John Mbonde was two days late (Wednesday, 20 February
rather than Monday, 18 February) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania bringing me the
English transcripts of the interviews with AIDS patients and caregivers to send
to a Video Production Company in the USA by e-mail. Certainly this was no
problem since we were in a good time frame for the overall project. Now in Paul
Harvey fashion I would like to share "the rest of the story…"
When John Mbonde said good-bye to the video production
team at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam on early Wednesday afternoon, 13
February he went on to a Communications Meeting at the Bishops’ Conference
Office. Then he returned to his home in Msimbazi to be immediately told that his
35-year-old niece Theresa (the daughter of John’s younger brother who passed
away some years ago) had just died of AIDS. So for the next three days John was
totally involved in the wake, funeral and burial of his niece. As he told me the
sad story I couldn’t hold back my tears. Another of his nieces in her 20s had
died of AIDS in January. So John continues to carry many family burdens.
Theresa never married. She had six children by different
fathers. Some months ago Theresa went to PASADA (the Catholic Archdiocesan AIDS
Clinic) where she tested positively for AIDS. The six children aged 3 to 17 are
now being cared for by their grandmother (John’s sister-in-law). As the older
living brother in the African extended family John has a special responsibility
for his nieces and nephews. He plans to have all six children tested at PASADA
and follow up the best he can. The family continues to pray for and remember
Theresa whom in the African culture we call one of the "living dead" (and
eventually a "recently deceased ancestor").
So that is "the rest of the story."