Poems about HIV/AIDS written by South African children & young people.

Today is World AIDS day and a day I always take time to reflect on my time spent working in KaNyamazane on an HIV/AIDS education project. (first as a volunteer and then a subsequent year as a co-ordinator)  It was the most incredible amazing experience of my life and it changed me for ever.  I wouldn’t be doing the job I do now if it wasn’t for my time out there.

The poems below are so moving and incredible when you also consider that some of the students writing them were only in Grade 7 of Primary school (the equivalent of Y6) and were writing them in their second language.  I have written them exactly as they were written.  These are the young people’s voices and their  perspective and experiences.  N.B Trigger warning- some of you may find the content of these poems distressing- especially the one about rape.

These poems are very powerful if read out in World AIDS Day assemblies.

Please see end of this post for further notes on these poems.

I can get through a beautiful lady
And strip her beauty out
I can drive the world crazy
And shake even the most handsome guys,
AIDS can move and kill even the president
And his wife is nothing to AIDS
When AIDS is angry nobody can stand his anger

Grade 7B
Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

Virus you are virus
Because you live in blood only
You are a syndrome
Collection of diseases
You kill young adult young child
You kill heros and zeros

Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

Why me?
Hospitals and clinics,
Are full of people
Affected by HIV/AIDS
Doctor and nurse are
Trying to save each soul

Everyone is opening mortuary business
Of a day
Home spaces are being decreased
Grave yard increasing

We as a nation must stand and fight the virus
We are all infected and affected by HIV/AIDS

Grade 6B
Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

What an illness
My life is meaningless
You make my life lifeless
You make me hopeless
What an illness

You don’t care who you kill
It old and young
Big and small
Bad or good
What an illness

The sky was blue
Now its black
People hate each other
Because of you HIV/AIDS
What an illness

Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

HIV and AIDS poem
AIDS kills, AIDS has no friend,
Always be carefully and
Abstain from sex
Look around and round
Our mothers and fathers are
Not with us today
Because of this disease
Please try to abstain from sex

Teenagers look carefully
Look and look,
Study and study
To those who are affected and try
And get a good lesson

Never ever try to know
Sex without marriage is
Not good because one day
You have to get suffering and
Nobody can help you

Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

Poem about HIV/AIDS*

There is a disease around the world
The disease try to destroy all people who live in the world
I want to say don’t have sex when you are young
AIDS is the killer

AIDS is there and AIDS is live
When the man want to have sex with you
Say no because if you say no you protect yourself

All people don’t forget that you are HIV positive,
All people hate you because they
Scared to get the disease.

I want to say into all girl stop having sex
When you unmarried because you get a problem
With this disease
And no-one want you as a wife

And I want to say into the boys don’t
Force a girl to have sex because we get a disease
And the disease is the killer

Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

AIDS poem
HIV/AIDS what a deadly disease you are.
You destroy and kill the nation
If only people would realise
Your danger
They would try to protect themselves

Its here and going nowhere
If people of the world would have known you
None of this would be happening.
People of different races, sexes and cultures,
Are vanishing into the thin air

If people of the world knew you were
This deadly disease
They would act straight.

It will be here for centuries to come
So lets start now, and teach our young ones
To know better and not be destroyed by it

The next generation will come and it will still be here
One only thing, it will be there
But it won’t destroy generations to come.

They would have been taught and would
Know of this deadly
Here and will destroy no more

All because of knowledge
And power of choice
Here and going nowhere

Grade 7A
Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

AIDS is a killer disease
Aid is not expensive

Because of an illness
The cause of killer illness

HIV is stand for
Human Immunodeficiency virus
AIDS is stand for
Aquired immunodeficiency syndrome

Don’t go away to night
With boys, because AIDS is here
If you don’t respect your parents
Because of AIDS
Because of Boys
AIDS is kill

If you have AIDS
Eat fruits
And soft food and vegetables
If you have AIDS you have
Many illness cause of AIDS

If you have AIDS
You have some wound
Some Headache, Backache,
Some come thin and tall

Some have AIDS go
To rape children and
Said if you sleep with children
AIDS go away.

