Last week we went to visit the Khaya Centre Mount Olive in Lehae, Johannesburg - a community centre that Orange Babies supports directly. The Khaya Centre is an incredible space that helps those in need who are directly or indirectly affected by HIV. The centre caters for all ages - the day starts with toddlers arriving for school and as the day progresses the younger kids leave and the older ones arrive for after school activities. There is an on site kitchen and bakery which supplies meals to all these children. The centre also works with parents and grandparents - hosting informative discussions that educate and empower adults. The centre has a victim empowerment program, which primarily supports young rape victims, counselling rooms, a clinic, and other educational facilities including a library and computer lab.
As we walked around the centre with Valencia, the manager, she told us about individual cases. Last week they were testing 3 - 12 year old children for HIV. Out of the 74 children tested, 6 were HIV positive. A 9 year old boy from this group was already in hospital with severe tuberculosis, fighting for his life. Another child’s mother has refused for her 12 year old to receive treatment as its not part of her culture. The brother and grandmother are vehemently fighting for this child’s right to live.
Valencia, Thirza, Carol.
Despite the real and hugely serious issues faced at the centre on a daily basis there is a huge amount of positive energy and hope - the attitude of the people who work and volunteer, the faces of the children and the space itself offers an infectious feeling of warmth and love. Our donation to Orange Babies has gone directly to the clinic and used to purchase drugs that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It was a very special day for us and we would like to thank Orange Babies and the Khaya Centre Mount Olive for sharing their incredible work with us.