Jetlag and a little girl in pink

by sandy on April 20, 2010

Phew, flying West to East seems mighty different to going the other way. The girls have described it as drifting through water. That might be because we are all fighting off colds. Unusual for this family as we think of ourselves as quite robust normally.

Roger maintained South African time for the first 3 days while I was asleep on my feet by early evening and awake with sparkles on at about 1am. Still it has been a wonderful time for reflection.

While in South Africa the reflective part of my grey matter seemed to atrophy, even becoming seemingly a little defiant. I would think a thought expecting the next logical thought to attach itself immediately – but nothing. Just a void. Frustrated I would try again hoping to generate logical consequential thought, but my brain remained stubbornly mute. In the end I tired of it’s game and stopped thinking altogether. There was so much to absorb us in terms of all the senses, it was consolation believing that a certain amount of osmosis would be happening by default.

It was! As we stepped onto the the plane and took off, the thoughts started to rush in, crowding eachother, competing for my attention. So the wee hours of the morning the first few days were a real bonus. Clear, unfettered thinking.

This little girl occupied some of that time. She and her peers sum up so much of the work we need to do. She has a mother. But none the less she is subject to the affects of HIV/AIDS. Now and into the future. Will she be safe? Will she give birth to children not affected by HIV/AIDS? What will her society look like?

I saw her skipping down the road in Diepsloot, a huge informal settlement close to Johannesburg, when we were visiting Sister Sato’s Vuselela Community Centre and beckoned her to come over so I could give her the hat she is wearing – a regular little princess.

She would not accept it. I discovered through translation that she said her mother would beat her and throw the hat in the bin as it had been given to her from within the precincts of Sister Sato’s HIV/AIDS clinic. It was explained that such is the stigma of AIDS, her mother would be fearful that she would be contaminated. I was greatly shocked.

After a while the little girl came back, dragging her mother who stood anxiously outside the gate. I went out with the hat and she reluctantly accepted it.

Our little girl was so excited as you can see. What to make of this? How much education must go out into this society to help fix this endemic problem. At that point it seemed truly overwhelming.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana April 20, 2010 at 21:19

What a cute hat! Court Jester!

Enid Shaw April 21, 2010 at 14:57

oh dear!! what ignorance still abounds how AIDS is contracted. So sad in this day and age.
Sandy, you wrote of meeting just one family that has worries about social contact; I wonder how many more are depriving themselves? It seems to me, that health education is a close second in terms of help needed. Definitely something that world leaders should consider.
Very glad you are all home safe. Loved reading of your trip.

Dawne Smith-Sliming April 22, 2010 at 12:59

What a heartbreaking post. Not the least of which the comment about how the little girl’s mother would beat her.

The old cliche ‘Knowledge is Power’ comes to mind. I think the awareness and education needed to overcome the stigmatism will come, slowly, through the on-the-ground unsung heroes like Sister Sato.

Thank you for giving all of us a chance to support people like Sister Sato in their efforts to make a brighter tomorrow for these children.

Sandy April 25, 2010 at 03:26

Yes, I think this post underpins a very dire need for education. What to do and how we could help people like Sister Sato is much on our minds. She is indeed an unsung hero. We met many extraordinary people like her too who gladden your hearts with their unstinting work, complete faith, indomitable spirit.

Zanny May 7, 2010 at 01:08

Those unsung heroes will win through, but there are years of hard work ahead in order to fulfill this. KAS; is a charity, with many kind and caring knitters and crocheters involved and this in itself is a start toward warmth and hope in little childrens lives.

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