Reaching out to the terminally ill

Patients at Tshepiso Home were moved
to tears when community members
surprised them with gifts.
(Image: Joanna)

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• Fidel Radebe
Department of Health
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Nosimilo Ramela

The terminally ill patients at Tshepiso hospice, west of Johannesburg, recently received a generous donation of television sets, radios, books, pool tables, chess boards and other games to help keep them mentally stimulated and entertained while they rest and build up strength.

The donation was made by the nearby community of Mohlakeng.

Tshepiso Home’s patients and caregivers were filled with joy and excitement when they were paid a surprise visit by community members, who came in carrying boxes filled with the gifts.

“We are overwhelmed with emotion,” said Matlako Nhlapo, a caregiver at the hospice. “The patients can get quite bored here, which frustrates them and it affects their health. We are just a small community care centre and we have very little funding, so we can’t afford to get extras for the patients. What the community has done for these patients is really incredible.”  

Tshepiso Home was started by a group of women from the Mohlakeng community who wanted to help sick people whose families were struggling to provide adequate care.

“We were unemployed and started working as volunteers going to different homes in the community, helping to care for the terminally sick. We then came together and started this home where we provide care for people,” said Tumi Madumo.  

Madumo said the goods the community donated would go a long way towards improving the lives of the patients. “Some patients end up depressed because they are simply bored and they give up on life. With all the stuff the community brought, they will keep themselves busy and keep up with the outside world through the radio and television – they can even watch some movies and sport. This will really lift their spirits.”

Speaking on behalf of the community, Ntate Jacob Maleka said they decided to come together as a group and collect the items because they wanted to give back. “The people in here are our brothers and sisters, we wanted to do something to relieve them from their pain – we wanted to give them something to keep them entertained and let them know they are not forgotten.”

Maleka said they were encouraged by the women who started the hospice and wanted to do more to keep it running. “This is not a world-class hospice, but these ladies provide what I would call world-class care. We respect these ladies a lot. They stepped in and helped us as a community by caring for our fellow brothers and sisters. This is just the beginning – we want to do more to help this place and the people in it.”

Samuel Ntobela, a patient at the hospice, said seeing the community come in with all the gifts brought him to tears. “We sometimes feel so forgotten and frustrated without any entertainment or anything to distract us from our pain. What the community has done for us is incredible. God bless them.”

Nontethelelo Hendricks, who is also a patient, said having fun and entertaining things to do will change the environment of their home. “This is home for most of us, and having all these games will make it feel like a place of life and well-being. Not having much to do for most of the day made us feel like we were all just sitting and waiting for the inevitable. But now it will feel like a real home where people sleep, play, read books, or watch or listen to the news on television.

“We want to thank our community for breathing life into us.”