Festival of Life on World AIDS Day 2009

On 01 December 2009 the Blessed Gérard’s Hospice HAART Programme hosted its celebration of the Festival of Life on the World AIDS Day. This year we had invited other members of the Management team who are directly or indirectly linked to the HAART Programme.

The programme for the day was schedule to commence at 10:00AM although we still had some of the HAART patients still making their way into the hall. We had at least over a third of all the patients, some were absent due to occupational commitments.

Father Gérard Lagleder OSB opened the ceremony with a prayer after which the Programme Director took over. Father was first to address those present mentioning the importance of the patients to the Care Centre’s cause , and he stated his gratitude to the patients, Council, Management and the HAART Team as a whole for all their contribution to making the Programme the success it is today.

Mr Axel Pape, the general manager, was second to address the audience. He thanked the patients, council, management and the HAART team as well. He mentioned the important role the government has and its commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS quoting the slogan, “I am responsible, we are responsible, South Africa is responsible”.

Mrs Nunn subsequently presented a poem by Russel Kelfer, that was chosen by Miss Dube, the Social Worker, which was appropriately titled, “I am not an accident” and which was quite relevant on the day. The poem was translated in its totality so that its message could be understood by everyone.

Mr Zulu, on behalf of the Therapeutic Counsellors, namely Mr P Dube and the former, spoke on the progress the support groups have made. He also encouraged patients to be self sufficient by allowing one of the patients to present her hand craft work (hand bags) which is a source of income for her.

The HAART Team then presented a poem which it had written. Professional Nurse Simelane, Enrolled Nurse Nxumalo and Mr P Dube were the main actors. It was interactive which made it to be more energetic and effective in getting its theme across. The poem touched on stigma, testing for HIV, being initiated on ARVs and handling the latter’s side-effects. It also encouraged people to fight for their health and to honour their HAART Clinic appointments.

It was then the turn of the patients to speak freely about what they felt about the HAART Programme and what it is like to live with HIV on a daily basis. Some of the testimonies evoked a lot of emotion, some quite energetic but they all shared a common theme, living positively with HIV infection.

Dr K Nzimande thanked Council, particularly Father Gérard, for giving the opportunity of working in the Care Centre. He also thanked Management, the HAART Team, especially the Therapeutic Counsellors for their sterling work. He finally thanked those in the HAART Programme for accepting him as their doctor and for being so strong in their fight with HIV/AIDS.

A delicious lunch was served, thanks to Mrs Beaumont and the Kitchen Staff, which everyone present enjoyed after the blessing by Father Gérard.

One of the Support Groups had a special surprise for Fr Gérard. They gave him a present, a Belated Birthday/Thank you cake; the latter was shared by Father with everyone in the hall. Wiseman also received a present from the same group.

Father Gérard was requested to close the day as he opened it, with prayer. Everyone subsequently dispersed with renewed vigour to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Although it is quite difficult to put in words the atmosphere in that hall it is sufficient to say that if there are people like those (patients and staff) who still yearn to do so much in the field of HIV/AIDS, then there is still hope for humanity to be victorious in the war against HIV/AIDS.

Dr Khaya Nzimande

This page is part of the Newsletter No. 29 of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

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