Bringing joy to children affected by HIV-Aids

HAPPINESS: Emthonjeni Pathfinders with the goodies from Mama jAngel, Glenryck and Vicky's Catering. © Sowetan.
HAPPINESS: Emthonjeni Pathfinders with the goodies from Mama jAngel, Glenryck and Vicky's Catering. © Sowetan.

Nthabisang Moreosele

Nthabisang Moreosele

The Emthonjeni Awareness Centre in Evaton in Gauteng looks after children affected by Aids.

Counsellors prepare children and families as death approaches their loved ones.

The centre, which looks after about 500 children affected by HIV-Aids, is taking their charges camping, thanks to Glenryck Pilchards, which donated food and other goodies for the trip. Vicky's Catering Services in Soweto also gave 120 snack packs to the children.

Richard Mokgoko, an employee at Vicky's, said: "The children deserve to have a nice Christmas like everyone else. We are happy to help."

Pathfinder director Sizwe Morajane looks after the centre's toy library. She said: "We give pre-bereavement and post- bereavement counselling to people whose relatives die of Aids.

"We help with the drafting of wills, no matter how little the patients have. We also sort out issues of maintenance, IDs, birth certificates, and who will take over as the children's guardians.

"We also try to trace distant relatives because families, no matter how distant, helps the children to heal," said Morajane.

The centre has support groups for both the patients and their families to help them deal with any problem they face.

The children are given different methods of therapy because grief affects children in a different way. Children are divided into two groups, the Adventurers from birth to nine years, and the Pathfinders from 10 years to 16 years.

Morajane said: "We help the children find a path in life, help with their spiritual growth and teach them family values. We take them camping to get them out of their homes where the problems are. Outings give them a break from nursing their sick parents or relatives.

"We teach them how to handle house chores, and engage in team building because children often find it difficult to trust people after suffering trauma.

"They need to build their self confidence and to learn that human beings cannot live alone, but must be part of the community," said Morajane.

The children go to Emthonjeni everyday after school where they are given a meal. They are also given food to take home for supper and breakfast.

Psychologists visit the children at the centre and evaluate them. The children are also given career guidance lectures.

Caregivers visit the children at their houses to check if they have enough food and if they take breaks while caring for their parents.