Friday, December 14, 2007

Report from South Africa

Thembalethu and ST. Mary's Hospital

Vic and Lorraine Parsons have just returned from Thembalethu Orphanage in South Africa. They have also visited St. Mary's Hospital. These are the two projects that we support in South Africa.

Here is Vic's first note to African Aids Angels.

It is a constant source of amazement to the people we visited in South Africa how much Canadians, and I presume other people in the world, care about the African AIDS pandemic. They cannot seem to comprehend how much, and why, we care about them. Everywhere Lorraine and I went, we were embraced as sister and brother to them, and when tried speaking a few words of our pitiful Zulu, they would break out in broad smiles and often hug us. Let no one ever tell you, our brave volunteers, that you don't make a difference!

On our return this week we read about the stupendous effort of the students in raising $3500, and the house sales results, Great work!

There is so much that has been done, and so much to accomplish. We visited St Mary's Hospital last week and got in-depth explanations of where our funds go in the Born To Live program, which provides ARVs to pregnant mothers to prevent mother-to-child trasmission of HIV. Since the program started, 3000 mothers have participated in the program, and 4,000 babies are involved, with a success rate of 95 per cent. The South African government, with funding assistance from the US, now provides these drugs to the mothers. Where our money goes is to a vital part of the program, that is, counselling and outreach to make sure that the mothers are taking the drugs properly. Many of the mothers have very little education, have lives that are very disruptive, and there is risk that if the drug regime is not followed the program would fail. The hospital authorities say this is just about an important part of the program as the drugs themselves.

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