Sunday, March 24, 2013

Volunteers needed

The following events are coming up in Victoria. Please volunteer now by emailing Brian Price at
Royal Roads - Mothers Day Paint-In

This annual event will be held on May 12 from 9.00-4.30. We will have a table and display, as we have in the past several years.

Volunteers are needed for 2-3 hour shifts . After you finish your shift you could take in the other artists at the Paint-in

Tillicum Mall

We will have a table at the Mall on Saturday, June 15 from  9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Volunteers are needed for the following shifts

  • 9.30-12.30 - 1 volunteer
  • 12.30-3.00 - 2 volunteers
  • 3.00-5.30 - 2 volunteers

In addition, if you have an opportunity to add a table or a few angels to another event, please let us know. Consider your workplace, tea parties, craft fairs, before or after Sunday service at church. This can really help our efforts.

Vic and Lorraine Parsons Africa report

From Jan. 30 to March 7 Lorraine and Vic Parsons visited Africa. During that time they visited the two projects in South Africa supported by funds from AAA. The following is a report:

St Mary's Hospital

Unit Mgr Khetho Njapha receives an angel
Lorraine with new Mom and baby

On Feb. 4. we were given an excellent, extensive tour of St.Mary’s Hospital just outside Durban, by Sister Nokwanda Bam, who is the deputy manager of nursing. She has been our contact at the hospital for the last year.
St. Mary’s is the only Level One hospital serving one million people living between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal province. On average about 100 people a day come to the St. Anne’s HIV clinic for treatment, assistance or counseling. Some days, this number rises as high as 200.

AAA funds have in recent years supported the counseling and monitoring-roles in the area of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT). St. Mary’s is recognized as a Centre of Excellence in this area.

Clinics vision and mission
  • How significant this program is can be judged by the fact that there are an average 450 babies born at St. Mary’s every month. In November and December, there were 355 live births to HIV+ women. Many of the women are co-infected with HIV and TB. Despite these high infection rates among mothers, very few babies have become infected when they are given their final tests at about 18 months of age.
  • There are many challenges facing the program: Lack of disclosure and discrimination against HIV+ people remains a problem; mothers are encouraged to attend clinics before they are 14 weeks pregnant but many do not; some mothers miss appointments and “clinic shop” so follow up is difficult;  mothers often do not have any support from their partners; some mothers stop taking their drugs and breastfeed their babies. Despite this, the PMTCT program is 95 per cent effective.
  • Another challenge is that on April 1, the US President’s fund for supply of AIDS drugs expires and the South African government will have to take over. Although the government has rejected the denial of a decade ago, it remains to be seen how the necessary drugs will be distributed. 
Thembalethu children’s shelter
: A group shot in the playroom
Older girls dancing
Chasing bubbles, a favourite pastime
Younger kids with assistant Fundi
  • On Feb. 6, we travelled to the Thembalethu children’s shelter to work with the children there for a little over two weeks. At the time we were there, there were 19 children in care. This was down from previous numbers. Several children had been taken in by extended family or foster parents over the previous week.
  • None of the children from when we were here in 2007 are still there, although some come back to visit, which to us is an indication of success.  There seems to have been great progress over five years, both at the shelter and in the local communities. The pre-school children now have activities to keep them occupied during the day, led by assigned younger Sisters, and those in school have far better marks and projects.
  • Some of the work we saw done by 10-year-olds were quite impressive. An important feature of the shelter is learning their Zulu culture, which includes dancing – punctuated by the impressive Zulu kick -  and songs. One thing I will never forget is the ABCs as recited by the pre-schoolers: A is for Apple; B is for iBanana, C is for iMoto, which sounds illogical unless you know Moto is the Zulu word for Car. As ever the children are beautiful and delighted to have visitors. Even though our stay was short compared with 2007, there was a great deal of emotion when we left.
  • On the Outreach side, much of the work is now being done by co-coordinators in the community who receive a modest stipend. Unfortunately, Sr. Gerarda who took over a couple of year ago in the running in the program is suffering from bone cancer. More positively, she has a number of strong assistants who can take over the program when needed. We were impressed by the new housing in the local settlement of Louisana. Those people now live in sturdy block housing as opposed to the mud houses that often collapsed in heavy rain when we were here last.
  • We were honoured to be invited to a school Sports Day held by the Outreach program. Lorraine and I thought we were getting in the way of photos being taken at the event, until someone said the photos were of Us! Several people said we were the only whites ever to come to this event, and they wished more would come to see what the children are doing