Doctors to walk 1?700?km to spread hope on HIV

2009-07-16 00:00

A GROUP of Pietermaritzburg medical interns are embarking on a 1 700 km relay walk from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg in a bid to raise funds for children’s charities and HIV centres in the city and around KwaZulu-Natal.

The 15-day walk, known as the Long Walk of Hope, starts on August 1, and will seek to raise HIV and Aids awareness among young people they encounter along the route.

One of the doctors, Dave Cloete, said the project is part of the Hope and Dream Trust initiative.

The trust’s vision is for a future generation of South Africans to be united by challenges overcome rather than divided by challenges neglected, Cloete said.

While there is nothing new about the initiative — there have been similar campaigns — Cloete said he and his nine colleagues hope their efforts will help to transform the thinking of young South Africans and challenge the misconceptions they may have of their inability to shape the future of their country.

He said the walks offer the interns a hands-on opportunity to engage different cultural groups directly and through pamphlets.

“The fact remains that HIV/Aids is a sinister illness with a high incidence in our country and it is still developing at a rapid rate.

“We will be visiting a lot of orphanages and HIV awareness centres along the way.

“We are hoping to make a positive impact that will start a domino effect and get other people to do the same,” said Cloete.

The doctors will be joined by four professional athletes and media and social workers, bringing the number of walkers to 15.

The chain walks will cover between 50 and 60 km or six to seven hours daily.

The group is expected to make at least 15 stops along the way.

Cloete said R150 000 has already been raised.

Most of the money will be shared among paediatric units in Pietermaritzburg and the remainder will go towards HIV centres.

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