Medical Doctor and Amateur Photographer Ezio Gianni Murzi is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From the project  ‘Mozambique—Revisiting Chokwe health services 40 years later’.  To see Ezio’s body of work, click on any image.

 

 

 

 

The HIV/AIDS pandemic is ravaging Mozambique, as thirty percent of the population is affected, and many children are orphans. In 2019, I went back to Chokwe, Limpopo district, after more than 40 years. I used my camera to document changes and hope. While the Rural Hospital was the same, another separate structure had been added to exclusively treat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients. Despite the AIDS ravages, life continues as children are skillfully delivered through Caesarean section when required.

 

Mozambique—Revisiting Chokwe health services 40 years later 

 

After much thinking, I decided to go back to Chokwe, Mozambique, where I had been working as a medical doctor, 1977-1981. My purpose was to reconnect with a place and to walk the memory lane. I would use my camera lens to shield me from intrusive and recurrent memories by framing them. I found that while the Rural Hospital was almost the same as I left it, except the addition of a functional operating theater, another structure had been added to cope with the AIDS pandemic and the spread of tuberculosis, the Carmelo Hospital, a hospital fully dedicated to treat HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis patients, obtained by adapting an old nunnery. The Carmelo Hospital has a bakery, a child center hosting AIDS orphans, and a kitchen serving two meals a day. Most importantly the hospital has social workers regularly visiting patients and families in their villages. While there, I reconnected to staff of my time, and visited them in their homes. 

 

 

Returning to Chokwe some 40 years later let me touch by hand how HIV infection and the AIDS pandemic have changed the health services, both in sophistication and focus of care. The Old Rural Hospital continues to care for everything except AIDS and Tuberculosis. 

 

Mortality among young adults is extremely high leaving behind orphaned children often ill with AIDS and tuberculosis. The Rural Hospital was overwhelmed. 

 

Orphans hosted in the Children Center in the Carmelo Hospital.

 

Wesselina Sitoe had two daughters. They both died of AIDS. She is now taking care of her grandchildren. Here she is photographed with two of her six grandchildren in her house in Lionde, Gaza province, Mozambique, this past February. Part of my project Framing and Reframing Memories 40 Years After.

 

This is why in the early 90’s the Catholic nuns, somewhere the same of forty years ago, cooperating with government counterparts decided to transform an old nunnery into a hospital fully dedicated to treating tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS. Besides the in-patient care, nuns check on the health status of their patients monthly and provide food supplements and school notebooks. Attending one of these sessions is an unforgettable experience. A social worker would visit at home in their village those defaulting on their monthly check. Patients are re-admitted if necessary.

 

Waiting for the monthly check up

 

Bakery

 

Waiting

 

All images and text © Ezio Gianni Murzi

 

 

 See also:

Mozambique portraits

By Ezio Gianni Murzi

 

 

 

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