The story below is taken from the website HIV AIDS Positive stories, an online support system and forum for those living with HIV/AIDS and their community. It highlights the necessity of breaking down the stigma against those living with the disease and how invaluable support systems are. At the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, in addition to the income generation project Woza Moya from which our products are made, one of the major projects is training women living with HIV/AIDS to be home based care givers for others living with the disease. This often gives support to individuals who may have been completely ostracized or alone. Moral support and care can make the biggest difference in fostering hope and strength to continue fighting the disease and to build a positive life.
Blessed with the looks of a top model, this stunning young lady attended the memorial service of a person died of AIDS related infections earlier this year, where she spoke strongly to all the mourners, especially community leaders and church elders about HIV/AIDS. But when she declared that she is also HIV-Positive no one could belive what she said, for she had that positive outlook and outgoing personality.
I then met the cool as a cucumber Busi from the South African Gauteng based township called Kwa-Thema at the National Association of People living With HIV/AIDS(NAPWA-SA) National Offices in Germiston, Johannesburg following an appointment for an interview. As we drove her back home after her day’s work, she opened up even more.
What is most sad and touching is that Busi (21 years old), but could not celebrate her 21st birthday anniversary like most other girls of her age.
“I was sexually abused by my uncle from the age of six and he further treatened to kill me if I ever told anyone. This continued until I was nine when my grandmother finally found out. After the ordeal I had gone through, I was taken to a clinic check-up, where the health workers suggested that I should also go for an HIV test. The results later confirmed that I was HIV-positive.”
At that time, Busi did not understand what HIV/AIDS was, because she was still young. It is only recently that she fully understands what was happening to her young life. All this because of the uncle she trusted and loved. To rub salt into the wound, when the case was opened at Kwa-Thema Police Station known as Habedi, there had been no follow-up and no one got arrested till today.
“I was fourteen years when I began to understand what was happening to me and I used to spend sleepless nights because I knew I was going to die. After joining the National Association of People living With HIV/AIDS(NAPWA) and started disclosing my HIV status last year (2001) I felt better and stronger.”
Busi is still a student at Tlakula High School, but already has lost most of her friends, some of whom would not want to share the desk with her. The only true friends she now has are those she met at the NAPWA Support Group at Kwa-Thema and the province of Gauteng, South Africa.
“My grandmother has been a pillar of strength that has encouraged me a lot. Also, my boyfriend has played a big role in releaving some of the stress and tension broaght about by the stigma attached to HIV. He is the other important person in my life that has never stopped loving me since we first met. He keeps on encouraging me through thick and thin. My eighbourhood has showed a lot of support as well. I am grateful to all the people that have never discriminated against me as before. “Although I feel healthy, when I do not, as a NAPWA members there is Dr. Clarence M. Mini in Germiston who is running his surgery and a NAPWA clinic that provides medical services to HIV positive people whao are unemployed, after being counselled at NAPWA National Office by the Counselling Coordinator. For next, my wish is to go back to school and register with Tlamoha College so that I can fulfil my dream of becoming an accountant.”
Busi would like to appeal to all those who are HIV positive to disclose their status and get in touch with the National Association of People living With HIV/AIDS(NAPWA) to get counselling and coping skills for positive living. “It is foolish to think of spreading the disease as revenge or wanting not to die alone. To those who are still HIV-negative I would like to say: “Do not discriminate against those who are HIV-positive, love them, care for them and give them all the support they need.
To join the nearest NAPWA Support Group you can contact this number
011 872 0975 or visit us at NAPWA HOUSE in the Corner of Knox and
Simpson Street in Germiston, South Africa.
Sent via Email, November 9, 2004 from South Africa.”
Can Ethical Fashion be just as stunning as the rest of your wardrobe? The answer is YES! Not only that ethical fashion is often sourced directly from artisans and crafters and is therefore even more likely to be creative, packed full of personality and of course, good will and karma. Check out for instance, Soko, winner of the 2012 ethical fashion awards for initiatives in Africa. All of Soko’s products are sourced directly from communities and artisans in Kenya.
