Ten Times the Compassion

Face of AIDS

My blog guru put me on to Seth Godin’s blog.  Now, he’s a marketing maven of first rank, but you might wonder how he appeals to me, one who customarily walks far from that commercial world.  I guess it’s because he seems committed to decency in a brilliant way.  Anyway, he was blogging about what a new product needs to steal a niche: Ten times the Fidelity or ten times the Convenience.

I thought about two Nkonya  colleagues of mine, Foster and Ella,  and their role in fighting HIV/AIDS in their own backyard.  What “breaks-my-mouth”  as I watch them in action is that they seem to possess “ten times the compassion”.  That’s fidelity.

On my last visit to Ghana, Foster,  ever one to exploit an angle for the cause, capitalized on my presence. He prevailed on  me to take a seriously ill woman to the HIV/AIDS clinic about half an hour away in my truck.

We stopped by the side of the road, Foster disappeared to the house and came back, carrying her protectively,  followed by a single female family member. She was slight, little but skin over bones, possessed of  a racking, productive cough. He repeated the same at the clinic. Then he asked me to drive them to the health insurance office to have her picture taken for a national insurance card. Matter-of-factly he touched my wallet for the cash.

In Ghana, family ties dominate relationships. This woman had no claim of kinship on Foster. And yet, I couldn’t help  but feel that if she had been his daughter or a sister  he could not have showed greater tenderness or taken more care. In comparison, coughing up  the  cedis necessary to acquire the card melted to insignificance.

It is one thing to inform someone that there are now drugs to treat  HIV/AIDS and advise them to take advantage of their availability.  It is another to see a sufferer in the marketplace, take the initiative, talk them through their fears and the fears of their family,  go with them for testing, and accompany them still further  to receive the results and anti-viral medications. It is going another mile to make follow-up visits to their home to make sure they really understand how to take the medication,  and to bring a gift of yam from your farm. It goes beyond, to touch, to  carry, to be unafraid to be associated, to love.

Ten times the compassion will find a niche.

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