Kimberly Vrudny

Participant 16

In 30/30 Participants, South Africa, Yabonga on August 12, 2010 at 4:30 am

"Participant 16" writes about the painful realities of working with children living with HIV/AIDS. She has served Yabonga as a peer educator and counselor.

I started knowing [my HIV+ status] in 2002 while I was sick. I had TB and it was for the second time and my doctor decided/advised that I should do an HIV test. It was something new for me and I did it. Unfortunately I tested +. I just thought it was the end of life for me but [the] one thing [that] kept me going was my child. I prayed to God that he must not take me because my son is still young. Apart from that was to join Yabonga support group in 2002 at M/Goniwe Clinic in Khayelitsha. The lady who was a team leader there gave me all thesupport that I needed and I felt very strong after that. In 2005 I was so lucky to be trained as a peer educator at Yabonga. Then [in] 2006 I started working and fortunately for me I was a youth counselor. I had to deal with children who are infected with HIV/AIDS and affected. Some of them are orphans through HIV/AIDS. Finally it started as something good for me because I was working, but later I discovered that, this is worse to deal with children’s challenges. I worked in different places where Yabonga is having containers at the clinics. [Shipping containers are used as freestanding buildings in many township communities.] I remember while I was in Kraai-Fontein [in] 2007, there were two children. [O]ne of them is HIV+ and their mom didn’t have any means to provide for them but because in our OVC programme we give these children all the support [they required] including [a school] uniform and some food, and they come to our centers after school for food as we have community moms to cook for them. These community mothers are our clients who volunteer themselves to cook for the children after school. The food and everything is from Yabonga and they just open their homes for our children. But with a [stipend]. So for some children it is a great priviledge for them to be part of Yabonga at least to have them all to get the support they need. Some of these children become infected, so we have to deal with these problems but we refer them to [relevant] places for counselling. There is a boy in Gugulethu who touched me. He is HIV+ and is always sick. He is [in and out of the] hospital. I was so worried when the doctors said they are going to stop him from taking ARVs because he doesn’t improve, but through our prayers, I again heard that there is doctor who said he wants to monitor him and he is not stopping medication. I think [his] story is touching everybody because he is really a fighter. That is not something nice. People might think we are happy because we have accepted our statuses and our families do, but what about the fact that [we are] going to be on medication for the rest of [our lives]? [the s]truggle continues

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