Hannah

Hannah Kitele is the founder of St Jane’s Orphanage, a beautiful home in Johannesburg that houses up to 22 children, mostly with profound conditions: HIV/AIDS, severe mental or physical disabilities, abuse victims, and the terminally ill. She also provides encouragement and guidance to teen mothers— showing the young mothers affection, offering them meals, teaching them skills, and modeling the care she hopes they will transfer to their babies one day. Hannah is the person hospitals call for the “hopeless cases.” The first time I visited St. Jane’s in 2008, I met a tiny infant born with half a brain who was, by all measures, not supposed to live beyond a month. With Hannah’s special care, endless patience, and profound love he is now eight years old and still thriving. There are so many stories like this: Hannah took in a blind infant with HIV/AIDS, covered in skin lesions. Under Hannah’s care, the girl’s HIV/AIDS was reversed, her vision restored, and her lesions gone. She has since been adopted. Hannah is not a miracle worker; she is a beautiful person who understands exactly how to treat illness. She lost her mother, father, and sister to HIV/AIDS many years ago. Hannah understands that with the right medication, nutrition, and love, you can reverse HIV/AIDS in babies. This is something I did not know before I visited Hannah. I also did not know it was possible to be calm, centered, loving, and gentle in the midst of such extreme chaos. From 2008 to 2012 , I have visited Hannah four times, and each time the pattern is the same. The new children are easy to spot— they hang back, quiet and pensive. They are unfamiliar with the hybrid dialect the children speak, and often they are still suffering from recent abuse. In a matter of days, they will begin to speak the new language, and, in just a week or two, they will be acclimated and fully conversant. For the first time in many of their lives they will feel safe.

Hannah Kitele is the founder of St Jane’s Orphanage, a beautiful home in Johannesburg that houses up to 22 children, mostly with profound conditions: HIV/AIDS, severe mental or physical disabilities, abuse victims, and the terminally ill. She also provides encouragement and guidance to teen mothers— showing the young mothers affection, offering them meals, teaching them skills, and modeling the care she hopes they will transfer to their babies one day. Hannah is the person hospitals call for the “hopeless cases.” The first time I visited St. Jane’s in 2008, I met a tiny infant born with half a brain who was, by all measures, not supposed to live beyond a month. With Hannah’s special care, endless patience, and profound love he is now eight years old and still thriving. There are so many stories like this: Hannah took in a blind infant with HIV/AIDS, covered in skin lesions. Under Hannah’s care, the girl’s HIV/AIDS was reversed, her vision restored, and her lesions gone. She has since been adopted. Hannah is not a miracle worker; she is a beautiful person who understands exactly how to treat illness. She lost her mother, father, and sister to HIV/AIDS many years ago. Hannah understands that with the right medication, nutrition, and love, you can reverse HIV/AIDS in babies. This is something I did not know before I visited Hannah. I also did not know it was possible to be calm, centered, loving, and gentle in the midst of such extreme chaos. From 2008 to 2012 , I have visited Hannah four times, and each time the pattern is the same. The new children are easy to spot— they hang back, quiet and pensive. They are unfamiliar with the hybrid dialect the children speak, and often they are still suffering from recent abuse. In a matter of days, they will begin to speak the new language, and, in just a week or two, they will be acclimated and fully conversant. For the first time in many of their lives they will feel safe.

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