Residents of Nkosi’s Haven treated to visit by Hollywood stars

12 August 2017 - 17:09 By TANYA STEENKAMP
Hollywod actors and Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation ambassadors Alexandra Daddario and Scott Wolf share a light moment with Gail Johnson the founder of Nkosi's Haven which looks after mothers and kids who are affected with HIV/AIDS.
Hollywod actors and Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation ambassadors Alexandra Daddario and Scott Wolf share a light moment with Gail Johnson the founder of Nkosi's Haven which looks after mothers and kids who are affected with HIV/AIDS.
Image: Masi Losi

Hollywood came to Nkosi’s Haven this week‚ when US actors Scott Wolf‚ from MNet's medical series The Night Shift‚ and Alexandra Daddario‚ star of the recent film Baywatch‚ dropped in to visit the community.

“Do you ever get nervous if you meet a really famous person‚ like Chris Brown?" asked one of the excited teenagers at the HIV/Aids haven.

“Of course‚ some people I meet I get completely starstruck‚” responded Daddario.

The two were brought to South Africa by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation‚ with the hope of spreading awareness through their influence.

“It feels like an amazing opportunity to bear witness to something and then go home and tell as many people who will listen about how important this work is‚” said Wolf.

One teenage boy‚ who is an aspiring actor‚ jumped at the chance to take a picture with the two actors.

The NGO was founded by Gail Johnson and her adopted son‚ AIDS activist Nkosi Johnson‚ who died in 2001. The haven is a long-term residential centre for destitute HIV/AIDS infected moms‚ their children and orphans.

Daddario and Wolf were both impressed with the haven.

“You see that through this programme and the small steps‚ one person is able to create a life for themselves‚ go to college and have a family and that’s all a product of this one community. You see the baby steps and you don’t see the large insurmountable problem‚” said Daddario.

The atmosphere was jovial as the mothers treated the visitors to a song while the children put on a dance show.

“I think there’s probably a predisposition for people who don’t come to a place like this to presume because of one hardship or another whether it's a medical one‚ dealing with malaria‚ HIV or poverty‚ that you’d encounter incredibly sombre dark people and they’re just so vibrant‚ warm‚ appreciative and full of love. It’s an incredible reminder of the power of people's resilience and nature‚” said Wolf.

Nkosi's Haven cares for 110 children - from babies to university students - who all live on the property with their mothers.

Johnson said her next project was setting up a self-sustaining ‘kibbutz” style farm on land 50km south of Johannesburg called Nkosi’s Haven 4Life Farm.

The produce will help feed the ever growing number of residents‚ set up more accommodation for mothers and children from a local township and start economic empowerment projects.

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