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HIV/AIDS Reality

By , Westport, CT
“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” Sung the ten children in front of me. Their voices filled the whole and their little bodies bubbled with excitement. Their faces glistened with delight after reciting the information on the various posters around the room.

I am spending the fall semester of my sophomore year in high school in Southern Africa with a program private high school. Throughout the semester eleven other students, four teachers and I are exploring Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

Two and a half months into the trip we boarded our big blue truck and set off for Zulu Fadder. Which is a program that offers a place where orphans can go and receive meals and some basic education. However, Zulu Fadder does more that just that, they also offer a safe environment with loving people to support the kids. When our truck turned up to the buildings over one hundred kids gathered around waving and running along side the truck. The truck door opened and their voices flooded into the open door and windows. We stepped out one by one and instantly our motherly instinct overtook and we had no choice but to lift them onto our hips. The kids enthusiastic energy reflected into our group that we now playing with the kids around us. We walked over to a large building and volunteered to set up the chairs in rows. We placed the kids on the floor only to have them follow us and constantly try to hold onto our hands. As soon as the chairs were set up we were led out with about ten kids around us to be shown their classroom. Their faces seemed to glow steadily brighter with pride as they recited the content of the posters. We exited the classroom and returned to the eating hall to serve lunch.

We handed out plates of Pop, a traditional food made with millemel, and stew to the hungry kids. My TTS friends and I sat on the edge of a stage at the front of the hall watching them all eat. As more of them finished they approached us again. One little girl in particular in a dark blue rain jacket was sitting staring at our group. I smiled at her and she stood up to make her way over to me.

She spent the rest of the hour that we were at Zulu Fadder holding my hand and being my shadow. Although I only new her for a few hours, I have full confidence that I will never forget her. We didn’t talk much as language was a large barrier therefore I can only imagine what her life is like. All I know is that she didn’t have her parents and all her clothes cane from donations. Back at home is this happened to someone they would complain about it and want you to feel sorry for them. However if I didn’t now her background I don’t feel she would have told me without me asking. Our teachers came and told us it was time to go and we made our way over to the truck. I slipped my hand away from hers and gave her one last hug. She will always reminded me of the reality of HIV/AIDS have on people and the privileged I am. I pulled myself up onto the truck and we started to roll away, I glanced back only to see her hands above her head sending one last wave.

The few hours we spent at Zulu Fadder were filled with laughter and smiles. This shocked me as I was expecting more of a grim underlying atmosphere that is usually associated with HIV/AIDS. I was presently surprised that even though the reality of HIV/AIDS was right in front of me it was still such a joyful, uplifting place to be. I know what impact she had on me but I can’t help thinking now I impacted her by coming into her life for a few hours?





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Hello There said...
Jan. 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm
I really loved this article! It gave me goosebumps just to hear you say the little girl gave one last wave.
 
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