Gogos to march for rights

2016-07-12 06:05
One of the many gogos in the Valley of 1000 Hills who carry the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren Photo: supplied

One of the many gogos in the Valley of 1000 Hills who carry the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren Photo: supplied

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MORE than 1 500 elderly women will march through Durban on Saturday morning 16 July to highlight their rights and concerns on the eve of the 2016 International Aids Conference (#AIDS 2016).

The gogos from the Upper Highway and Valley of 1000 Hills will join gogos from across Durban to raise awareness of the challenges they face and the need for better recognition and support.

Gogos are frequently the sole breadwinners for their families and shoulder the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren, many of whom have been impacted by HIV/Aids.

One who will be marching on Saturday is 68 year old Nokuthula Vezi (name changed) from Molweni. Nokuthula has a passion for raising awareness about preventing HIV infection, having lost five of her 10 children to HIV/Aids, and seven of her grandchildren. She has to rely on her small pension and selling second-hand clothes to support her remaining 13 grandchildren and daughter.

“Once I knew that my children had died one by one from Aids, I did all I could to tell people to learn their status. I still raise awareness and tell people to get tested and take their medication, and I go with them to the clinic”, said Nokuthula.

“I am very happy about our march because we need to tell people about the problems in our communities, and let them know how much we do to help.”

Nokuthula will have to get up in the dark and walk two kilometres to catch a bus to Durban’s Garden Court (Marine Parade), where the march will start at 8am.
“I have already got my whistle ready and am very excited. I will be jumping and skipping when I march through Durban with the other gogos. It is something very special.”

Organising the march is just one of the logistical challenges facing Hact and its partners. Twenty-one buses will have to transport the gogos to Durban from 17 different communities to get the Gogos to the start on time.
At the end of the march the gogos will present a statement to government at a special ceremony at Durban’s International Convention Centre in the presence of the UNAids executive director, Michel Sidibé, and other high profile guests. Also marching will be the gogos who took plart in the recent Gogolympics.

Gogos from Hact’s dressmaking school will also be marching. More than 60 gogos a year attend the school in KwaNyuswa, where they learn to make cushions, blankets, dresses and school uniforms - skills to help them to make a small income.

“We work alongside more than 2 000 Gogos across the Valley of 1000 Hills. We visit them at home and encourage them to look after their health and join support groups that take part in income-generating activities,” said Cwengi Myeni, Gogo Support Group manager at the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust.

“We want to bring the rights and achievements of these selfless ladies to the attention of our leaders and the world. They are the backbone of our communities, but this isn’t often recognised.” - Supplied.

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