If you’re interested in finding out more winners, browse through the ethical fashion forum winners here : http://source.ethicalfashionforum.com/article/source-awards-2012-the-finalists
A wise heart felt speech: Interrupted Lives by Amandla Mkhwanazi, victor against HIV/AIDS at HillCrest AIDS Centre:
There are 3.9 million people living with HIV globally and over 5 million South Africans are HIV positive. Regrettably, only 15,000 of the 5 million are on ARV’s on the government schemes. The average cost of ARVs is R560 per month for the masses that are infected. Many of these faces (who have become names to me) do not have or cannot afford to part with R560. SA is on the death grip of HIV/AIDS and a generation of African children’s lives (especially girls) is on the line.
Over the past 5 years i have had to face the scourge of this disease and I have had to look both the disease and death in the eyes. I have been pushed from my neatly, perfectly comfortable, privileged and perfectly boxed life and have been exposed to the coldness that surrounds this disease and sadly it is a grim reality. Over the past 5 years, a great deal of my fight with HIV/AIDS has been rooted in Chesterville, a community where my heart is at, the birth place of my father. Like many other townships, Chesterville is largely modernized, with running water, electricity, and every second house has a DSTV subscription! Safe to say, it is not on its knees and yet, statistics released from the Dept. of Health indicate that over half of the population in Chesterville is HIV positive.
Many children lose their parents and become AIDS orphans in this area. What are we doing as society to reintegrate these children back into society?
As I came to realize, society has become cold, distant, afraid, self-serving, self-seeking, selfish and greedy and just in case you were wondering, that is YOU and I. We have failed to look beyond our own needs and our own lives and have allowed inhumaneness and a lack of Ubuntu to cloud our judgments, our reasoning, our feelings. We have allowed apathy to shroud our hearts, our very selves.
Besides AIDS orphans, every minute a child is infected with HIV and every other minute a child dies from an AIDS-related illness. Not only are these children victims of irresponsible parents, coupled with that, they have become victims of a cold society. I have witnessed and can attest to the coldness of the human spirit especially to those that cannot help or defend themselves.
Has the global response been inadequate regarding children orphaned and living with HIV? ABSOLUTELY. Although the United Nations launched a campaign called “unite for children, unite against AIDS”, can we really expect that to bring about change? on its own, probably not. For the longest time ARVs have been focused on adults and I fervently believe that irrespective of how sick they are, children should be given the opportunity to live, to experience life, to take a shot at it, why? Because it’s their birth right, because they are the potential leaders of tomorrow’s Africa. To ignore this means to perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty, orphanhood and death.
5 years ago today, a friend of mine passed and left behind 3 children, aged then 8, 5 and 1. I have taken the 1 year old (who is now 6) under my wing as an adoptive daughter and what great joy that has been. It has definitely not served her but served me. It is forever true that as you build the house, the house builds you! She is such a fighter, she has silently taught me about a kind of courage I will not have to know. She literally grabbed life from the jaws of death. It’s been one hell of a journey, drenched in sunlight and sometimes shrouded by fog, but I’m ECSTATIC to say she is as of 3 weeks ago, now TB free and so we’re only just focusing on ARVs now (5 years and still counting). She has responded with great vigour and vitality to them with resounding success. She is for all purposes my little girl. It’s hard to say she is “lucky” but perhaps we can say she is one of the fortunate ones who might just survive this pandemic.
What have I learnt over the past 5 years?
1. We’re definitely NOT getting the message across. Because we’re preaching the wrong message. We have removed ourselves from God’s ways and his will that instead of teaching the youth about sex as a sacred union between man and wife we focus solely on safe sex. Until humanity returns to God’s ways, NOTHING and no effort to solve ANY of the world’s problems will be effective.
2. the highest risk of AIDS in SA is in women and children ( I’ve seen this in Chesterville). Women are not only more biologically prone to it but I have encountered on my trips to Masibambisane ARV clinic, that a great number of the women are married women, who were formally abstinent, currently faithful and presently positive. A condom is all that stands between her, her child and the disease and yet culturally, men think they have the right to cheat, this is pure patriarchy at its best.
