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New beginnings

Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust’s care workers are providing an essential service in KwaZulu-Natal as part of NACOSA’s Community-based Violence Prevention and Linkages to Response programme funded by USAID and PEPFAR. Care workers like Qondeni Ntinga link orphaned and vulnerable children to care, treatment and ongoing support services.

In May, 14 year-old Sipho* and his three year-old sister, Mbali* lost their mother to an AIDS-related illness and had to move over 50km from their rural homestead just outside the town of Pietermaritzburg to live with their gogo (grandmother) in Shongweni. This was a traumatic time for the children who had to get used to a completely new life and surroundings while at the same time dealing with their grief.

Sipho, who was born HIV positive, had been receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment from his local clinic in Pietermaritzburg and doing well. But when his mother passed away and he moved, he defaulted on his treatment because his Gogo did not have the necessary referral letter from the clinic in Pietermaritzburg.

Qondeni Ntinga, a careworker from the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust, visited Sipho’s home in Shongweni and offered her help to his gogo to get the matter sorted out as quickly as possible. Sipho’s gogo was extremely relieved and grateful for the assistance as she did not have the money to travel to Pietermaritzburg herself.

In addition to getting the referral letter needed to get Sipho reinitiated onto ARV treatment at his new clinic in Shongweni, Qondeni also visited his old school and arranged for a referral letter to help smooth the way for Sipho to start at the local school.

Three months later and Sipho and his little sister, Mbali are both doing well and have settled into their new lives. Gogo has been given information on the importance of Sipho staying on his ARV treatment and feels much more confident in caring for him now that she has been linked to an ongoing care and a support system through the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust and the local clinic.

“I am so happy my grandson Sipho is back on treatment and enjoying his new school. This project has helped us become a family. ”

*Names have been changed to protect our beneficiaries’ identities.

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By Claire Hodgkinson, Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust