What does courage mean? It’s worth asking, because words like “fame” have lost all meaning. People are celebrated for being famous, rather than for curing a disease or inventing something useful or creating thought-provoking works of art, literature or music.
Is courage about participating in extreme sports or contrived reality shows where people voluntarily take “risks”? Or is this another form of narcissism in this age of the selfie stick?
One face of courage: In the Nuba Mountains of Sudan the regime regularly drops bombs on its own citizens to ethnically cleanse the country of anyone who is not Arab and Muslim. The Nuba people have been under siege since 2011, living in caves, surviving on grass because they cannot reach their fields. Only one surgeon, an American called Tom Catena, has stayed. He is on call each day and night, working in primitive conditions, trying to save the lives of the victims of this jihad. The Sudanese government deliberately targets the Mother of Mercy Hospital, but “Dr Tom” remains, performing an estimated 1,000 surgeries a year.
Another face of courage: Few people measure up to Tom Catena’s example, but at Network for Africa we encounter another form of courage: the strength to carry on in the face of an HIV diagnosis. Hope can be taken away in a second. That was how David, a fifty-year-old man in northern Uganda, felt when he was told he was HIV positive. In many traditional rural areas stigma still attaches to HIV. Consequently, David avoided other people, sold his land, and considered suicide.
Then he heard there was counselling being offered at the local health center/centre by Network for Africa’s partner, PCCO. David abandoned his isolation, and started to attend the talks PCCO offered. He learned about drug therapy, and the importance of eating nutritious food. Thanks to the counselling, and the companionship of others in the same situation, he understood it was possible to live with HIV. Although he is under no illusions, David now believes he can live a long life. He is using his money to send his son to university, and planning for the future.
The PCCO team counsels thousands of people a year in northern Uganda. Your support makes their work possible. Please click on the arrow to the right of this page to make a donation. Thank you.