Columns & OpinionsRoosters wake me up, and a faint light comes through the small windows of my cabin. I briefly turn over, but wake up a little later because of a serenade of rooster calls. O well, it is time to get up anyway. I step into the kitchen of the main building and put on a kettle of water on the stove. With an empty bucket I head to the water tank and fill the bucket for a quarter with rain water. by Wil Groot
- 26 April 2019
| length: 4 min. |
|A World of Difference: South African Experiences|
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length: 4 minuten
We must be economical with water. According to volunteers, there are worms in the water tanks. “Good for extra protein. They were in there five years ago, and they never gave me anything.” I let the water run over my head and stand in a container to catch the water for reuse. I dump the remaining water at the red beetroot in the vegetable garden. Red beets are good for your resistance, and as an HIV positive man I listen to my body and give my soldiers (resistance cells) a little extra attention. Somewhat later I am enjoying a cup of coffee and see the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. Clearly it is going to be another beautiful day.
Within half an hour everyone is awake. The project is currently running on volunteers. The crèche that was built in 2011 for twenty toddlers has become too small. Currently there are forty-five toddlers registered. We give Montessori education. The little ones learn English in a fun way. There is a baby boom in South Africa. Classes at primary schools are filled to the brim, with between sixty and one hundred children in one class. Seventy-eight percent of the children around the age of ten cannot read or write their own language. When this became clear a year ago, we immediately started with homework help. Currently, there are sixty-three children registered for this.
South Africa continues to fascinate me. I got hooked to the country in 2007. As an HIV-positive man I made my dream come true. I wanted to help build a home for AIDS orphans. My goal was to share with them the tools I use to be able to live with HIV. I was faced with a bizarre reality. For example, there was that female Minister of Health who told us that beetroot is the medicine against AIDS. There was this medicine man who said that if a man is HIV positive, he should have sexual intercourse with a virgin, because then he would get rid of his HIV. In a Township I saw an exodus from a church and asked a fellow passenger what was going on. Five eight-year-old girls had been murdered after having been raped.
In 2007, I worked as a volunteer in a hospice. It was the last place for many who had AIDS and were cast out by their environment. People were taken from the streets ill, and orphans were dropped off in a bag at the front door. That is how I met Lidia. A gorgeous and sweet child, breath-taking, with a smile that radiated joy. Her dark eyes were as deep lakes. It was clear to me that she had experienced pain. A year later, Lidia died of AIDS. In 2007, only AZT was available for uninsured people. Because of low resistance, more and more people died because of the AZT. President Zuma promised, at the start of his presidency, that he would make sure that everyone would receive proper medicine. He has lived up to his word. At least one compliment to him.
The situation regarding HIV and AIDS in the South African rural areas is still far from good. A year ago, boys who heard that they were HIV positive committed suicide, because they thought that HIV was the same as AIDS. I also met a woman who told me that her daughters had died of AIDS. She did not even know they were HIV positive.
Life on the countryside in the Transkei is different. Most people live in huts, built of mud bricks and thatched roofs. Many have no electricity and no water. Every two kilometres there are wells where the women get buckets of water. However, this water supply is often disrupted. There are additional water tanks built for the community in the project we have founded. Yet many who live further down the road, depend on river water, which is polluted. Water, the first basic need of a human being.
Every time I’m back in South Africa, I have to fight the authorities when it comes to providing water. Again this time. There was very little rain over the past few months. The amount of water in the river is used by the cattle. However, there is a disease among the cattle. The animals should be treated, but there are no resources for this. As a development worker, I also commit myself to that.
There are four key points we adhere to: Taking care of impoverished children, medical support, agriculture, and self-reliance and education. The latter basically includes everything. Tools for healthy living I share with many on my path. Start your day with gratitude. Being positive is in my blood, so be positive anyway. Eat what is healthy for your body. Listen to music that makes you happy, and meditate. Hike and exercise. Dance, be creative and enjoy nature. Embrace yourself with love, and share that love with anyone who crosses your path.
Interested in Wil's adventures & support actions in Africa? Make sure to check www.willenendoen.com
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