Meet a champion for children: Sara Brown, children’s programme manager in Kwa Zulu Natal

April 17, 2014

“What drives me is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they see my arrive in their homes. Watching them grow up into children who hold their heads up high and are happy.” Meet Sara!

Children with HIV should live like any other HIV negative child

That's in short our vision. We aim to have children who understand the HIV testing process and their status, who take charge of their health and do not suffer from stigmatisation. Children need to be respected and be included in their health choices, to grow up to be healthy adults in charge of their future and proud of themselves. 

An evidence based approach at grass root level

Our children's programme is well researched and evidence based. We measure impact statistically and record our failures and accomplishments. We know what we want to achieve and we alter our methods in order to ensure that our aims are accomplished. 

At Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust we believe that the community and children themselves have avoice when it comes to the care offered to a child. Our projects are planned at grass root level with the ultimate aim being that the communities themselves will one day take over the projects and run them.  

See the smiles on their faces

We serve a family in Molweni who is headed by a gogo (grandmother). She has lost all of her children to AIDS and is now responsible for five grandchildren. These grandchildren joined our programme in 2012 and have been served by us in many ways including HIV testing, education, food, school uniforms and bereavement counselling.

When I visit this family and see the smiles on their faces it makes my work so worthwhile. This is one of the many families who truly know that the staff at Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust really care about them and support them. 

Work together to create 100% effectiveness

There is very little records available of children's programmes across South Africa and abroad. Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust's programme has been well documented and we aim to publish our methods and findings in the second half of 2014. We would love other organisations to use our programme plans freely. If organisations work together then we can ultimately create a method that is universal and 100% effective. 

Communities’ ideas + respect = half the job

Most important lesson learnt in our approach is that the community needs to be involved in project planning right from the beginning. If you have their ideas included in the plan and have their respect then the job is half done. 

Children are the future

My dream for the children in the communities? I would love to see children who have a normal childhood: parents who love them and care for them, the ability to play freely outside without security risks and a high level of health. Children are the future! 

Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust is a non-profit, faith-based organisation founded in 1990, serving all those impacted by HIV/AIDS by providing unconditional love and hope in a practical, sustainable way. It currently serves almost 500 children across the Valley of 1000 Hills and aims to have healthy children who are both psychologically content and socially safe. Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust's services for children include HIV testing and treatment, home based care, educational support, palliative and respite care, HIV prevention and life skills education. Their parents/caretakers are furthermore supported with economic projects, gardening projects and support groups.



This article appeared in the STOP AIDS NOW! Children and AIDS e-news April 2014