A grandmother’s HIV burden

Khanyi Ndabeni ndabenik@avusa.co.za

“I PRAY that God will keep me alive until my grandson is old enough to look after himself.”

These are the words of a 72-year-old Zwide grandmother, whose 13-year-old grandson is HIV positive.

The boy’s father died from Aids-related illness in 2000 and his mother followed two years ago.

It has been almost a year since the boy, who is on ARV treatment, has been in the care of granny. The two of them, as well as another grandchild who is now in matric, survive on granny’s pension of R1140 a month.

“The money is enough to buy the day-to-day necessities for the house, school fees, transport for his medication and to pay for both our funeral policies.

“There is no point in ignoring that one day, I will die or he will die before me. I need to stay prepared even though I do not want to even think of that day now,” she said.

When the boy arrived at his grandmother’s four bedroom house, he had a  skin problem and was undernourished. But granny, who is also an arthritis sufferer, made sure she feeds him and fetch his ARVs from a nearby clinic.

“I know people in his condition have to eat healthy, but I cannot afford to buy some of the stuff.  Here we  eat stamp and beans, steamed bread with tea and rice mixed with potatoes.

“Every month I must make sure I have those things and they can last me for about 30 to 31 days including oil and salt.

“I only  buy meat on pension day. But the boy looks healthy, he has picked up a lot of weight and the pills give him an appetite.

“Maybe if the department of social services can process his grant application which I had applied for a year ago, I would be able to buy him other things,” she said.

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