When someone says Africa, most people think of 2 things. The first thing many people think of is poverty and hunger, which we are addressing directly with our project. The second is HIV/AIDS. On Thursday, August 12, 2010 we went to Morning Star, a day-time care facility for children living with HIV. When we arrived we were greeted by a worker who explained everything they do at the facility. In the morning they go around to pick up about 90 children, starting with younger school children, all the way down to newborns. The children are provided with a wonderful all-day care facility which includes pre-school lessons. When they are old enough they go to a local school but maintain ties with the facility for birthday celebrations and medical care. Schooling is also available for primary grades for children who are not well enough to attend regular school. The children are fed good nutritious meals, given lots of outside and inside play time as well as rest time and daily lessons. A full time nurse is also available to provide care, and a doctor is on site to provide care and medicine at no charge to the children. After a tour we were shown a separate area where they teach the mothers and caregivers of the children to sew and do other crafts to give them extra income.
After having a chance to browse and buy the beautiful pillowcases, aprons, t-shirts and bags we were welcomed to join in with the children’s playtime. As soon as I knelt down close to the children I had one little boy tackle me in one of the most warm and loving hugs I have ever had. These children were the most happy, loving, caring, energetic young children I have ever met. They all wanted to be picked up, hugged, cuddled, and treated as the adorable children they are. After about 15 minutes I had completely forgotten that these children were infected with this horrible disease. They were as normal as anyone. The games kept up for hours, the children outlasting us all. By the time we left, all our hearts had been warmed with joy, love, and zest for life.
By Joyce Berkers
For more information about Morning Star, visit their website at : http://www.morningstar.org.za/