City of Johannesburg yesterday – on the eve of World Aids today – took part in a candle lighting
prayer service at the St Mary Cathedral Diocese to remember all the people who succumbed to the
disease and in support of those who are either infected or affected by it.
The service, held under the theme “Island of Optimism”, was also aimed at demonstrating commitment
to improving the lives of inner city children. The service was followed by a march to the Drill
Hall, where children were entertained.
It was attended by various organisations, including four of the City’s departments or entities –
the Department of Health and Social Development, Johannesburg Social Housing Company, the
Johannesburg Emergency Management Services and Pikitup – as well as Sonke Gender Justice, Love
Life, South African National Cancer Association, Wits Health Reproductive Institution, Child Line,
A Chance to Play, Terres des Hommes, Afrika Tikkun, Green Offices, Teddy Bear Clinic and Best Life
The City’s Region F’s Director, Irene Mafune, expressed her gratitude to the cathedral for its
endeavours to improve the lives of the children of the inner city.
Earlier, the Rev Charles May of the St Mary Cathedral pointed out in his sermon that children in
the streets should be treated as “our own children”.
“We are what we are because of the love of our parents. As we celebrate World Aids Day, we must not
forget those affected by HIV-Aids. This light symbolises the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re
giving you this light in order to see the light. We pray for these children of God and bless them
in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and wish them well,” he said.
Barbara Holtmann of STS Best Life For Every Child Group, which with the Johannesburg Child Welfare
played a major role in planning the day, commended the cathedral for providing a safe and happy
environment for the children.
She said the environment under which the children lived in the streets was not ideal and vowed that
her organisation and others would do everything in their power to make it better. Racquel Reddy,
Manager of the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society, said her organisation, the City of Johannesburg
and other stakeholders made it their priority to improve the lives of the children of the inner
Reddy said various organisations brought different skills and resources to ensure that the quality
of life in the inner city improved. She said the organisations also ran awareness programmes to
educate communities and to provide counselling as well glucose and cholesterol screening. “Children
are also kept off the streets and away from drugs and alcohol. We do a lot for the community and
also help them to have easy access to facilities around them. We also attend to a lot of domestic
violence cases and refer serious ones to the police,” she said.