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When Tsebo Outsourcing Group staff were challenged to make World AIDS Day 2010 one that would raise awareness of testing, treatment and hope for those affected and infected, those from Sunward Park Hospital rose to the occasion.

Not only did the staff members promote awareness, they gave encouragement to people currently living with the disease, and support to those who have lost loved ones.

With a spend of just R176.00, Tsebo Outsourcing group staff proved that attitude and love are more important than high finance: A table was set up in the Sunward Park Hospital reception area and biscuits with the red ribbon logo in red organza bags offered a particular message or verse for recipients.

Amid the candles glowing on the table were blank cards for people to write a message on and pin it to the cork board on the wall. They could also light a candle in memory of a loved one and choose and educational pamphlet in three languages.

Tsebo Outsourcing Group staff were ably assisted and encouraged by Netcare staff, the public, hospital security and many patients. Tears were shed as stories were shared and memories relived. The staff remembers, in particular, an elderly lady patient coming close and leaving a few times. Finally, this lady gathered the courage to tell Tsebo Outsourcing Group staff that she had lost her son to an AIDS related illness, at Sunward Park in October this year.

A candle was lit and simple, painful words adorned a card she placed on the board: “I miss you my son. From Mom.” Such is the devastating sadness of this disease. In the spirit of hope, however, some 400 red ribbons and over 300 biscuits were handed out. By the end of the day, Tsebo Outsourcing Group staff counted 467 cards on the board . . . “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito”; “Education is the movement from dark to light”; and “We cannot live only for ourselves – a thousand fibres connect us” were just some of the messages left behind.

The Tsebo Outsourcing Group and Netcare staff agreed that the day had left them moved – and filled with hope that they had reached out to people who needed them. What an incredible tribute to those who have paid the terrible price of HIV/AIDS, and to those who know there is great hope for their future…

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