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The following post is courtesy of Melanie Quinn, an Adult Volunteer at Francistown Teen Club:
Francistown Teen Club: A Memorial Service for Kuda
In early September, I received a call from the coordinator of Teen Club telling me that one of our Teen Club members had passed. He was not certain of the name; some of the kids use a couple of different names so I was not sure which young man it was. Of course all of our teens are very special.
I worried about our teens; after all, one of our goals for Teen Club is to empower each other to live positively and with hope. We discuss adhering to a good lifestyle and taking their medications regularly, especially their ARVs. These teens are warriors and they work hard to develop their life skills. So, how were they going to take this sudden passing of their peer and fellow Teen Club member?
When I arrived at the Light and Courage Centre on Saturday morning, 12th September, my heart sunk when I realized it was our Kuda. Naturally, I would have felt the same for any child. But Kuda was a very popular sweet young man. When we first met him, many of us were shocked that he was 15. He was very small. As soon as he spoke, you understood this was no young child. Always smiling, often laughing, and always encouraging. With his small stature, we wanted to protect him, but he seemed fine and confident without us. The last time I saw him, though, he was really quite ill but still managed to smile. He had slowed down, but was still encouraging his fellow Teen Club members.
We spent the morning in preparation for Kuda’s memorial service. We broke into small groups and discussed tragedies and sorrows and how we dealt with them. My heart felt like bursting at how really personal and intimate the kids had gotten with us. The teens prepared poems, drawings and letters for Kuda. They fashioned a memory box and put their works inside. We lit candles and prayed. One young lady shared how, upon transferring to a new school, Kuda took it upon himself to make her feel comfortable and at ease. There were a few tears, and everyone was very quiet. I was a bit weepy, but also impressed by the teens. We adults could see they were deeply saddened, but they also wanted to ensure a worthy service for Kuda.
No matter what I think I can possibly bring to Teen Club, I am constantly humbled by what these teens teach me. Continuously, despite their HIV status and their day-to-day struggles, each teen wraps me in an awareness of the importance of today. I am so grateful for Kuda and the other Teen Club members for the lessons they have taught me. Rest in peace, Kuda, robala ka kagiso…