RESIDENTS from the sprawling suburb of Wentworth, south of Durban, came out in their thousands on Monday to catch a glimpse of 13-time Grammy winner and R&B singer Alicia Keys.
The singer was in the area to open the Blue Roof Wellness Centre, once a notorious nightclub, as part of her Keep a Child Alive campaign, of which she is a co-founder and global ambassador.
Keys first visited the Blue Roof in 2006 and found a derelict building. The centre currently provides life-saving anti-retrovirals to 1000 patients as well as services that include HIV counselling and testing, home-based care, psycho-social support and a revolutionary nutrition programme through which they prepare free nutritious meals every day to patients and their families who visit the clinic, which is at the centre.
Speaking to the enthralled crowd she said: "I am so proud of this centre. It is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Way better than the World Cup."
The visibly pregnant star then made her way to a piano set up at the centre and sang two songs, much to the delight of the audience.
Pray for Forgiveness was dedicated to her mother Terri Augello, while I am a Superwoman was dedicated to the staff who run the centre.
She said the centre, which Keep a Child Alive bought in 2005, was a shining example of how people can "get love". She encouraged everyone to help in any way possible. She also said the centre would never turn anyone who needed help away.
She spent most of her time talking and playing with orphaned and HIV-infected children.
Before driving off in a heavily guarded convoy she greeted thousands of Wentworth residents who had gathered at the gate.