Guest Post: The Born Frees

By Kimberley Burge | April 1, 2013

Sivi, a young woman living with HIV in South Africa and a poet who writes about her experiences living with HIV as part of a ground-breaking writing club for young women.

Kimberley Burge for EGPAF

Amazw'Entombi. That's "Voices of the Girls," in isiXhosa, one of South Africa's eleven official languages. Amazw'Entombi was also a writing club for teen-aged girls in Gugulethu township, outside Cape Town. I established and led this club in 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. Half of the girls had lost their mothers to AIDS, and several are HIV positive themselves.

Sive is one of those girls. She's also a powerful poet who had been writing before I met her. Hear her words:

My Name is HIV

My name is HIV AIDS.
I love human beings.
I live in their blood.
I love to make them sick.
I love to make them weak,
Especially those who let me.

You can find me everywhere you go.
I could be in your brother or sister.
I could be in your boyfriend or girlfriend.
And if I get into your body,
I ruin and destroy it.

I love people who let me do what I want.
And when I am doing what I want,
I will kill you.
My name is HIV AIDS
And I am the lover of human beings.

These girls are the Born Frees, the first generation growing up in post-apartheid South Africa. Through the work of organizations like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation,
they can also be the mothers of the first generation born HIV-free.

Visit The Born Frees to learn more, or meet them on Facebook.

Kimberly Burge is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist, a contributing writer for Sojourners, and a former Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. She is author of a forthcoming book about girls growing up in post-apartheid South Africa. She reported from South Africa on a fellowship from the International Reporting Project (IRP).