In the annals of human history, few individuals embody the true spirit of courage quite like Patrick Moore. The age-old adage, “Fortitude is knowing you are defeated before you begin but starting anyways and finishing despite the odds,” perfectly encapsulates the fearless determination with which he approaches life. Though he may face insurmountable obstacles, Patrick Moore is a shining example of a true hero who never gives up, no matter how daunting the challenge.

By Noko Mashilo

It can be incredibly challenging for families to navigate the impact of chronic illness on parents. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for low-income families to experience difficulties with functioning, as well as social, emotional, and behavioural issues in children.

It’s important to acknowledge the wide range of emotions children may experience in these situations, such as guilt, anger, worry, frustration, embarrassment, despair, loss, and relief.

Patrick Moore’s experience with his parents’ chronic illnesses not only transformed him into their carer but also into their advocate for proper medical care. Chronic pain, according to the 55-year-old from Dobsonville in Soweto, affects the body, emotions, relationships, and the mind.

“You end up experiencing changes in social behaviour, such as sleeping patterns and how you respond to others,” the Imbali-Enhle HIV Foundation care centre’s founder explained.

He established the centre in 1987 when he was 16 as a result of his parent’s dire health condition.

“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and both of my parents had chronic illnesses.” My father had leukaemia, and my mother had throat cancer. I had no time to play when I came back from school. I had to take care of my parents. “I would bathe, feed them, and ensure they took their medication.”

Patrick recalls a difficult week from two decades ago when he lost both his parents a day apart. The loss was an extremely challenging time for him, and he still carries the memory with him.

“They both died in the same week when I was 35 years old.

“My mother passed away first, and the following day, while I was making funeral arrangements for her, my father also passed away.

“It was just after I had fed him, and when I came back from the kitchen to put his dish away, I found him dead. It felt like I was dreaming, but I wasn’t; he was gone, forever.”

He says the death of his parents tore his heart apart: “Even though they say tigers don’t cry, I did cry, and my grief was so intense.” “The death of a loved one will leave you feeling empty deep inside, even though you can try to be strong.”

Patrick, a self-taught caregiver, founded his organisation with eight patients: six women and two men. One of the patients was an 87-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke and was introduced to him by Ntate Peter Motlapedi, a friend of his father who knew of Patrick’s caregiving skills. Currently, Patrick and eight other caregivers provide care for a total of 1339 patients. Twenty-three of the patients reside in Patrick’s home, while the others receive home care visits from him and his team.

He emphasised that his team ensures that they feed patients, administer medication, accompany them to clinic appointments for treatment and check-ups, and provide emotional support and care.

The Imbali-Enhle HIV Foundation care centre offers a range of programs focused on education about gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS, cancer, rehabilitation for individuals struggling with substance abuse, and support groups held on weekends. His organisation’s efforts include assisting with funeral arrangements for families unable to afford them and providing school uniforms, stationery, and groceries to underprivileged children. On 16 December, Patrick loaded a truck with food parcels to distribute to people in need for Christmas.

Patrick disclosed that he is afflicted with multimorbidity, encompassing a constellation of chronic conditions, including blood cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, and kidney failure. He revealed that he has been grappling with blood cancer, akin to his father, since 1997 and has been living with HIV for 22 years. Additionally, he was recently diagnosed with kidney failure and underwent treatment for tuberculosis, which he completed four months ago.

Patrick became conscious of his tuberculosis condition due to persistent coughing, weight loss, and excessive sweating.

“I live with several chronic illnesses, including blood cancer, HIV, tuberculosis, and kidney failure. I have been diagnosed with blood cancer, like my father, since 1997, and I have been HIV positive for 22 years.

“Last year, I was diagnosed with kidney failure, and earlier this year, I began my TB treatment, which I completed four months ago. I also found out that I had TB after I started coughing nonstop, losing weight, and sweating a lot.”

He also mentioned the challenges faced by individuals with comorbidities during COVID-19: “We were at high risk, with many being hospitalised and some losing their lives. Luckily, we were prioritised due to preventive measures such as vaccination and ongoing treatment.

“Many patients were encouraged to stay home and access the pocket clinic’s WhatsApp channel to ensure their medication parcels were delivered to their homes. Those who work were working from home. Through our caregivers, we provided medication to some patients in the Imbali-Enhle HIV Foundation care centre database.”

He proudly shared that his organisation is fortunate to receive generous food aid from numerous churches and the immensely generous singer-songwriter Yvonne Chaka Chaka.

“Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, and there is power in working together. Blessed is the hand that gives,” said Patrick, who has learned love, patience, and communication skills while caring for vulnerable people.

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