Thank you to Micheal Parkinson who on Sunday 15th January 2012 at 7.55am, led our Radio 4 Appeal.
We raised a staggering:
Find out what he said:
'The interviewer is always being asked about his toughest assignment. I always rely on the flippant answer – ever tried interviewing an emu? The fact is they wouldn’t want to know the truth that the most difficult interview I ever attempted was with a woman dying of AIDS in a shack in a township near Johannesburg. I was making a film for Comic Relief about the work of the Bishop Simeon Trust in caring for victims of the AIDS pandemic.
Nearly five million South Africans are infected with HIV/AIDS. That’s 10% of the population. Every day 1,500 more people are infected. These are merely statistics, terrible and impersonal. How to tell the real story. How to bring it home. Maria aged 26, mother of two children, was dying of AIDS. She told her carer Lorraine she wanted to talk to me, to tell her story. Outside I can hear her two children at play. Lorraine the carer says why don’t you ask her what will happen to her children when she is gone. Maria has heard the question and shakes her head in mute despair. I find myself apologising. The fact is I can’t handle it. Outside I can hear Debeko and Umpo her sons aged 7 and 5. A few days later they were orphans and became typical of South African child headed households where young children are left in charge of even younger siblings. There is no happy ending to a story like this except that today these two children, now aged 17 and 15, are at school, in good health and have a secure future due to the care of people like Lorraine and the continued support of the Bishop Simeon Trust.
I have had a personal involvement lasting more than ten years and counting. I have witnessed the difference made by the Bishop Simeon Trust and dedicated workers like Lorraine, who have given a destitute community a means of survival and brought hope to a generation of young people where once there was only despair.
Please help this important work in whatever way you can. On the 15th January 2012 I will be relating this experience on Radio 4 at 7.55am. I urge you to listen to the broadcast and tell your friends and family. If we are able to introduce more people to the life saving work of BST, we would change many more lives like Debeko and Umpo.'
Pictures taken from Micheal Parkinson's last visit to the Lethi'themba project, where Debeko and Umpo now receive the help they need.