Sduduzo's story - Christmas 2003

Now I am happy, I have no more pain and no more fear!

- Sduduzo's mother tells his story and her own -

My name is Mpume and in July 2000, like everyone else, I was happy and confident about the future. I was 29 years old and the world was my oyster. I had moved from Mandeni to Durban to look for work. There I went to a party with some of my new friends and there I met a man who had all the qualities I liked. The next April I gave birth to his son. Sduduzo was a big chirpy baby - but his father never took time to care for him. On the contrary, he gave me the boot when he heard I was pregnant by him. He accused me of lying and that the child could be by any other man. I cried, but decided to take my life into my own hands as best I could. My dear little Sduduzo was healthy and grew splendidly. But I felt increasingly run down and had to cough all the time. In the meantime, I met another man who was like a good father to my son. Sduduzo and I moved in with him. He was so good to us and helped us deal with our problems. I got progressively worse and then I found out I was pregnant again. Buyi, my partner, took care of all of us. I am convinced that he really loved my son and me. As my pregnancy progressed, I went regularly to our local clinic for check-ups. I was just 30 years old, in the fullness of my life. That's when I was struck by lightning. A catastrophe: The nurse at the clinic had taken my blood. She offered me a stool and then told me that I was HIV positive, that my CD4 count was very low, that I had stage 3 AIDS and that I had pulmonary tuberculosis. I was devastated! What am I going to do now? What will happen to Sduduzo? What will happen to the baby in my womb? Will the clinic give me antiretroviral drugs? How long do I have to live? Is Buyi also HIV positive? Questions upon questions ran through my mind. My world was collapsing. I was helpless. The nurses at the clinic gave me TB medicine, it made me vomit. They gave me multivitamins and iron tablets, but they didn't really help either. They gave me painkillers and something for diarrhoea. I kept losing weight even though I was pregnant. Buyis and my son was born in August 2003. I was so weak that we couldn't get to the hospital in time. The baby was born at home, but he was also very sick and did not survive. Now I had to bury my little baby. Now it had become too much for Buyi with my two-year-old son and me. We moved to my mother's house where she lived with my brother. One night he came home late. He had got drunk and was in a terrible mood. My mother argued with him because he was drunk. He grabbed a knife and stabbed her right in front of us. I was far too weak to do anything. Sduduzo ran to mum who was lying on the ground. He yelled "Grandma! Oooomaaaa!" But it was too late. She was already dead. My brother kicked Sduduzo with his feet, his heavy boot smashed on Sduduzo's head, he flew through the air and fell to the ground unconscious. I can't remember what happened next, it was all a complete blur. The next thing I remember was sitting at Sduduzo's bedside in the hospital. His whole head was wrapped in bandages. He had a fractured skull and a ruptured eardrum. I kept asking myself why all this had to happen to us. I have never harmed anyone. Then Buyi came, he said I had better go back to Mandeni where my sister lives. I felt really bad because I had never spoken to Zama since I moved away from there. She had absolutely no idea of all my needs. Now I arrived at Zama's kraal where she lived with her unemployed husband and three children. Zama saw at first sight that she was not able to take care of Sduduzo and me. She didn't have a clue how to take care of someone with severe AIDS and she didn't even have enough money to feed her own children. I knew I was asking too much of her and her husband. Nevertheless, Zama did not abandon us: she took us to Blessed Gérard's Hospice.

Sduduzo was still very scared and in a lot of pain when he was admitted. The sisters took Sduzo and me in and took care of both of us. So I could still be with my hearty Sduduzo until God called me three days later. Now I am reunited with my mother and my tiny baby. Sduduzo is now being lovingly cared for at Blessed Gérard's Children's Home. His ear has stopped festering, he has many friends and he is laughing again. Now I am happy and I like to look down at him because he has a secure future in the hands of people who really care about him and others.

This story is true and Sduduzo is still with us (see photo), only the names of all the people except Sduduzo have been changed to protect them.