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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

Child.

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

city.

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.