I have an amazing friend, we studied together, celebrated the end of each semester with a glass of white wine and a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich and completed our degrees together. She went on to complete her Masters in Psychology and qualified as a Counselling Psychologist, I dabbled in the world of advertising, human resources and ended up with motherhood as my fulltime career. I admire her. She’s my angel friend and its a title she deserves.
Life is very busy for both of us but we seem to make a moment for a very lengthy annual phone call and this year after we had spoken I was humbled. I always knew she was doing work with the Hospice down the South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal but never fully understood what it all entailed.
She works on the “Memory Box Workshop” and I am going to copy the description of what its aim and purpose is from the www.betterplace.org website.
”HIV/AIDS is having a devastating effect on families in SA today and children are paying a heavy price: they are experiencing multiple losses as their circles of care break down. These children are highly traumatized by the loss of parents – many of them witness the physical deterioration, even the actual deaths. Ordinarily, children’s natural bonds with their parents provide them with their personal, social & cultural identity. After the trauma of death many children face severe emotional instability; the risks include withdrawal, destructive behaviour, learning difficulties & depression. A solution showing significant positive results in increasing resilience in affected children is engaging the children in a memory work programme. A Memory Box workshop develops the children’s psychosocial well-being, essential for their survival. Also, the children whose needs have been met can help by providing emotional support to siblings & peers; they will also take part in other activities encouraging them to realise their full potential. The essence of memory work rests on the idea that it is good for the child to know his family story, however painful, on condition that this history is recounted in a warm, non-judgmental setting. They access this knowledge through memory & for the grieving process to unfold in a meaningful way the children’s perceptions & feelings need to be validated by supporting adults. The main aim of this intervention is to provide AIDS orphans with life skills that enhance their resilience so they cope better in life. A 5-day Memory Box workshop will be held in the school holidays following funds being received; 15 children will participate under the supervision of 2 qualified staff. Transport will be provided to & from their homes to a community hall where the workshop is held. All materials, memory boxes, Duduza dolls, photos & 2 meals/day will be provided.”
My friend explained to me that in our society we see grieving as a right, but in these rural areas where poverty is high, grieving is a luxury.
“When you are the 5th grandchild to sit at Gogo’s (grandmother’s) table and needs to be fed, Gogo has no time to worry about your feelings, she is too busy being worried about finding more food to feed you and the rest of the children.”
I admire the work that this organisation is doing for those left behind, they are taking little lives and hopefully providing them with a turning point.
So today, as we remember those who have lost their fight with HIV/AIDS and support those who are living with HIV/AIDS , I want to remember the angels out there, who are dedicating their work, to making a difference in the lives of those whose worlds have forever been changed due to this devastating virus.