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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid