'Takalani Sesame' muppet boosts HIV sufferers

Time of article published Oct 14, 2008

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By Nontobeko Mtshali

Children at the Soweto Hospice and Mapetla Day Care Centre have had a chance to meet one of the stars of Takalani Sesame, Kami, the world's first HIV-positive Muppet.

Kami visited the children on Monday to celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, themed "Hospice and palliative care: a human right".

Nikiwe Dube, the daycare supervisor, said characters like Kami play an important role in helping children affected by HIV and Aids understand their situation and not feel alienated.

"Seeing Kami take her medicine makes the children see that it's normal to take medication," said Dube.

Jeffrey Molawa, the project manager of Takalani Sesame, said the programme also assisted parents who find it difficult to explain to their children about HIV and Aids.

"Kami is a 5-year-old who is passionate about life. She is an important tool with which parents can sit down with their children and explain Aids and its impact," Molawa added.

In line with informing the community about Aids, the hospice also educates the patients' families and caregivers to enable them to take care of the children when they are discharged from the hospice and incorporated into the home-based care system.

The hospice's aftercare in Mapetla provides daycare facilities for children whose parents or guardians are sick and unable to take care of the children.

Despite the financial difficulties - because the daycare's services are free - Dube said every child had a right to education.

"You can't say you're taking care of children if you don't give them basic education," she said.

Dr Louisa Ferreira, who works at the hospice's paediatric palliative care ward, said they aim to help the children holistically by not just treating the children's illness but also improving the quality of their lives.

"Even though we cannot improve the quantity of their lives, we can change the quality."

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