When David came to the CARE for AIDS program in January he was completely blind. His morale was low and as a result his health was waning rapidly. He’s 47 years old and he barely weighed 100 pounds when he joined the program. In addition to his sight loss and overall declining health, he was experiencing kidney failure. David has known his HIV+ status since 2012. His family has long since abandoned him. With no one to take care of him and without being able to see, he felt completely helpless and hopeless. This wasn’t the first time David had felt this way in the last few years, but this time, CARE for AIDS was there to intervene.
Back in 2013, election-related violence in Kenya was rampant. Tension was especially high in the slum regions where armed criminal gangs were fighting. David remembers it as a time of chaos and war in the slum where he lives. Thievery was common and David was the victim of a gang that wanted to steal from him. They severely beat him, hitting him hard over the head and damaging his legs so they could take what they wanted and he couldn’t chase after them. After about a year of healing and hospital visits, David thought he had finally made a full recovery from the beating. For 20 years, he had worked slaughtering chickens for different individuals and farms. After he recovered, he went back to doing this work again in 2014.
Unfortunately the worst was still yet to come for David. One day, on the way to work, his eyes started watering profusely. He had to leave work that day because he couldn’t see from his eyes watering so badly. Shortly after that, his eyes started swelling and his vision quickly got worse. He kept working until one day everything went completely black while he was on the job. David had become totally blind.
David spent the next two years at home unable to work, unable to pay rent, unable to buy food. His friends would occasionally show up at his house and buy him food for the week, but he didn’t like being a burden on others. He decided it would be best it he died. Twice David made an attempt to take his own life and twice God intervened so that he didn’t go through with it. During the first attempt David found a mosquito net to tie around his neck and hang himself from the ceiling banister in his home. He knelt down to pray one final time just before hanging himself and said to God, “I want to come home. I’m about to show up there, so please don’t be mad at me…”
While he was praying a friend knocked on his door. They had come buy to take him shopping for food and gave him additional money to pay rent.
Unfortunately, because of his inability to work, David quickly fell far behind on his rent. At one point his landlord tried to drive him out of his home by taking his door front door off the hinges so he would have no privacy or security. David had nowhere else to go, so he hung a blanket as a door and soon, deep in depression about his state, David devised another way to take his life. He planned to swallow termite poison before bed so he would die in his sleep. Not long after making this new plan, David's friends found him a new place to live, bought him food and paid for his first few months rent in his new home. After this intervention David decided against taking is own life and decided he wanted to keep on living.
Soon after the move his friends took him to the hospital for the first time in two years. It was 2016 and this was the first time he had been examined by a doctor since becoming completely blind. After his examination the doctor reported that neither of David’s eyes would likely see again and that, unfortunately, Davis wasn’t a candidate for surgery. David became frustrated, angry, hopeless and suicidal yet again.
A CARE for AIDS graduate client lived nearby and knew of David’s situation. She took Rose, the Health Counselor at the center in Githurai, to meet him. Rose recruited David into the CARE for AIDS program and quickly realized he needed medical attention. His face was swollen and he was incontinent and malnourished. Using the funds from the Medical Endowment Fund, Rose arranged for Geoffrey, the male champion in Githurai, to accompany David to the hospital.
The doctor drained fluids from David’s head and face to reduce his swelling and immediately prescribed medicine to treat David's kidney failure. He also began treatment for David’s eyes and, after doing a chest x-ray, he also prescribed medicine for pneumonia. Blood work was drawn and David’s viral load was over 2 million copies. It became clear that David had defaulted on his medication and his strain of HIV was now resistant to the ARV medication he had been taking. The doctor prescribed a new regimen of ARV medication for David to begin taking immediately to get the HIV virus under control and boost his immune system.
Thankfully, after being on treatment for over 2 months now, David is seeing great improvement. His weight is up to 135 pounds and he has regained control of his bladder. His stress has decreased and it is likely that his viral load has decreased, though it has yet to be tested again. Wanjiku, a neighbor who often helps to take care of David, makes sure that the food he gets from CARE for AIDS is prepared for him and she ensures that he takes his medicine daily.
David's greatest improvement, though, has been in his eyesight. While he still cannot see well, his left eye is seeing shapes, figures and colors. His right eye has difficulty in the light, but can also see better than before when he is indoors. He will be returning to the doctor again soon to have his viral load tested and, with his new ARV medication taking effect, his overall immunity will improve. This will allow his doctor to focus more closely on a plan for continued eye treatment.
David told us that he is no longer weak. He has more strength than he’s experienced in a long time. He boasted that he is now able to walk all the way to the market without anyone even holding his hand. Wanjiku, his neighbor, says he has improved greatly and is doing really well now. David admits that he still has challenges because he can’t work and has to be given everything he needs, but he’s happy that he is making progress and has new hope.
David attended his first seminar at Githurai center this month on ARV medication adherence and HIV prevention. He sat up front so that he could see the instructor and told us in detail all the practical information he learned that day.
Pray with us for David's continued recovery physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is on track to graduate from the CARE for AIDS program in Githurai this fall.
So far, CARE for AIDS has spent a total of $120 on David’s medical care. A small gift to CARE for AIDS can go a very long way in the life of an HIV+ client. If you would like to donate and empower our staff to walk alongside thousands of clients like David, visit our donation page here.