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We will overcome

We have experienced so much loss over the past year – personally, as a community, a country and globally. Just this week we learned of the passing of one of our advisory board members and AIDS activist, Andrew Mosane, and the death from COVID of a true stalwart of the AIDS response, Dr Arthi Ramkissoon.

We have lost not just the pioneering spirits, the activists and the heroes on the frontline, we have lost those vital human connections that hold us steady in times of trouble. We have sacrificed so much to keep our loved ones and community safe. Our children have lost out on education and friendships. Many thousands have lost their livelihoods. And our healthcare and community health workers, as well as other frontline workers, have carried the biggest burden of all.

The collective grief and trauma of the COVID pandemic will be with us for many years to come.

But we should all take heart. We are a resilient nation full of proud, passionate, compassionate people and a thriving civil society that has bravely led the charge on turning the tide on HIV and AIDS. We will do the same with COVID-19.

COVID-19 has forced us to do things differently, to innovate and adapt and, in some cases, to find better ways of doing things. Our scientists and researchers have used all their experience of dealing with HIV and AIDS, to shine on the world stage. Our community organisations and care workers were able to rapidly get out into communities to support the screening, testing and tracing efforts. Their contribution has been immense.

With vaccines due to arrive soon, we have an end in sight. Let us all come together as civil society and support the vaccination effort, as well as continuing to encourage and practice wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

For those struggling dealing with grief and trauma, Npower has set up a 24-hour Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Helpline specifically for NPOs:

0800 515 515

We will overcome COVID and slowly return to normal life. Let’s all hold each other (virtually!) until we get there.

Tips for dealing with grief and trauma

  • Acknowledge your pain.
  • Accept that grief and trauma can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  • Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
  • Seek support from people who care about you.
  • Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically – practice self-care.
  • Seek help if you are struggling to cope with your feelings: talk to a therapist or counsellor or join a support group.