14 April 2007

25°22'22.13"S 28°18'38.38"E

On the edges of Hammanskraal, there is no electricity or running water. Among the tin houses, not much grows except an occasional small tree or a patch of brown grass. The soccer field is dust. The kids play in bare feet and the neighbors come out to cheer and shout advice from the sidelines. I'm visiting for just a few hours. Trying to understand what it is I'm seeing. But there is no way for me to understand. I can eat the food, walk to the tuck shop to buy a soda, sit in the tiny square of shade, take a few pictures, ask some questions, but I'll never know.

She is 23, mother of one, owner of this tiny tin shack. Her smile is wider than the sky. She has full-blown AIDS, a CD4 count of 16 at last count. She speaks in a soft voice and laughs from time to time. She is just another poor African mother with AIDS who will die before long and I don't know what to do with that.

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