World AIDS Day at Gugs Mall

People are passing by quickly.

A town, diverse and colourful. We are rushing through it on our way to Gugulethu Mall, to work with Sonke staff at an HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) drive for World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011.

Streets, busy and crowded. Long rows of houses seem crammed together.

A shopping mall, loud and hectic. We arrive at our destination.

A man hands us shirts and pamphlets. He briefly explains what the event is about. We already know, because we chose the event; we wanted to be part of it. We are engaging in the World AIDS Day campaign!

We go and search our ways through the mass of shoppers, handing out flyers, talking to people about the benefits of doing an HIV test.

“I am HIV positive.” Words many of us have never heard before in an open environment. While this might sound like a shocking confession to some, it shows the progression of HIV and AIDS campaign internationally and the developments made in the acceptance of HIV positive people in society.

The woman holds a baby in her arms while confessing that she is HIV-positive. She wants to give the best possible life for her child, but has no idea about treatment. She says that she has no hope for her future.

So we lead her to the Sonke stand, helping her empower herself.

When we see her in the queue smiling at us, we mention her situation to Leo Mbobi, the Cape Town Coordinator of Sonke’s flagship “One Man Can” programme. He becomes excited and gives her special attention.

The woman becomes visibly more relieved and relaxed while they are talking.

Information is power!

In this instance we experience the real interest in and need for knowledge. Even if sometimes people do not understand the given information fully, the first time they hear it, the seed must be sown.

At the end of the day, we are thinking about the woman with her child. We remember the hope in her eyes while she is smiling to us and Leo, who puts his heart and soul into provide working for this community.

Who can say that the change is not possible?

Leaving the shopping mall, driving through the streets, still busy and crowded. People sharing their lives.

We now see a town, diverse and colourful. We are driving through it quickly on our way to change.