Saturday, September 17, 2005

Will you give one minute of your life to stop AIDS?

Some time ago a social worker from Kwazulu Natal spoke to our company about the effect of AIDS on whole communities in the region. She talked of whole villages where only grandparents and children survived - all adults of 20 to 60 were dying from AIDS.

She showed us stories of individual children and the effect of AIDS on their upbringing.

There were not many dry eyes as she showed us drawings by these children and narrated the stories behind them.

The newspaper article below tells of one such story. It does not mention AIDS. This is the tradition in Africa. It is considered shameful to die of the disease - so people don't admit to it. I am surmising the mother died of AIDS and the father is dying of AIDS.

If you would like to make a difference, there are many opportunities. From volunteer work in the affected regions to donations.

If you would like to donate, you can do so through The Nelson Mandela Foundation at

If you donate, please leave a comment below this blog entry - I'd like to track its impact. I'll total the amounts disclosed in the comments and display a running total on the blog.


This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on September 16, 2005

These boys shoulder a huge responsibility...

Solly Maphumulo
September 16 2005 at 07:42AM

Themba and Thabo should be doing what other boys do - playing soccer, climbing trees and watching television.

But 12-year-old Themba and his nine-year-old brother Thabo shoulder a huge responsibility.

They look after their seven-month-old sister, Precious, and their bed-ridden father, Jimmy.

They also looked after their mother, Sbongile, before she died on Monday at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, where she was admitted with abdominal pains.

'I have to make sure my family are okay'

On Thursday, Thabo didn't go to school. It was his turn to look after Precious and their dad, although Themba couldn't wait to get home to cuddle his tiny sister.

When Precious began to cry, he rocked her, making soothing sounds. Then, putting a dummy into her mouth, he whispered: "Ungakhali Precious, ngikhona" (Don't cry, I'm here).

"I have to look after my father, my brother and my sister," Themba said. "I don't mind because I'm the oldest, and that's what I have to do. "I don't have time to play with my friends after school... I have to make sure my family are okay."

The boys clean the house and scrub the floors, wash nappies, and cook and feed the family.

On Thursday Thabo woke up to feed Precious, cleaned the house and made his father comfortable.

'She was sick for a long time'

"It was my turn; that's what me and my brother agreed," he said. "Tomorrow I go to school and he stays at home."

Jimmy, who was too weak to talk much on Thursday, said he was proud of his sons.

"They are good boys because they are looking after me and Precious. They also comforted me when I heard that Sbongile had died."

Although she died on Monday, Jimmy has been too weak to go to the mortuary to identify the body. Also, there isn't enough money to bury her.

"My mother was in terrible pain and God chose to take her away to rest," said Themba.

"She was sick for a long time. She was always groaning. That broke my heart.

"I cried when I heard about her death, but I remembered what our Sunday-school teacher taught us. She said that if someone dies, they will rest peacefully.

"So I think my mother is resting because she was suffering. I watched her and cried every day," said Themba, stroking his sister's cheeks.

Sbongile had always wanted a daughter, so she was over the moon when she gave birth to a girl.

She loved her so much, she named her Precious.

"I will look after Precious properly, so that my mother can rest properly," Themba vowed.

The brothers comfort Precious when she's inconsolable, and rock her to sleep when she wakes up crying in the middle of the night.

Money is hard to come by and the family survive on donations from neighbours. Sometimes they go days without eating.

When the family moved into the abandoned home in Protea Glen Extension 4, Soweto, there was no roof, so Jimmy found a few sheets of corrugated iron and spent his days turning the house into a home.

Then both parents became ill. He and Sbongile grew weaker and, before he could finish putting a roof on the home, they both were confined to a mattress, leaving Themba and Thabo with the adult responsibility of looking after them.

On Thursday, Gauteng department of social services assistant director Zandile Makgalemele promised to assess the situation.

"If the children are young, they cannot look after a bed-ridden father and a baby," she said.

Child psychologist Ruth Ancer said the boys had been robbed of their childhood.

"Childhood is about discovering something about the world and yourself. Children discover a lot of things through playing. This should be the time they develop confidence. They shouldn't have such enormous responsibilities."

Ancer said the boys needed time to grieve for their mother, not to become little adults overnight.

She urged the government to provide facilities to help the children and others in similar situations.

"It is going to be stressful and frightening for the boys to look after their father, who is not well. They also have to look after their seven-month-old sister.

"That is too much for the boys - they don't have the maturity and skills to do that," Ancer said.

1 comment:

It is the question said...

If you feel comfortable doing so, please post your transaction confirmations here in the following format:

This is to confirm that The Nelson Mandela Foundation has processed a sale transaction on your card XXXX for 1,000.00 (ZAR).

The transaction occured on the 2005/09/17 at 11:06:47 (South African Time).

The reference number used by The Nelson Mandela Foundation was PPP001041.

According to The Nelson Mandela Foundation, you made the following

Order Details:
Total Order Amount : 1,000.00 (ZAR)
Transaction Date : 2005/09/17
Transaction Time : 11:06:47

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