See how you are helping to change the lives of children living with type 1 diabetes and HIV and AIDS orphans in South Africa.
The video below is footage from our recent visit to the South African Red Cross Integrated HIV and TB programme in KwaZulu Natal.
Nomfundo Mgoboza (left) is just 12 years old and has already buried both her parents. She now lives with her grandmother in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa.
After a bout of pneumonia, Nomfundo was assigned a Red Cross volunteer, Bongiwe Mkhize. It was not long before they became great friends and with support from Bongiwe, Nomfundo agreed to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing. After finding out she was HIV positive, she went on anti retroviral treatment, which has made her feel much stronger.
In addition to this, the Red Cross also arranged a free school place for Nomfundo, and provided her with a school uniform.
“It makes me happy to be at school as before I was sick and could not come. When I am grown up I want to be a psychologist,” said Nomfundo. “I wish the Red Cross could help more children so they can also go to school like me”.
James and Thomas’ Story
The Fox family’s lives changed dramatically when both Thomas and James were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four days apart. Louise Fox tells her story:
When James was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes we were devastated and frightened for his future. We wondered how we would cope, as his brother Thomas already had coeliac disease. Whilst James was in hospital, we began learning about the condition and how to give James injections. The thought of him having injections for the rest of his life broke our hearts.
Whilst James was in hospital I had a chat with my dad to see how James’ siblings were and he commented on how Thomas seemed to be thirsty quite often. Knowing this was a symptom of type 1 diabetes, I feared the worst and decided to test my other children’s urine. James was discharged on Sunday and the following day I tested my other children. Eleanor’s urine was fine but I was absolutely horrified to see that Thomas had a high glucose content in his urine. I was devastated all over again because I knew what would happen next.
Thomas’ diagnosis affected him very badly. He was so upset that he had coeliac disease and now type 1 as well. Thomas is a very intelligent, confident boy but he became quite withdrawn, even depressed. I tried to explain that although it was going to be hard, it was something we could manage. He said “I can’t keep injecting for the rest of my life, it’s not fair”. It changed so much in his life; he could not go to his friends’ houses, because he needed to be with someone who understood and knew how to treat a hypo [dangerously low blood glucose]. We noticed at home he didn’t talk much, and he always cried when it was time for an injection.
As their mum and carer, to date, I don’t think I have fully accepted their condition. It frightens me and what the unpredictability of the condition can do from one day to another. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic lifetime illness that can have severe consequences if not managed.
We are now three years on from Thomas and James being diagnosed and yet it isn’t any easier. It’s like balancing their lives on a weighing scale, unfortunately they are both very unstable having regular hypos and high blood glucose readings. What’s more worrying is that, on occasions the boys seem to have no hypo awareness. I can routinely check them and find they are actually having a hypo.
My health has suffered as a result too. I don’t sleep well anymore. I keep my bedside light on and set my alarm to wake me up twice in the night to check the boys blood glucose levels in case they are having night-time hypos, as we worry their awareness of dropping low isn’t that strong. Waking them from a deep sleep and making them eat glucotabs is a really hard thing to do. The diabetic team have stressed its important that I get rest, but I worry so much they could slip into a coma in their sleep. I really hate their condition with a passion and could sit and cry for hours for them.
Our family’s life has changed dramatically. The boys get very angry and upset from day to day. They feel it is very unfair and I try to help them through hard times. Every time we go out we have to have medical equipment with us, you simply can’t go out without it, even if it’s for a five minute walk with the dog. Life is so different now.
The cure would be the most amazing thing. Not just for my boys but for all sufferers. This disease is frightening and can have severe consequences if not treated correctly. I am in constant fear for their lives it would mean the world to us for a cure to make them healthy again. Thomas and James are an absolute inspiration. They know they have a life threatening illness but manage to keep going. I do think they look out for and support each other which is lovely to see. Just a few days rest from living with this condition would help so much, but there is no time off from type 1.