Samaritan Care Centre, South Africa
"I like to talk," says Zuziswe Matyunjwa. Her favourite topic is her own story. She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1999, then 48 years old. By 2003 she was so ill that she nearly died. She spent three months in hospitals for acute TB. From there she was admitted as a patient at the Samaritan Care Centre. Too weak to walk and with a CD4 count of only 15, she began treatment with ARVs. To this day, she takes her medication every morning and every evening at 6 o'clock. Her life now is in a completely different place, so different that most people would not hesitate to call her story a miracle.
While still a patient at the Centre, "Zuzi" became strong enough to begin to help out, first with cleaning and laundry tasks, later also with patient care. Today she stays with her friend, Patience Nomonde, in a shack not far from the Centre and has joined the Samaritan staff.
One of her special contributions as a caregiver is her role as an example of how to live positively with HIV.
"If you want to survive, you must wake up early, take your medication, go to the shower, exercise, and stay busy -- and don't stress, or HIV will take you out. Tell HIV ‘I'm not your friend'."
These instructions of hers become especially convincing in conjunction with her high level of energy and her determination to live life to its fullest. In the picture to the right, Zuziswe poses for the camera with two of her neighbours - preceded by a lot of laughter.
Zuziswe has no tolerance for people who refuse to find out about their HIV status. Testing, she knows, is the first step toward "jumping over the grave." Five years from now, she sees herself still as a caregiver at the Samaritan Centre, "using whatever God gives me."
Prepared by: Office of Resource Development
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