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BGR provides comfort, hope to terminally ill in Africa through ‘bucket of love’comment (0)

August 29, 2013

BGR provides comfort, hope to terminally ill in Africa through ‘bucket of love’

Susan Rodgers, a Baptist Global Response (BGR) partner in Lusaka, Zambia, distributes hospice care buckets as she visits the terminally ill in her city. Eight-year-old Alice was one of them.

“She was so sick,” Rodgers recalled, tears choking her voice. “She was HIV-positive with another illness on top of that. She couldn’t walk, and the sores in her throat made it difficult to eat.” 

Rodgers went with Alice’s caregiver to visit her a week before she died and to give her a baby doll. “The doll came with some medical instruments — a thermometer, a stethoscope. Alice was so excited, but she was too sick to hold it,” Rodgers said.  

Even though Alice passed away before Rodgers could get a bucket to her, Rodgers is still thankful for the opportunity the buckets give her to provide comfort to dying people and to share hope. 

“They get so excited that somebody cared enough to bring them a gift,” she said, noting that family and friends often shun HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. “Most times when we visit, the person is just thankful that we came and loved on them, shared with them and touched them. That means more than anything. 

“It is hard to go, but I have to go,” she said. “I can’t stop. It’s being the hands of Christ.”

The BGR hospice care buckets handed out by people like Rodgers are prepared by individuals and church teams in the United States and are sent to those in Africa suffering from terminal illnesses, primarily HIV/AIDS.  

Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than any other part of the world. Nearly 23 million people are living with HIV in the region. In 2012, 1.2 million people died from AIDS there and 1.9 million people became infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. The HIV prevalence rate now exceeds 20 percent in a number of countries.

BGR has found that sharing a five-gallon “bucket of love” may be the most effective way to open doors to share the love of Christ with these folks who are at death’s door. BGR has researched and worked with partner organizations to determine the best resources to include in the Hospice Kits. 

Items found in the bucket are helpful for the comfort of the patient as well as an aid to the caregiver. For example, drinking straws are provided as, many times, patients in the last stages of a terminal illness are unable to sit up to take medication or drink. Multivitamins are provided to bolster the immune system of the patient. Latex-free disposable gloves are provided to protect the caregivers from bodily fluids so that they do not contract HIV.

BGR has a goal of 10,000 buckets being filled by people in the United States in 2013. So far, 1,805 buckets have been filled this year.

For more information or a shopping list, visit www.baptistglobalresponse.com/projects/view/hospice_kits.  (BGR)

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