This years’ Aids day commemoration at Hope House took place on November 30 as many other events would be held at local, regional and national level on December 1.
Somehow, Fr Larry McDonnel SDB (82) was the person most mentioned during the event and rightly so. He is the “founding father” of Hope House. “Only God knows how many lives you have saved with this initiative” someone pointed out.
After the opening prayer by Mrs Sithole he was asked to light the candle remembering those affected and infected by HIV/Aids and say a few words.
“This is our life. This is Christ, our life” he said.
Officially opened in 2001, Hope House is a unique project fruit not only of the work of the Catholic Church but of many other people. In fact, only working together we can conquer Aids. Thursday’s gathering was a clear example as some of Hope House partners were present. Among others:
- Mr Benedict Xaba (Director of AMICAALL and former Minister of Health)
- Mr Khanya Mabusa (Director of NERCHA)
- Mrs Lungile Manzini (Manzini CEO)
- Mr Bongani Shongwe (Manzini Deputy Mayor)
- Representatives of the Ministry for Health
- Representatives of “Doctors without borders”
The different speeches were a reminder of how far we have come. Every year Aids day commemoration brings back to our minds the difficult times when we helplessly saw people dying. Those times when there seemed to be no hope and the only resources we had was ourselves being close to the sick and giving consolation to the families of those who had died.
In fact, no other decease has challenged us like HIV/Aids did and still does.
Today the provision of ART makes HIV no longer a death sentence but the journey has not ended. There is still the need to make HIV a manageable decease. Swaziland still sees 3000 deaths a year which are Aids related. The number is still too high.
There is still stigma and discrimination. Maybe not as much as it was ten or twenty years’ ago but it is still present.
As the newly elected deputy mayor of Manzini pointed out: “in the fight against HID/Aids everyone counts”.
Click below for photos of the event