Lindiwe is only 23 and from Mpumalanga, South Africa. She has a rotting arm and she lives on the street waiting to die. A chronic ulcer has eaten her left forearm to the bone.
She has spent more than a year living on the street. The pain she goes through is unbearable. She has to regularly inject a painkiller in her forearm to relieve the pain. The wound is exposed to the elements - rain, sunshine, dirt from the traffic.
Passers-by of all classes occasionally stop by and give her alms. Others just pass her by. Accustomed to being shunned because of the stench from her open wound, wondering why a young innocent soul is left to rot and die on the unforgiving street.
When I and my friends saw her when we were walking down the ever busy Francis Baard Street on the 17/Oct/2019, we were compelled to stop and see what’s happening with her. She started to narrate her sorry story and during all this, a small group gathered to see what was going on. A few well-wishers came and offered her bottles of water to quench her thirst in the burning summer sun.
In mid-September, l raised money from friends and took her to an affordable clinic in the township of Mamelodi. The doctors there said she has Cellulitis - a deadly and chronic bacterial infection.
It is, however, treatable. She had a similar but smaller wound in her right forearm. That wound healed. The only thing left is a scar. The hand also looks shriveled.
Lindiwe’s constant companions are the street kids. One of them, Bridget, 14, has become her street nurse. She frequently provides the Pethidine injection into her forearm through the vein.
But her courage and hope is unshaken. “People have given up on me. They think I am going to die. No! What will die is my infected arm,” she says. She even believes that like her right arm, the left arm with the giant ulcer can also heal.
She says she fell ill in 2016 but has not had good medical treatment. Both her parents are dead and her only sibling is also mentally unstable, so she’s completely alone in this fight.
She completed her Grade-11 two years ago with hopes of becoming a doctor. Illness cut short her journey to university. Her dream is to battle cancer. She wants to specialize in oncology.
The stigma of the smelly ulcer wound continue to haunt her ,and sometimes those who would like to help her are kept away by the smell from her rotting hand. When she was admitted, she was put in the clinic found in the shanty Mamelodi, other patients complained and kept harassing her because of the smell. She was also in great pain as she didn’t have the Pethidine injections. One day she just left the clinic without a trace. She resurfaced at her street address around Pretoria.
Her condition has since worsened and when we contacted a specialist in this kind of ailments, he agreed to admit her so that she can have the amputation done. But all this requires money of about U$ 63,400 (R 930,015) including the surgeon's fee, facility fee, anesthesia and medical supplies.
There are many people like Lindiwe. We may not save them all but we can save her. Let’s halt Lindiwe’s journey to the grave. Please stand with me to restore Lindiwe.
Your prayers are also needed and will be appreciated greatly in this time of need. May God bless your soul for caring and for your good intentions, I also pledge my solidarity to you and sure that the Universe will also provide for you in your time of need.