Palliative care Our small hospice provides 10 beds for sick children and 3 family rooms for widowed mums to share with their children. Last year, we cared for over 100 patients; almost 50% of these were children. Children just like Raj Kumar, who was found living rough in the bush after his parents had died. Raj was just 9 years old when we found him. He’d never had the chance to be a child and had spent most of his young life caring for his mum. He was emaciated when we found him, and when the HIV test came back as positive we weren’t surprised.Raj was initially afraid of us, but gradually he began to respond to our care in the Hospice. He started taking anti-retroviral medication to control the HIV. Mary came in every day to feed him by hand, encouraging him to eat as much as possible. With a good diet and supplements, Raj’s health improved quickly. Within three months, Raj was able to join other children living with HIV in our home at Shanti Nivas. It’s a joy beyond words to see how Raj has changed - he’s unrecognisable now compared to when we found him. He loves sports and running around with his friends and the sadness in his eyes has finally disappeared.
Of course we experience loss too, as some of our children succumb to this devastating disease. At least we are able to make the end of their lives as comfortable as possible and the children know that they are loved. It’s the hardest thing in the world to lose a child, and particularly difficult for other children in our care who need counselling to overcome their grief and fears when they lose a friend.