Cemetery in Guguletu

Saturdays in the townships are typically the day for funerals, as family and friends come from many miles to honor the death of a loved one. The cemetery in Guguletu which we have been visiting for many years is nearly full, so it was fortunate that today we were able to see one more burial there. The funeral is formal affair, with attendees in their finest dress, a tent over the grave and cloth covered chairs. The singing is accompanied by clapping hand drums and is joyful beyond belief. Because of the high funeral expense and the poverty level, headstones range from modest granite to random stones or wood. It is a humbling,yet spiritual experience. Three years ago AIAIA was able to fund the replacement shack for a woman named Lydia and her son. Shamed by her family due to their positive HIV status. Lydia lives behind her family, and as a result of their fears around HIV/AIDS, they would bleach the chairs and anything else Lydia touched. Today Lydia welcomed us into her home. Her health and that of her son remains precarious. She was upset because a person attempted to break into her shack and broke the window. When we offered assistance to fix the window ,she responded, "I must use this for food, as we have nothing to eat." Our evening ended with the opportunity to meet with Father Mike Lapsley. We were able to hear first hand his experiences during apartheid. Father Mike is an Episcopalian priest that arrived in South Africa in 1974 and was very involved in the movement to end political discrimination. As a result of his involvement and being identified as threat to the political powers he was sent mail bomb disguised in a religious magazine. The explosion resulted in the loss of both of his hands and one eye. Father Mike has remained true to his conviction to peace and justice and is heavily involved in the Healing of Memories workshops. Another busy day, it is time to rest. Off to our church celebration tomorrow. Blessings to all of you.