AsiaViews, Edition: 37/VII/December2010
Papua is listed as the province with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country. According to the latest data, about 134,55 per 100,000 of its population suffer from this fatal disease. The numbers in Papua are 14 times higher than the national average. Understandably, some feel quite hopeless about this condition. But one special hospice in Jayapura has given a bit of hope to the patients staying there. In that hospice, they are given hope, although some may not survive, but for the short time left in their lives they are given the utmost comfort and solace. Two weeks ago, correspondent Eka Nickmatulhuda spent time at the Surya Kasih Hospice in Jayapura and wrote a special report for Tempo English Edition.
OSIL barked merrily to greet three church activists who arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, about two weeks ago. The small dog followed them happily, as they climbed towards Surya Kasih Hospice. Situated on a hilly slope, not far from the main road of Waena, Jayapura, the small hospice?home-care facility?cares for several patients in the advanced stages of HIV/AIDS.
In their routine visit, the three guests gave the patients motivation as well as inspiring their faith. ?We don?t want the patients to feel they are being judged by saying this disease is because of their sins or a punishment from God,? explained Agustinus.
Brother Agustinus Adil OFM, who manages the hospice, never tires of letting the patients know that this disease is not related to morals, faith, or a ?curse from the spirits.? Rather, it is more of a social problem. Brother Agus?as Agustinus is called?is indeed firm in the way he manages this home-care facility. And, he demands that the patients be firm with themselves. ?There has to be a strong desire to heal this condition,? he said.
A strong desire, according to Agus, is the main requirement for admission to Surya Kasih Hospice. On average the AIDS patients that live there are already stadium 4. The activities that Tuesday evening were aimed at reinforcing the patients? spirits. The three church activists visited patients in their rooms and invited them to read the bible together.
In another corner of the yard, 10-year-old David, who says his full name is David Beckham, skillfully climbed a tall old mango tree. His mother, Maria, picked up the mangoes as they fell. ?Don?t throw them. Later the fruit will be ruined!? she shouted to remind David.
The extremely thin, 1.5-meter-tall woman could only shake her head watching the behavior of her youngest son. Mama David, as she calls herself, was infected with HIV by her husband whom she divorced in 2007. Maria did not want her husband?who was known as a womanizer?to take a second wife.
Cases like Maria?s are commonly heard. Unsafe sexual behavior is the main factor in the spread of HIV in Papua. The results of a survey on the AIDS epidemic conducted by the National AIDS Commission (KPAN) in 2006 provided evidence that the rise in cases of HIV/AIDS in Papua had reached the level of a general epidemic. This means that the disease is spreading quickly and widely in the same area. The main factor, 94 percent, is due to high-risk sexual relations.
Mazmur, 30, admitted that there is a good possibility that he contracted HIV when having sex with a commercial sex worker. This native Papuan was lying weakly in bed in one of the rooms of his parents? home. His body was pale, just skin and bones.
Brother Agus has not yet given him permission to stay at Surya Kasih Hospice. Besides being fully booked?currently six female and four male AIDS patients are being cared for there?Brother Agus believes it is better that he is cared for at home by his family for now. ?In that way, he can feel the love from his family, rather than only from the nurses,? said this native of Flores.
On the other hand, there is the condition of 18-year-old Magdalena. Until now, her parents do not know that she is being cared for at the hospice. She hopes to be able to go home at Christmas, but Brother Agus has not yet given his permission. His reason is that Magdalena?s home is too far in the interior so that access to medicine would be difficult.
Surya Kasih Hospice is not too large, but it feels comfortable because it is rather out of the way from the main road. There are six rooms. Four rooms are occupied by patients. Every room has two to three patients from different regions whose health conditions vary. Almost all of them are native Papuans. The patients who have been at the hospice for the longest time, on average have stayed more than eight months.
In order to rehabilitate their conditions, the hospice applies strict discipline. From the time to wake up, take medicine, bathe, eat, take medicine again, rest, eat lunch, do some light activities, drink milk, have an afternoon bath, eat dinner, take medicine and go to bed, everything is arranged in a highly disciplined way. These activities continue until the patient?s condition begins to improve.
However, the hospice does not want the patients to become dependent. For that reason, skills-training is provided so that eventually they can be independent. According to Agus, he sees high hopes for their lives still emanating from all the patients. The Brother?the term for a Catholic priest?added, the process of education and learning to be independent at the hospice, makes the patients not want to be dependent on other people. According to Agus, ?They have the spirit to start a new life.?
By: Eka Nickmatulhuda
Tempo No. 15/XI/08-14 December 2010 photo: Nickmatulhuda