Thursday, December 2, 2010

Red Ribbons and Ikhwezi Shindigs

Ikhwezi Lokusa Wellness Centre was busy this week!  On Monday morning, we hosted the inaugural “Friends of Ikhwezi Breakfast” to launch their fundraising campaign.  Weeks of planning resulted in the event to attract donors to alleviate financial pressures when the major funding contract ends in February.  It was a baby step but hopefully the beginning of something big!  I worked at the registration table (which meant I got to hang out in the sun with other staff during the presentations and dole out the coveted First National Bank pens), Sarah gave the big push to donate during the presentation, and Jason was head usher.  The Daily Dispatch is featuring stories about Ikhwezi for the entire week—a story about violence and HIV and an interview with Aunt K.

Some of the wonderful staff

On Wednesday December 1, we celebrated World AIDS Day with a full day event that was also very successful!  Clients, Ikhwezi staff, and community members shared stories, prayers, and information.  We passed out condoms and brochures while TruFM, a local radio station, broadcast live.   

Da Boyz-Simphiwe, Big King, and Mpumezi
For my first participations in a World AIDS Day, South Africa was an appropriate place to be.  From the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010: With an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV in 2009, (of which 3.3  million are women) South Africa’s epidemic remains the largest in the world.   I'm  still in slight disbelief at this statistic, but last weekend's Sunday Times reported estimates that 1 in 3 South Africanwomen between the ages of 24-29 are infected with HIV.  AIDS is the largest cause of maternal mortality in South Africa and also accounts for 35% of deaths in childrenyounger than fi ve years.  For those children that live, the UNAIDS report estimates that there are 1.9 million orphans in South Africa as a result of AIDS.                                                                                                    

It's not all doom and gloom and the day culminated with the entire centre lighting candles with each other and gently praying and singing.  It was a beautiful moment, although my experience was cut short as Sarah and I self-appointed ourselves to watch some of the children who had also been given candles.  One of them, apparently still developing his spatial awareness, managed to singe the back of his sister’s head, leaving the lingering and unmistakable scent of smouldering human hair.  I also think the cleaning women will appreciate the trail of candle wax all over the floor. Oh well, it  is a nice souvenir of a touching  commemoration!  All in all, it was a day well spent and I was honoured to be involved! 
Aunt K

Analise and Mpumezi proudly sporting their red ribbons

Sarah saving a life

Mr. Cool


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