wanted to shout at God. Why, dear All Powerful Lord, do you allow such a thing to occur? But there never is an answer to a question such as that, is there?
Later I was thinking of Gillian and this amazing gift of life that is entrusted to us all. This life of ours is so fragile. It is an inconceivably precious thing. Too often I tend to forget the value of each day and simply “schlomff” through life. That must stop! We must nurture life. I have found that the more one gives in life, so much is returned in countless different ways.
A wonderful example of receiving as a result of giving is Thembalethu. This is nothing to do with the ‘location’ named Thembalethu in George where I live, but is an incredible initiative situated in Addo, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Here, the members of three churches decided to collaborate their outreach programs to give hope to the impoverished and those in need. They were faced with a community that was battling severely with poverty, more than 50% of them were HIV positive, drug abuse and alcoholism was rife. Unwilling to be deterred by these factors, they established Thembalethu Aids and Edu Trust.
They take care of Aids victims in so many different ways. The Trust is involved in home visits, they give advice on nutrition, provide counselling and spiritual support. Bedridden patients are given much needed transport to the local clinic. In the past, patients were either traveling to the clinic in a wheelbarrow, or on a relative’s back! Because of this Aids support group, these people are now feeling empowered. They acknowledge that they are responsibility for themselves and their future.
A care program has also been established that helps orphans, vulnerable and disabled children appreciate their self worth and become productive members of society. Children are provided with pre-schooling, counselling, medical assistance, food, shelter, school uniforms, clothing, the list goes on and on!
My heart smiles at this. Thembalethu has provided musical instruments and a music teacher for a youth band. The aim of the band is to teach the community about Aids Prevention through music. That is the right approach to take with the youth. Teach them with something that they are passionate about – music!
The people behind Thembalethu Aids and Edu Trust are Givers. But in giving, I believe that they get so much back. A glistening smile from a child kitted out in their new school uniform, being enfolded by little arms in a hug, a half whispered ‘thank you’ from a hospital bed. The knowledge that they are making a difference.
Thembalethu means “our hope”.
And so, my “thembalethu” for you in 2015, is that your opportunities to give be countless.
May you live life!
If you would like to learn more about the work of the Thembalethu Aids & Edu Trust watch this short video by clicking HERE!