ALISON LONGSON JUNE REPORT

What a delightful visit we had from Eunice Mangwane from South Africa! Those of us that had the pleasure of meeting her and hearing her stories felt we had been given a very special experience. Eunice is an engaging speaker with a true gift for storytelling. From her we learned in a very immediate way the many ways in which HIV/AIDS has impacted – and continues to impact –  both herself personally and the lives of the communities that she lives and works in. She told us about the long and patient struggle she had in the early days of the pandemic to try to educate and help people understand the scourge of the disease. Over and over again, she met with resistance, disbelief and even hostility but little by little, she made progress. And now the project she works for, Keiskamma Trust in Eastern Cape, employs over 50 health care workers who continue with the education, and ensure that people can access the vital care they need.

If you would like to know more about Keiskamma Trust, take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N_SzxMjX5o. It is well worth watching. In it, you will meet Eunice again and learn more about the handcraft project that has become world famous.

We are blessed that the Stephen Lewis Foundation makes sure we are able to meet some of our partner Grandmas like Eunice, face to face. In this way, we can have the opportunity to really learn and understand more about their lives, struggles and hopes. It makes what we do to support them all the more meaningful and important. Instead of talking about distant sisters and partners, we can form real connections.

Eunice singing “Never Give Up”

Eunice had many messages for us. In her wonderful expressive way, she told us, “You are kangaroos. You carry us in your pouches and we can’t do what we do without your support”. She used song to entreat us to “never give up”. When I took her to Carstairs to meet with the Grandmothers group there, she told them, “Today I’m coming to put new soles under your feet so you can move fast. New soles give you energy”. I know that I often feel I need a boost of energy and when that happens, I’ll remember Eunice and picture her new soles under my feet to help keep me going.

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