Changing perceptions of HIV/Aids

Pictured, from left, is Chief Warrant Officer James Papole; the founder of Red Ribbon Foundation Dorian Basson; Mas-ood Roman, the son of wheelchair recipient Francina Roman; Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Sepesa and senior Warrant Officer Collin Palmer-Pilgram.

The founder of the Red Ribbon Foundation, Dorian Basson of Lentegeur, is passionate about creating awareness about the HIV/ Aids pandemic.

Mr Basson launched the organisation in 2011 to create a platform to foster open dialogue about the illness among communities. “There is still a lot of stigma attached to the illness and people prefer to sweep it under the carpet. We need to change people’s perception of the disease. They need to understand that it’s just another chronic illness that you take medication for,” she explained.

Later this year, on Saturday May 6, the organisation will host a concert called Igniting Change, at West End, in Athlone. They also host a Red Ribbon Ball every December to raise funds for the organisation.

Mr Basson said the organisation has 25 members.

“We have people running our first pilot project in Scottsville and we host awareness workshops every third month where we educate HIV-positive people about how to live a healthy and positive lifestyle,” she said.

And, he said, the foundation was preparing to launch its monthly support group in Lentegeur in June.

Mr Basson said the organisation was also geared toward helping the underprivileged and when a beneficiary affiliated to the Sout African Air Force gave her two wheelchairs, she was able to help Woodlands resident Francina Roman.

Ms Roman grew up in impoverished circumstances and her life took a turn for the worst earlier this year when doctors were left with no choice but to amputate her right leg just below the knee, due to her chronic diabetes.

“The loss of a limb could not be compensated as she struggled to come to terms with the fact that she would no longer be the independent and strong woman, so many in her community have known her to be. With the loss of independence, her son now provides daily care to his mother as he maintains she cared for him all her years, and now in her incapability, it is only right that he does the same,” she explained.

The foundation handed over a wheelchair to her son, Mas-ood on Friday March 17 as Ms Roman had to be hospitalised.

“She is currently in hospital after having undergone a third operation. At least she will be able to be mobile once she returns home. It will also help with restoring her dignity as she adjusts to her new way of life.”

Mr Basson said that despite Ms Roman’s health issues she still “maintains that she places all her trust and hope in God, her creator”.

The organisation has one more wheelchair to give to a needy resident from Mitchell’s Plain.

If you or a family member are in desperate need of one, call Mr Basson on 062 586 9576 or email