HACT Staff and patients gathered on the 1st December 2020, for an extra special candle-lighting ceremony to mark World AIDS Day as well as 30 years of providing unconditional love and hope to people impacted by HIV/AIDS.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team was sadly forced to postpone its plans for a major anniversary celebration this year and opted instead for a small gathering which was held outdoors in the Centre’s beautiful memorial garden. As HACT’s CEO, Candace Davidson explained; “While we were all initially excited at the prospect of commemorating this important milestone with our friends, donors and partners from around the world, our team agreed that this was not the time for big celebrations, but rather an opportunity for reflection and solidarity in the wake of what has been a very difficult and challenging year for us all, especially those HACT exists to serve…”
Originally founded in 1990 by the Hillcrest Methodist Church, HACT was one of the first NGO’s in South Africa to respond to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic and has since grown into a dynamic, multi-faceted organisation whose holistic and innovative approach to assisting those infected and affected by the disease has seen them win multiple awards over the past three decades including the prestigious Dira Sengwe Leadership in AIDS Award in 2015 and a national Impumelelo Social Innovation Award in 2017.
While HACT’s projects and services continue to grow throughout KwaZulu-Natal, the organisation still focuses on the local disadvantaged communities of the Valley of 1000 Hills. Here, the HACT’s work directly impact the lives of over 10 000 people every year, the majority of whom are women and orphaned and vulnerable children and young people.
Speaking at the moving candle lighting ceremony where 54 candles were lit, one for each patient HACT’s team had lost in their care over the past year, HACT’s Chairlady and registered Nurse, Sister Julie Hornby commented on the remarkable journey the organisation has been on since its humble beginnings in a rusty container on the local church’s property. “As an organisation, HACT has always tried to be responsive, growing and adapting our projects as the needs of our beneficiaries have evolved with the epidemic. From providing free inpatient care to those in advanced stages of the disease who have no-one to care for them at home, to supporting rural grandmothers struggling with the financial and emotional burden of caring for their orphaned grandchildren, responding to epidemics in a practical and sustainable way is what HACT excels at.”
In closing, Julie added that there is much progress that both HACT and South Africa can celebrate in terms of fighting the disease, “however, the fact we still have children and adults dying of HIV/AIDS right here in our 24-bed Respite Unit of what is now considered a chronic and manageable disease, shows that we still have a long way to go and the fight is far from over…”
HACT continues to be reliant on the goodwill of the general public to continue its many life-saving and life-changing projects. “All of HACT’s projects are completely reliant on the generosity of the public and we continue to be blown away by the kindness and support of all our local and international donors and partners who share our vision of an AIDS-free South Africa.” added HACT’s Marketing & Fundraising Manager, Claire Hodgkinson.
Click here (https://www.hillaids.org.za/support-us/donate/) to make a once-off donation to HACT today.