In the global fight against AIDS, the international community has brought access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) to many health facilities around the world, but not all. Those lifesaving tablets that travel 10,000 miles sometimes don’t make it far enough.
“Because a jar on a dusty shelf in the clinic must not be the goal of the journey. We cannot congratulate ourselves and call that jar “access”. The jar on the shelf is not “access” – it is merely inventory.
“The entire business is a bitter failure without the last mile. It is the last mile that has proven to be the most difficult. It is a mile beyond the government’s reach. It is the mile into the hurting world and broken heart of the 9-year-old orphan living in the slum.
“The jar of pills traveled ten thousand miles but it needed to travel ten thousand – and one.”
– Scott Todd, Senior Ministry Advisor at Compassion
With our AIDS Initiative, Compassion is bringing the global fight “The Last Mile,” beyond the clinic, down dusty roads, through garbage-infested slums, up hills and into valleys to our church partners and beyond to the homes of our families.
True access to care means going beyond the clinic to the families who are waiting for the hope that only this medicine can bring.
Without ART, lives would be lost and families wrecked.
Our work fills the void, closes the gap and goes the Last Mile … not only in ensuring true access to the ART, but in the holistic approach to HIV and AIDS.
Our health workers know our families well, and visit those who are HIV-positive often, finding out what they need and how they are doing.
Our workers deliver care and support through the church, with the hope of Jesus Christ, to each family.
When a child needs to go to the hospital for care or testing for blood counts, we are there, realizing that without the support to get to the health center or hospital, all of the technology in the world is useless.
The machines used to count white blood cells, the x-ray machines to look for suspicious masses and infections, the medicine to treat opportunistic infections, and the medicine to help keep those with AIDS alive … all would be rendered useless without our church partner’s health workers who work as advocates, educators, comforters and confidants to our families.
When a child needs additional nutritional support to stay strong, our workers are there. When a distraught parent needs someone to talk to about a diagnosis of HIV, our workers are there.
When a mud hut is crumbling because a family affected by HIV and AIDS has lost its livelihood, our church partners are there to help the family regain their dignity.
One mile is not far, but for those living in poverty, with little contact with the outside world, that last mile is the difference between life and death.
“The Last Mile takes counseling, home visits, facilitating transport, payment for clinical services, lab tests and medicines including antiretroviral drugs. It takes a willingness to go the distance. It takes perseverance.
“The Last Mile takes people filled with compassion, whose faith and hope come from a deeper spring than the world has ever known. People of uncommon strength to walk the slums. People strong enough to carry joy in the dark. People with their hands busy at the work of healing today’s hurts even as their eyes remain fixed on eternity.
“Where do we find such people? They are already gathered. They are crowded into little rooms in the slums, in the city centers, and even in the forests. They gather to sing praise to Jesus Christ, to pray for each other and for their hurting world. They are His people, His Church.
“The Last Mile takes followers of Jesus Christ doing ministry the way Jesus did it – holistically. It takes His Church.”
– Scott Todd