3. Women are generally disempowered because of gender inequalities, they don’t have positive alternatives to negotiating safe sex, because at the end of the day, they have to choose between unprotected sex and seeing their children go to bed hungry or unprotected sex and being beaten for raising the issue. How can 2 hyenas and one springbok vote for what is on the dinner menu and still call it equality?
Our society has lost its humanness and has allowed corruption, discord and greed to take root at the Centre of our hearts. Why else do corrupt pharmaceutical companies refuse to allow cheaper generic drugs to be manufactured? Massive pharmaceutical companies have been enriched at the expense of human life. Surely where there’s a choice between enriching a company and saving lives, even if it’s just one life, it’s clear where the priority lies (or is it?). Sadly, our government and big companies are clouded and interested in only the bottom line.
Is this who we are as a people? Maybe what we should be looking for is not a cure for AIDS but a cure against corruption in the fight to find a cure against AIDS. All I am saying is that we all need to do our bit for mortal man instead of doing nothing. Find a way to give back in the fight against AIDS. As a society we must together concentrate our efforts in a new role not only for SA but for Africa as a whole. Although adequate aid has not been handed down in Africa, we must challenge our government to use money obtained from world charities better. We must challenge government to change the trade rules that favour the rich, we must challenge government to give priority to addressing the root causes of AIDS and improve basic conditions of sanitation and better education systems must be put in place as these go a long way to addressing the root causes.
I have learnt that a little bit of love and tenderness goes a mighty long way in this fight. It’s not my fight; it’s not snegugu’s fight, it’s OUR COLLECTIVE fight. I’ve also learnt there’s no end to the amount of pain caused by this disease. I’ve also learnt that HIV/AIDS comes knocking on doors of all of mankind and everybody. It’s not the government that needs to make the changes, it must begin with us.
For the longest time, everyone was just a statistic to me until a little angel came crawling into my heart and showed me she was more than just a statistic. Ask yourself, what you call yourself; what makes you human, what you are doing to contribute. As women, there are generations of generations in our wombs, the decisions you make today, reverberate to all eternity.
Craft Coordinator Paula at the HillCrest AIDS Centre Trust talks about the importance of empowering people living with HIV/AIDS and the power of the Woza Moya craft project to turn “victims into victors”.
Paula highlights the importance of treating not just the body but the spirit, heart and mind. By giving a creative outlet and a route to independence the focus is no longer solely on disease, but hope and life.
Check out some of our highlights from last seasons jewelry and accessory line! We feel like bragging today about them. All of our products are hand-beaded by women affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa as part of a generation project named Woza Moya at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre. They are incredibly well made using high quality glass beads that will hold their colour. We send all our profits directly back to the Hillcrest AIDS Centre where the funds are in dire need. For more information, please refer to our quick facts page earlier on our blog
This video on About.com demonstrates just how complex it is to hand bead an African Net Beaded Necklace. All of our products and accessories are hand beaded in similar techniques depending on the desired end product. We use high quality glass beads imported from the Czech Republic. The dexterity and eye sight required to finish these designs is absolutely remarkable. Some of our necklaces, like our signature Fluffy necklace, can take up to a week and a half to make for a skilled bead worker!
Fashioned for Change Artisan Buselaphi Gwala’s Story:
"Buselaphi Gwala is 50 years old, and has been beading since she was 16. She recalls being a girl when she learned how to bead, initially making clothes. She would sell these in the streets.
Buselaphi’s family includes her son, who is about 25 years old (Buselaphi only knows that he was born on the 14th day of the month). Also, her brother is 58.
Buselaphi has been making Little Travellers for two years, and she can make four in a day. Hers are very distinct, as they are made in traditional Zulu beading patterns.
According to Buselaphi, Little Travellers mean “empowerment”. She has made new designs, and Paula - the coordinator of the craft project at the Hillcrest
AIDS Centre - likes them. Buselaphi says that this has given her confidence and enabled her to expand her creative side with new designs.
Beading has made a positive impact in her life. It has made her the sole breadwinner of her household, and has enabled her to pay for electricity, and to purchase a stove, fridge and television. On average, Buselaphi earns R400 (~$70 Cdn) a week from making Little Travellers.
For fun, Buselaphi likes to stay home, do housework, and once in a while, visit a friend.”