News / Africa

Ghana Ministry Helps HIV/AIDS Patients

A volunteer health worker retrieves blood sample for an HIV-AIDS detection test on a patient on 18 Jun 2008 in Noe, a city in Ivory Coast close to the Ghana border
A volunteer health worker retrieves blood sample for an HIV-AIDS detection test on a patient on 18 Jun 2008 in Noe, a city in Ivory Coast close to the Ghana border

Multimedia

Audio

While Ghana has one of Africa's lowest HIV infection rates, prejudice and poverty compound the difficulties facing those who have the virus that causes AIDS.  One Christian ministry that is helping those living with HIV/AIDS.

Monsignor Bobby Benson began the Matthew 25 Ministry in 1998 after meeting an AIDS patient in the United States.

It is based near Ghana's eastern city of Koforidua in a region with one of the country's highest HIV infection rates.  In the years since, Benson's center has helped hundreds of patients and is currently home to 70 people with HIV/AIDS.

"Word goes round, they are referred to this house by the hospitals and laboratories," said Benson.  "Once a person is infected many a times the victim does not know where to go to, so they say go to Matthew 25 House."

The man known locally as Father Bobby says the center also helps children orphaned by the disease.

"A number of children have been left behind by HIV/AIDS patients so we take care of them," added Benson.  "We have 98 children we are supporting in the house for the past 10 years.  Two are finishing university and polytechnic this year."

Benson says AIDS patients who are still living on their own receive food from the center.  Those who can no longer support themselves move in.

"We try to provide accommodation for those who cannot afford, we pay their medical bills, we pay their transport anytime they come to this house because most of them are not working," explained Monsignor Benson.

A 35-year-old mother of two who does not want her name used in this story says she tried to commit suicide when she learned that her husband died of AIDS and left her HIV positive.

After trying to poison herself, she says a nurse brought her to the Matthew 25 House.  Eight years after testing positive, she is still alive.  She says sometimes you leave home with a heavy heart, but when you get to Matthew 25 everything comes back to life in the support you get from counseling and from Father Bobby.

But she has still not disclosed her HIV status to her family because she says when people know you are HIV positive they do not want to come near you for fear that they too might become infected.  She has not even told her sister because she is afraid her sister might reject her daughter if she knew.

Benson says prejudices against people with HIV/AIDS have frustrated efforts to supplement the donations that keep the center running.  They have tried selling charcoal and sewing school uniforms.

"We also produce palm oil, but again we do not get market," said Benson.  "Once people know it is produced by Matthew 25 they would not buy our oil.  We have some in the warehouse right now.  We also do funeral undertaking so we have two hearse services which the public comes to access.  Most of our clients have learned how to produce tie-and-dye batik.  But again we are not into production on a high scale because unless we get a market, or an organization says, 'Produce so much for us,' then we do it."

Benson says despite progress in lowering the country's HIV infection rate, Ghanian society has still not learned to accept that HIV-positive people can lead normal lives.

"What baffles me is that we buy all kinds of food items from the roadside.  We do not know who is producing them. Somebody may be HIV positive, but we do not know, and we buy the food and enjoy it," noted Benson.  "But as soon as you get to know a person is HIV positive you are afraid of the person.  It is a pity the public is afraid of HIV, as if a person with HIV is the worse person under the planet.  But they are human as we are.  As for the stigma, it is still there.  You will be surprised this very house we are sitting here is highly stigmatized, but we do not have a problem.  We are still doing what we are doing."

When confronted with that stigma, Benson takes comfort in the Bible passage of Matthew 25 itself, in which the Lord says: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Additional reporting by Ruby Amable in Ghana

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs