South Africa

Durban will be forever be imbedded in my mind with wonderful memories of its youth who walked with me to warn their peers about HIV/AIDS.  Lloyd (18) and Gugu (22) are friends who volunteered their time as part of the red-shirted conference crew.  I spoke at their church youth meeting in the black township of Umlazi and they have become active PeerCorps workers.  Nolan, an 18 year-old who assisted the Conference photographers, as did Aurelia, 15, invited me to speak in their respective schools and share the delights of Indian curry at Nolan’s parent’s house.  Michael (23) and Christopher (16) took me through their mixed-race township of Wentworth to meet youth after first speaking to their church’s youth group the night before.  Siblings Lee (17) and Stacey (13) invited me to meet their schoolmates after a poolside discussion with David, Damien and Steve in the upscale, white neighborhood of Westville.  Faith, a 31 year-old single mother of one and newspaper reporter, escorted me to Banbanyi, a squatter camp north of Durban after doing a story about my global walk coming to South Africa.

Mohammed, a 15-year-old from Johannesburg in town to help his granny at her small restaurant, spoke of the need to inform his soccer buddies about HIV.  There were the young Afrikaner sailors, Marc and Sakel, interested in learning the facts about the sexual transmission of HIV to tell their fellow seamen before their training cruise to Capetown.  And Pamela and Princess  (both 17) who gave up their window-shopping at the Umlazi Center to hear about AIDS to tell their girlfriends.  Ayanda (19) and Tambeso (19), security guards at the conference, took me to their Zulu township of Kwa-Mashu; while surfers Collin and Glendell brought me to their working class, white neighborhood of Austerville. Msizi, 21 and underemployed, was my guide to the Zulu homelands in the countryside hundreds of kilometers north of Maritzburg and Greytown.  I wanted to bring all of these great young people together as a team in their neighborhoods but it wasn’t to be this year in South Africa.  But we all gathered together for a pizza and coke party at North Beach before I left.  Eighteen year olds Barry and Pierre, the youth mayor of Durban, are keeping the group together and speaking at area schools.”

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