Tiny (right). (Photo: Jon Hrusa)
My name is Tiny. I am 56 years old, and I am the founder and manager of the Badirammogo Caregivers organization in Mogajane village, Rustenburg, North West Province, South Africa. Badirammogo, which means “working together,” has been in this community since 1997.
Our mission at Badirammogo is to help sick, elderly, and disabled people and to provide follow-up services to people infected with HIV and tuberculosis. We also assist children who have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. There are 25 caregivers in Badirammogo who cover four villages.
Before Badirammogo was founded, people often became sick and died without ever visiting the health clinic. Today, our caregivers go to the homes of sick people and encourage them to go to the clinic for testing and treatment. We educate those in the community on the importance of being tested for HIV and TB – and when people test positive for either one, we visit them every day to monitor them and ensure they take their medication. (In fact, we visit TB patients every day for six months to ensure they finish their medication courses.) We also help to find HIV-positive patients who have been “lost to follow-up” – meaning they have missed their health clinic appointments for the last three months and have defaulted on their antiretroviral treatment.
We believe in doing all we can to help. We bathe people who are sick. We organize food donations for those who can’t afford to eat – especially those living with HIV, for whom proper nutrition is very important. We also work with children and provide school uniforms for those that have been orphaned by HIV. We help HIV-positive children to get medication, grants, and birth registrations.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the South Africa Department of Health have trained Badirammogo caregivers on basic HIV/AIDS management, infant and young child feeding, formation of support groups, and the best ways to manage childhood illnesses. The Foundation has also supported us with several in-kind donations that help us to do our work; they gave us money to buy furniture and provided us with computers. We have also received a refrigerator, a stove, medical supplies, and a fleet of bicycles.
Bicycles for the Badirammogo Caregivers. (Photo: Jon Hrusa)
My staff is very excited about the bicycles. Previously, caregivers had to walk long distances between the homes of our clients. With the bicycles, they will be able to travel faster and provide help to more people each day.
Our next goal is to establish a hospice center for sick and elderly patients who are unable to care for themselves at home. Our local chief has given us the land already; we must simply raise the money to build the center.
Badirammogo’s work is making a difference here. Since we began monitoring HIV and TB treatments, fewer people are dying. I am very, very impressed with the support that the Foundation has provided and I am grateful for all they are doing to help Badirammogo and this community. I don’t even have the words to express my thanks!