Fri Oct 21 23:59:22 SAST 2016

Making a difference

By unknown | Apr 10, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Nthabisang Moreosele

Nthabisang Moreosele

In 2003 Iris Lawrence responded to an outcry about the unacceptable number of Aids deaths in her Mpumalanga community.

Many young couples were dying and leaving behind affected and infected offspring at Schoongezicht in Witbank to fend for themselves.

There was a need to look after the children and give them an education. So Lawrence began educating the community about HIV-Aids and how to look after orphans. Later she founded the Hope for the Nation Agency.

Today the agency's 16 volunteer workers look after 250 orphaned and vulnerable children, patients and child-headed households.

It offers home-based care, voluntary counselling and testing, condom distribution, nutritional supplements and one meal a day. There is also aftercare for the orphans.

"We want them to grow up with a sense of responsibility and identity and to love and respect themselves," Lawrence says.

Sowetan's Mama Angel and Sowetan columnist and Aids activist Lucky Mazibuko donated more than 20 bags of clothes to the agency. Most of the clothes came from people who listen to Mazibuko's JoziFm Be Positive show.

Lawrence, overwhelmed by the gifts, says: "God bless you. I don't know what to say. I can't thank you enough."

Lawrence says: "About 60percent of our community is unemployed and poor. This is crippling the youth. There is a high rate of infection and teen pregnancies."

She spends a lot of time visiting patients at clinics and hospitals, and at Home Affairs to help people get documents.

"People need documentation to access state organs and anti-retrovirals. HIV-Aids does not kill if you are tested and get medication. Denial and not testing kills," Lawrence says.


Login OR Join up TO COMMENT