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Update September 2014
Written by Rebecca Stewart:
Gcebile died at midnight on the 29th August 2914. She was just 27 years old and left behind 5 children (2 sets of twins and a son). We were unable to show in the film the incredible compassion and extraordinary spirit that was Gcebile. She was in the TB hospital far longer than most other patients and she spent that time trying to make sure that other patients - many of whom she watched die - had somewhere safe for their children to go. Janine Maxwell, who now looks after Gcebile's youngest twins, took all of those children in.
Gcebile was one of the most difficult, kind, stubborn, strong and brave young women I've ever had the privilege to meet. It is not ok that she lost this battle.
Some people refer to us as "vultures" - they tell us we should not exploit the most vulnerable. But Gcebile, more than anyone wanted a voice and it was never my job to deny her that.
On the 19th July 2013 she wrote to me: "I know why you are doing this job. Those who don't have anyone to tell their story - you have given them the chance to be heard. You listen."
So goodnight sweet Gcebile. Know that you will never be forgotten and your bravery stands out as an example to others ... But if you were touched by the film and if you feel that this shouldn't have happened - then please add your voice to the MSF petition and the global call to end deaths from essentially non-fatal diseases.
Gcebile - whilst I loved her like a sister - is just the human face of a much bigger story.
Update July 2014
We received this report today:
"I met with Nokubegha today. She came back to the Mission after we transported her to Moneni for her check up. She tells me she is now 14 years old and in grade 5. She is doing well in school and said she is very happy. She is a very social young woman with a good grasp of English. She is excited about being part of the Teen Club which will meet again on Saturday. Here is a picture of her taken today on the Mission."
Viewers donations are helping to ensure that Nokubegha receives the nutritious food that she needs to help her recover and stay healthy. Funds will also help to pay for her continued education.
Update May 2014 - Rebecca Stewart visited Swaziland and this is her report:
Nokubegha is now living with her extended family, she is attending school and being treated by the Caprinri ministries. We have a meeting with the ministries later this month, where we aim to establish what level of support we will be able to offer her with the limited donations we have. We hope to be able to supply a monthly food parcel for her for a year as well as school supplies and clothing. We will have a further update after the meeting has taken place.
Melusi was ok and very happy to see us. He finished school in July. Because he finished his education, Pastor Justice's church stopped giving him any support. This meant that he had to move out of the one room he used to share with Nokubegha and now lives further down the same road, closer to the river. In his new one-roomed place he has no running water and no electricity.
He is working in a factory to try and save the money to do a mechanic's course. He last saw Nokubegha in January and misses her - so was clearly delighted to come and see her with us. It's very difficult for him to get there by public transport because it is so far and so remote.
Viewers' donations will be used to pay for his mechanics course for the year. Donations will enable him to move back to his old house and have water and electricity, which will be much more conducive to study.
He wants Nok to come and live with him but he knows it's not practical. He said he is working during the day and wants to study in the evenings (the course is in the evenings) so Nok would be on her own most of the time - at least where she is she has company.
Gcebile is not in a good way. She is very thin and depressed. She cried when we first arrived. I gave her the money pledged to her from viewers. I asked her what she wanted and she said she wanted the money so she could send people out to get things for her so that's what I gave her. I also bought her a big bag of things like Vaseline body lotion and nice smelling shower gels, a couple of fluffy towels and some chocolate bars - she is quite a girly girl and I just thought it might make her feel a bit better. Unfortunately there is not much more we can do to help her, we will continue to monitor her progress.
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