NGO urges Khayelitsha residents to live healthy lives

Know your status and lead a healthy lifestyle – that was the message at a World Aids Day event in Makhaza.

Yabonga, an NGO, held the event on Saturday, on the eve of World Aids Day on December 1.

The organisation, which helps families infected and affected by HIV/Aids, also used the occasion to celebrate the opening of its children centre and the graduation of student volunteers from a youth-and-gap-year programme at the centre.

Yabonga’s co-founder and managing director Ulpha Robertson said their HIV programme had been started by women living with HIV 20 years ago, at a time when there was no promise of ARVs or any other kind of medical support.

Since then, she said, they had grown to educate hundreds of mothers and children affected or infected by HIV .

World Aids Day, she said,was important not only for those struggling to stay alive because of the disease, but also for those ignorant of their status because they were more vulnerable than those who did know.

The day was also about paying homage to those who had died of Aids, she said.

“We enable children, youth and adults – disadvantaged through socio-economic circumstances and the impact of HIV – to change their lives for a better future.

“We recruit women who live with HIV and train them to be peer educators and child-care workers.

“Our programmes aim to rebuild families.”

She said there was now a lot more education and a lot less stigma surrounding HIV than there had been 20 years ago.

“Giving hope to people who thought they were going to die is a key success,” she said.

Ward councillor Zwelijikile Simbeku said the organisation had done a very good job educating people about HIV and Aids.

Everyone needed to play their part in the fight against Aids and he urged esidents to lead a healthy lifestyle and protect themselves.

Student Sikhululekile Veni, 18, said she had joined the youth-and-gap-year programme to make a difference in someone else’s life.

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