WATCH: St Francis provides ‘light’ for those lost to Aids

HIV positive activist Rika Ferris motivated guests and patients at St Francis Care Centre to love and support people who are living with the disease.

St Francis Care Centre in Boksburg also commemorated the day with over 50 people attending the ceremony including HIV Testing Services (HTS) officials, home-based care social workers, Boksburg North SAPS, Ramaphosa Clinic officials, St Francis patients and employees.

The St Francis Care Centre children provided entertainment with songs and dance performances.

Tilly Brouwer, the centre manager, explained what the day was about and spoke about their “Getting to Zero” theme.

“Events like these are there for us to remember those who have died because of the disease. I remember 13 years ago we were faced with a challenge of many deaths in the centre but I am glad now that things have changed and our patients now live a long life,” she said.

 

Bouwer explained that “Getting to Zero” means that they want to see people free from the infection and newborn babies not being born with the disease.

She said some of the challenges they face are patients who default on their medication once they see that they have gained weight.

Marilyn Neale and Lesley Weber (St Francis board members) attended the World Aids Day ceremony at St Francis Care Centre on December 1.

Nonkululeko Nyuza from HTS and Cebile Maseko from Home Based Care Services explained their services and shared some of their success stories.

Sgt Madumetja Matwetja from the Boksburg North SAPS expressed her love for the patients at St Francis.

HIV positive activist Rika Ferris said: “HIV positive people don’t need your sympathy but they do need your love.

Caroline Cilliers and Tilly Brouwer lighting a candle during the World Aids Day ceremony at St Francis Care Centre on December 1.

“I just want to thank St Francis. You were amazing when I started taking medication, you cared for and supported me. I sometimes gave them a hard time by telling them that I won’t drink these tablets for the rest of my life.”

She said now life is easy as they only need take one pill once a day which contains a combination of three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

St Francis patients Johannes Hynes and Rhulani Khoza shared their life stories of living with HIV.

Joan Hume (left), who started working at the St Francis Care Centre HR department in 1996 attended the World Aids Day ceremony. With her is Tilly Brouwer, St Francis centre manager.

Hynes said when he came to the centre he weighed only 59kg and now weighs 90kg.

Hynes highlighted that he has given his life to God and he praised the St Francis Care Centre for their hard work.

Bouwer encouraged people to understand the nature of the disease, its consequences, implications and the stigma attached to it and to show support to those affected.

The ceremony ended with a candlelight moment where each of the guests held a candle and everyone remained silent as they remembered those people who died of the disease.

St Francis patient Johannes Hynes spoke about being diagnosed with HIV.

Thereafter, guests had the opportunity to test for HIV/Aids, high blood pressure, diabetes and have tuberculosis screening tests conducted.

  AUTHOR
Ntombikayise Sibeko
Journalist

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