Aids day at Hope House (Manzini, Swaziland)

This year we celebrated "Aids day" a few days' earlier. We gathered last Friday morning at "Hope House", our diocesan hospice, a real place of hope where 80% of the patients go back home.

Our Caritas Director, William Kelly, gave the opening remarks reminding us that whatever we do today, should go beyond this day. We want to make HIV/Aids history.

I was then asked to light the "Aids Candle". It reminded me of my time in the different parishes I serve (Pongola, Madadeni and Daveyton) where each Sunday a candle would be lit during the prayer of the faithful as a silent reminder of all those affected and infected by HIV/Aids.

We light candles to celebrate the gift of life at our birthdays, to remember those who are no longer among us... In a special way we do it on our Easter Vigil to celebrate that Jesus is risen. He is our light. All these things were present when we lit our candle on Friday.

The "Jabez School of Excellence" delighted us with a Christmas' play. "God is beautiful" the angel said to Mary and asked us all if we were amazed too at what had happened. They then distributed their gifts to the children of Hope House.

The small ones from St John Bosco pre-school came from Malkerns shared with us a couple of items: the "Farmer John" drama about a farmer whose seeds were being eaten by birds and later on a cultural dance.

NERCHA (National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS) was represented both by Mr Sydney Nkambule (NERCHA Manzini) and by the director Mr Khanya Mabuza who had been with us last January when the SACBC Aids office launched the book on 30 years of Catholic responses to Aids.

We were then reminded that the fight is still on. We need to reach "zero" new infections, "zero" discrimination and "zero" Aids related death. We've had no greater challenge than Aids. A productive generation has been taken from our country. As the fight is being won one needs to be aware that it should not happy like in other countries where, after keeping under control, it started to come back again.

Fr George Massa IMC arrives at Hope House
Dr Ngoie Mulume from our St Theresa's clinic spoke at length and in a simple way about HIV/Aids and the present situation where Aids and Tb are present together. He also reminded us all that we are all candidates to get it. No one is excluded and that is why we need to be aware.

Lungile Dlamini, CEO of Manzini City Council spoke about their wish to sponsor one of the houses and that "God is love and he has not forgotten you. Reach for his unending love!".

Great sound of marimbas!

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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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