Though it is 3am, Carlos Giua cannot sleep. The coordinator of Rubatano Home Based Care (RHBC) in Gondola, Mozambique spends many nights awake. His wife, Pascua, laments her husband’s constant inability to rest. “But how can I?” Carlos responds. “There is so much for which I must pray.”
Eight miles from Carlos’ house in Gondola, a woman named Amelia also wakes early. Her husband passed away nine months ago from AIDS. She knows his killer is returning soon for her. She feels deep pain, but more from the soul agony of knowing she will soon leave four young children behind than from the physical trauma of the virus on her body. Death weighs heavily on her mind. Though she has watched many people die, Amelia often wonders, “What will it be like? Will I die in great pain?” Each week she is visited by an RHBC nurse who helps to ease her pain.
Deeper still inside Gondola, 5-year-old Joalinho wakes to his baby nephew’s cry. Joalinho’s 17-year-old sister, Dorcas, rises to pick up her baby. Joalinho watches them, wondering if they will have enough food today. His 2-year-old sister, Maria, is peaceful and sleeping beside him. When she is afraid, Joalinho tells Maria things aren’t so bad. But in many ways they are. Both children contracted HIV from their mother who died after contracting it from their father. Dorcas has the virus, too, and is hoping to protect her son from it by feeding him formula instead of breast milk. After their parents died, the family moved with their grandparents into a pair of small mud huts. RHBC helps the family navigate the chaos of ARV medication and supplements their food.
Fully awake now and in the community, Carlos stands in the pale sunlight surveying the land before him. It is bare, but he can see the care center as if it were right there in front of him. Smaller structures have been built in the area: a temporary meeting house and storage shed, a well, a chicken coop, a toilet. Gardens are ready to be plowed. But the care center, he says, must come next. They cannot continue to grow without one. Carlos knows his current funding ends this year. But God has been faithful in providing 37 community volunteers who love Jesus Christ and a constantly growing list of 500 patients and orphans that trust RHBC with their lives, he says. “And He wouldn’t bring us this far to abandon us.”
“What a day it will be when the care center opens!” he adds. He can already see the hustle and bustle. Food, medication, care, pre-school, ARV support groups and so much more will happen here. He says he can also hear prayer: lots of it. Fervent voices rising to heaven reaching the heart of the Father. “What a day that will be.”
Returning home at the end of the day, Carlos is beaming. His shoes seem to have little springs in their soles and his tired eyes are twinkling. It’s likely he won’t sleep again tonight, he knows, but how can he bear to stay in bed when he can be awake sharing life with his Father?
Ginna Hardie is a nurse from the USA and a member of the Hands at Work in Africa Footprints team.