By Jennifer Sue
Today, my home in Westchester, New York is laced with snow. It is a little more than a year since I was in South Africa, doing volunteer work with Kidzpositive. Since then I have been back, nursing in the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. I certainly do miss the warmer weather in South Africa, but more than that, I miss the energy radiating from the mothers and children of Kidzpositive. Moving between a Cardio-thoracic Critical Care Unit in New York and an out-patient department looking after HIV-positive children in Cape Town certainly challenged my adaptability. What with the rumble of plastic toys, the flurry of paperwork, noisy doctors and nurses at the nursing station and the loud background chatter of the bead-working mothers, it was easy for someone used to the order of the CCU to feel overwhelmed. But the warm welcome from the Kidzpositive family eased the intimidating nature of the work and the ever-active children were a constant reminder of why I was there. After a busy clinic morning with many clients waiting for all the elements of clinic work, my favourite time of the day was spent with the children. The first encounter would start off shy and curious, but this would soon melt away as we became involved in play - that after all is the main interest of children well or ill, all over the world. Children have this beautiful resilience. Their spirits are strong, they need to breathe and stretch and run. Many seemed tired after the long trip to the clinic, but I remember that soon after we started to play 'monster monster' their eyes would brighten and they would be squealing with excitement. One young student taught me her dance steps and I recall trying to follow her choreography - to the giggles and laughter of many young observers. Although the younger children can't communicate that fluently in English, they could well understand my 'Farewell my friend' in broken Xhosa. And hugs, after all, are universal. I was also given the opportunity to observe the commitment, passion and creativity with which the physicians battle this HIV/AIDS epidemic. The day does not seem long enough for the agendas they follow as they travel from clinic to clinic. Their knowledge is transferred to their immediate colleagues, to volunteers such as me and to the mothers and children attending the clinics. The success of their work, which started off as a hopeful enterprise to make a real difference, is a testament to the value of drive and dedication.I appreciate the experiences with which Kidzpositive provided me, as a traveller, a RN and a human being. This epidemic has some frightening realities that I have come to understand but also some very positive perspectives to acknowledge. Kidzpositive is a small but fierce beacon that has ignited hope throughout its community. I am proud that it continues to provide me with such a powerful inspiration, even from so far away.
Our new product 'Ndebele cards' feature beautiful ethnic designs on beaded squares with a pin attached so you are buying more than just a card and your purchase is supporting a family affected by HIV/AIDS. The beadwork can be worn as a brooch or pinned to a bag. The cards are R20 each and can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org or inquiries to
+27 21 686 9710.