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HEAL Africa provides holistic care for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo
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Interview with Felicien Maisha
HEAL Africa CAP Nurse

"I remember that my family played a major role in that inspiration. In my village, there was no doctor. The nurse was that person who could take care of every patient in the local health center; my mother was one of those persons who consulted regularly in this nurse?s office." recalls: Felicien Maisha

Interview with Felicien Maisha with the HEAL Africa Children?s AIDS Program Nurse

-What inspired you to become a nurse?
I don?t know exactly, but I remember that my family played a major role in that inspiration. In my village, there was no doctor. The nurse was that person who could take care of every patient in the local health center; my mother was one of those persons who consulted regularly in this nurse?s office. I saw how she was helped by the nursing skills. The nurse was one of the most important people in the village. All of that inspired me to study nursing after bio chemistry in the secondary school. I thought I could help my community and my family more in this way.

-What inspired you to work in HIV AIDS?
After working one year in the HEAL Africa hospital in different departments, a new program for children infected by HIV began, called the CAP program. I felt a sort of calling for serving my organization in that project, you know nursing means ?take care of?? and I believed that people who need more care are children and if they are infected from HIV/AIDS pandemic, it means they need more care than anyone. I thought again that people living with HIV/AIDS need more attention than anyone as they face every kind of challenge like stigma and discrimination in their own community.

-Can you tell us about the CAP program?
CAP stands for Children?s AIDS Program; it?s a medical program taking care of children born to HIV positive mothers. In this program we are trying to give hope to the hopeless in the local context. A few years ago, it was not possible to think that a baby born HIV positive could live more than a year after his birth. ARVs that children are getting with CAP program seem to be a miracle by many. And I believe so myself.

-How many children do you see everyday?
25 to 30 per day. We are following over 500 on a regular monthly basis.

-What gives you hope when you see so many hard things every single day?
I have hope by what I can see and what I can perceive in mothers? eyes when they see how the health of their beloved kids is improving through our daily work.

-Can you tell us about the Home Palliative Care program?
The home palliative care is a program that accompanies those at the last stage of their life when doctors are not able to give a right response to what patients need from them. We visit also people living with HIV/AIDS in their home as they really need such refreshing visits when most of the people around them try to abandon them. In this program, we try to be closer to the patient, to listen to him, to take care in our own way of preparing the patient for death and giving hope as we can to those without hope praying together sharing ?some word of GOD?

-How do you partner with local associations in Home Palliative Care?
Local associations help us much as we are not able to see every one of those needy patients. The program provides some funds for local associations as this can help them to organize home visits. We keep supervising what they do, providing technical advice and training for those involved in home visitation.

-Can you tell us a story of a home visit you did recently?
Some times a home visit challenges me. Last time I went to Kituku for a home visit , I was asked to find a solution for a widow who had 2 HIV positive orphans in her charge. The rain was falling and leaking in all the night in their small house. We tried to discuss about this hard issue and we ended by a prayer.

-Can you tell us a story of an expert patient who has helped other patients?
I know more than one expert patient who is helping other patients. But I know one who just helps others like a passion. Others believe she is a health professional because every time she comes for a home visit she asks every kind of friendly questions. She provides advice about water and sanitation, nutrition and ARV adherence. Every one of our patients likes to hear from her as she testifies that herself she is HIV positive. She helped and she is helping more people than any other one.

-I hear that you?re pursuing a Masters? degree in English by distance learning. What are you currently studying and how will it help you in your job?
I? m studying pastoral community care and HIV/AIDS. It?s a good and great opportunity that I was given to follow such an innovative and original program in Limuru near Nairobi. We are prepared to lead change in our local community. Change related to health and development, change about community transformation. We are trained to handle efficiently the issue of HIV/AIDS in our community and better involve more of our churches and church leaders in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. What we are learning is related to my job as the self audit of practice is a part of the course program and HIV/AIDS is a key word of the whole training.

-What differences do you notice between HIV programs in Kenya and Congo?
Not a great difference, but in Kenya the church is more involved, they have more funds for HIV programs, more NGOs are involved and even the Kenyan government is more involved than the Congolese one.

-Why do you like working for HEAL Africa?
HEAL AFRICA is a transformation agent in this area. No one living in the East of DRC can argue about that. This is why when someone is one of those leaders of change, helping people to recover from different types of suffering, it?s a pleasure and an honor. I want to say that it?s very interesting for a team player to play in a team that always wins the game. HEAL Africa is one of them and actually I am one of its team players.

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