As a medical student from Bonn, Germany,in October 2007, I was invited to do a five month internship in the G25 paediatric ward at the Groote Schuur Hospital. At the same time Dr. Paul Roux involved me with Kidzpositive. On the one side, the interesting and retrospectively worthy thing about this constellation was to get to know different medical problems and their solutions; on the other side I found the confrontation with social issues and everyday problems of the South African population most impressing. I really believe that by doing this, I was able to get a closer look and have a deeper understanding of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. One of the best and most unforgettable experiences was the PATA Conference in Swaziland. When I heard about the possibility to drive there, I was very excited and couldn't believe that I would get to see another African country besides South Africa. At the end of November, the Groote Schuur team started their journey from Cape Town to Swaziland. Although I knew that Swaziland is a distance of almost 2000km, I was happy we drove all the way on the N1 instead of flying. Thereby, I saw the beauty of places like the Karoo desert, Free State and the green hills of Mpumalanga. While I was driving our vehicle, I really had to force myself not to look at the breathtaking landscape but to concentrate on the roads. I didn't know much about my tasks that lay ahead, but as soon as we arrived at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre near Manzini work began. As a part of the Kidzpositive team, I was involved in almost everything, which happened in the background: printing nametags, interviews for the newsletter, assisting in the workshops, and orientation for the guests.
Although I worked a lot and felt very exhausted at the end of every day, I met so many friendly and interesting people, that I am happy to have been a part of PATA! I learned that PATA means "to touch" which was, from my point of view, demonstrated by a very affable, respectful and productive dialog between all the participating African countries. I enjoyed the multicultural atmosphere, to see traditional African clothes, hear African music and eat African food. Although it was sometimes easy to recognize certain intercultural differences, it was impressive to see how this mixture worked together. In this multicultural interaction, I see the biggest potential to be a match with future problems. Finally, I would like to thank everybody who accompanied my last 5 months. I really enjoyed this beautiful and exciting country! Next week I will leave Cape Town with my best friend to travel. I will also come to Swaziland again, where I'm going to meet a Swazi friend of mine, whom I got to know during the conference. The most visible outcome of the Swaziland conference will be the presentation of a paper on the value of 'Expert Patients' in task shifting in a Paediatric ARV clinic.
Melanie Evans will be travelling to Mexico City to present this paper at the International AIDS Conference this coming August.
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.