Dear Global Givers,
It is time for an update from Our Place-Coffee Bay, the center for people living with HIV-AIDS that we were able to open with your support.
We currently have approximately twenty children living with us, plus approximately ten adolescents and adults. All these people were no longer able to live with their biological families because of the consequences of poverty and AIDS. At Our Place they have become part of a new loving family structure where adults look after children as mother and father figures.
In addition to looking after our full-time residents, we are continuing to function as a community center offering free-meals, day care, counseling, and advocacy to the many people of the area who have been affected by the AIDS pandemic.
The children are on school holiday these days, but our kindergarten cafeteria is still open in order to provide healthy food to all the people who rely on Our Place for their sustenance. In addition to our residents, at least 15 children come to Our Place everyday to attend our kindergarten. Sadly, the biological families of these children are often too poor to feed them on a daily basis.
It is now winter in South Africa, and cabbage, spinach, and green peppers are some of the seasonal crops that we are now reaping from the vegetable garden that we started for the community. This project has made Our Place more self-sustainable by cutting down our operating costs. In addition, the garden is a very important resource for several families living in the area who are now able to work on the land. Thanks to the harvest, these people and their extended families can feed themselves with their work. As soon as our finances will allow, we will build some “vegetable tunnels” These are basic greenhouse structures that will help us generate a more abundant harvest. Each of these structures costs the equivalent of $700, and we need to build at least two in the area.
We also need to create an additional bedroom that would allow us to take in seven more children. In the area around Coffee Bay, the rate of HIV infection has reached apocalyptic proportions, and due to the conditions of extreme poverty that most people are forced to endure, the life expectancy is very low. Because of this, many children have lost their parents. Often, these children cannot be looked after by a member of their extended family because their aunts, their uncles, or grandparents might have also died of AIDS or they might be too poor to feed another mouth.
Since our last update, we have been able to build two more toilets, which we urgently needed, given the number of people who live and come to Our Place everyday.
We need to keep growing in order to meet the need for food, shelter, palliative care, and a caring family structure in the area. We need to strengthen our presence in Coffee Bay also because, by living with dignity, our people are role models in the fight against the stigma of HIV-AIDS in the community. Fighting the stigma is essential, as many of the victims of the pandemic are subjected to discrimination and abuse.
Thank you for making all this possible. Thank you from all of us, from the bottom of our hearts. And please, feel free to contact me. I will do my best to answer your questions.