...but you can change the world for one person
I was told that out of the 50 - 60 children I was living and working with, around 40% of them had been tested positive for HIV, but the estimated number of sufferers was actually around 60% as not all of them had been tested. This alone blew me away, without even considering other illnesses such as bilharzia, infections, wounds and even the number of kids who just had the common cold!
Medical problems was only one of the issues; the electricity and water cutting out every day, not enough food to go around all the time, finding funds for 60 kids to go to school. I was just overwhelmed... How could I ever make a difference here? And if I did, would the problem not just come back once I’d left?
However, I thought I’d give it a shot anyway, and it paid off. I went to a local government hospital and talked to some doctors who were willing to come to the centre, speak to the children and see if there was anything they could do. Well... The children had problems - at least 4 had bilharzia, another 6 or so had various infections, many had open wounds from football or general playing around, but the main one which shocked me was one child, only around 15 years old, had syphilis. He hadn't told anyone and he'd been in excruciating pain for ages. The doctor went away and a few days later came back with free medicine for the children and an injection for the last... I was horrified. The injection instantly made him cry and he couldn't move for 20 minutes. He eventually walked out not saying a word and I just hoped that, despite being so young, he would understand why it had been done.
About a week later the boy finally plucked up the courage to come talk to me. He walked up, smiled, point to his bum cheek (where the injection had been) and gave me a huge hug with an even bigger smile - and I've never felt so happy.
You can't change the world, but if you can at least make one person’s world better, then that makes all the difference.