Jan 21, 2015
One year ago, on December 2008 my friend from Kenya, a great photo journalist and HIV/AIDS Activist Felix Masi invited me to discover "A Grandmother's Tribe" Documentary. Among many interesting things, we went to visit the "Dance 4 Life Event" organized in Nairobi to bring awareness on the "World Aids Day". Here I witnessed a conversation between Susie Banfield and one of the most impressive social workers who's name did not stay with me. But her words reached my soul. Please follow up the conversation.
Wisdom: "Every morning when I wake up the first thing that I remember is medicine. Where I go, I have it with me". Although we wish we had one tablet per day. In Canada, in America you are privileged, you have a take one per day, while I take two in the morning and then in the evening."
SB: "You know what, when a friend of mine started out a few years back when AIDS first came as an epidemic, there were almost 70 pills they had to take. And then morning and night - they had to take another ones. So, when it first started up - there was a lot of stuff to take. Now it is so much better, and it's working more effectively, too."
Wisdom: "We pray that one they the cure will come out"
SB: "I pray a lot for that, too."
Wisdom: "I lost my boyfriend, a baby, but I have not lost hope."
SB: "Even the kids today they are getting adult and they go up with life. I thing the progress is absolutely incredible."
Wisdom: "I am a social worker, and many time we see small babies grown out and getting along with the life. They are so adorable and they have been going with this disease. I have a 15 years old one and people tread her as an ordinary child."
Wisdom: "There is one thing I tell people: HIV is very friendly, you treat it good, it treats you good. You eat well, you keep warm, you don't take alcohol, you don't smoke - it treats you well. You start mistreating it, it becomes nasty on you. I have somebody who just committed suicide, because she couldn't take it. She had diabetes and HIV so she was telling: "I am fed up!" And she just took her life away. So I tell people, if you are HIV positive, thank God for that, because if you have cancer, when the pain starts it is terrible. I lost a friend with cancer. She died. And I am positive and I am still living. So, HIV should not be an excuse of you dying. Death is death and we all are going to die one day. People use planes and they get crushed and they die. So... Death is death. I am telling people, "I will only die when the Lord calls me!" When the time comes, I'll go."
Here, I will stop, for you all to reflect...
But not before I will bring up a bio of a great woman that I met - Susie Banfield.
Susie Banfield is mother to five and grandmother to fifteen. Life was not easy as a single parent, and many struggles were overcome with the help of family and friends. She completed her education in 1986 with a degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California. After graduation, Susie spent seven years in Europe as an administrator for USC’s Master of Systems Management program. After completing that assignment she left for a job in the Engineering department on the Johnston Atoll Chem Demil program. It was here a friend introduced her to travel in Africa and the journey began in 2001.
Banfield said “It is my belief that each of us has a destiny in life and felt it was time to give back to others what was given to me. I found a special place in my heart for East Africa and its people. I feel a deep kinship with those who were struggling with poverty and the AIDS pandemic.”
In January of 2005, Banfield arrived for her third visit to Kenya, this time as volunteer with Nyumbani orphanage. It was through mutual friends that she met Masi and after hearing his story Banfield knew this was her destiny. Several months later in Washington DC, the two of them moved forward with Voiceless Children. Banfield believes that “Voiceless Children” is a foundation that can bring hope to those women and children who are struggling and have been forgotten. “Helping these women to be self-sufficient is a goal that can be accomplished” said Banfield. She believes that through their work and the documenting of this work by Masi and his photographs the story will be told and the voices will be heard.