Primary schoolKaNyamazane,South Africa

Rape Poem***
Don’t be quiet
When someone
Touch your private
Go to the police
To report him or her

When somone rape you
Tell your mam or your
Friends because you
Will die or you will found
The AIDS or you will become

Do not go to the tavern
Because when the mans
was drink, they will rape
you or they will kill you
don’t ask the lift because
they will rape you.

Primary school KaNyamazane, South Africa

* Culturally the young people writing these poems are living in a time of mixed messages (like our U.K young people).  They were getting strong messages from church, teachers and family that sex before marriage was a sin and it would be their own fault if they got HIV because having sex caused it therefore abstinence was the only way to protect themselves, combined with lots of health promotion campaigns about safer sex, rape  prevention, campaigns to address stigma and prejudice for people living with HIV.  I think this confusion comes across in their poetry.

**  You will notice that a few of them mention eating vegetables to stay healthy.  I am not entirely sure whether this is linked to Mbeki’s- “sweet potato HIV cure” era – I rather more think it was due to the fact that in the absence of any anti-retroviral therapy being available then staying fit and healthy was the most widespread piece of health promotion for those living with HIV.

*** In South Africa rape is unfortunately a huge issue.  Although huge inroads have been made into combatting the myth -“Having sex with a virgin will cure you of HIV”, when I was there I definitely saw its continuing ugly existence from talking to people.  Sadly in some utterly horrific cases this has lead to babies being raped.  I worked in a rape crisis centre out there for a while and some of the cases we saw absolutely broke my heart, and the strength and resilience some of the survivors showed was truly awe inspiring. Many young people I worked with had either experienced rape or knew someone close to them who had.   Rape prevention campaigns were widespread but as you can see the notion of victim blaming (Ie. say no to unwanted sex, don’t go near drunk men etc) are widespread (as they are in this country).    I decided to leave the Rape Poem in as although distressing – that was her voice and her experience and I was not going to silence it/sanitise it for the sake of my blog readers.

Please take a moment to reflect on these poems and consider how you could use the voice of these young people in your classroom/school.

41 thoughts on “Poems about HIV/AIDS written by South African children & young people.

  1. Pingback: Some resources to support teaching about HIV/AIDS for World AIDS Day 2011 | sexedukation

  2. When we target the young generation as this, i term it half achivement. The fullness of the achivement is when these children begin walking the talk. Just lip service is good but walking the talk is better.
    henry from uganda.

  3. Wow! I’m truly suprised by those children and they show a good experience in what they are doing may God bless their work and also bless the one who took their poemz this far, me too I wrote lot of poemz and it my wish that one day they can be posted on any wapsite where anyone will appreciate them, as I only share them at school in the assembly.

  4. As deadly as we know it to be (AIDS),So shal we be deadly in the fight…..wud lyk to work as a volunteer in any country!

  5. Wow dis is de truth yah lets fight against dis disease s our president says “together we can do more”I say together we can fight against dis disease.

  6. Wow!im so inspired with this children..hiv it s a killing disease around the world thnx for making us aware

  7. i like the view on young children like this, i think they have see all that there talk about. thank you to those who had out thier cry.

  8. Wow this poems really made me think I’m a real poetry butt they really motivate each of us even if you are no infected with the virus you can even learn how dangerous it is

  9. Quite insightful poems. if children are able to give such advice, why are we giving deaf ears?
    ishmael Nkosi
    MANASO, Malawi

  10. What the message, i love their teachers atleast they growing knowing that the virus does exist, nd they must abstain when time comes to get ready for the adult stage. Lovely topic, i can rate u over ten u get nine kids. Keep it up.

  11. let me say it lyk dis,we hav a problem of ignorance,the information abt the killer disease is der,nd here we hav kidz who are going all out to send the msg…let us appreciate it nd b thankful….why do we abolish death penalty and yet legalise abortion?why so many of our men,women and children raped and abused lyk dis?why so many killings nd yet criminals walk free..?dis kidz answer some of dose questions and trying to send the msg to their own ppl…in conclusion I say let us read and learn abt HIV/AIDS..

  12. Good work,these poems are very sad and very moving ,we will find a cure for this disease and our children will suffer no more

  13. I really like these poems because as me a student i have learnt somethng from my freind how to come up with a good poem. thank you

  14. Hav you ever droped a tear that is blue
    Aids is real yes its true
    It attaches to you heart as if its glue
    All the love goes and fate passes through

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