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October 17, 2008

HIV-Positive Muppet Still Reaches S. African Children

Kami—an HIV-positive Muppet character that has been instrumental in generating AIDS awareness among South African children—made an appearance at the Soweto Hospice and the Mapetia Day Care Center on October 13 to commemorate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, reports.

Kami was first introduced in 2002 on Takalani Sesame, the South African version of the U.S. children’s television program Sesame Street. She is an AIDS orphan who was adopted by characters on the show. With nearly every family in South Africa affected by the epidemic in some way, most of the country’s children can relate to Kami.

“[HIV/AIDS] is very difficult to explain to a 6-year-old child, because his whole world is falling apart. It’s difficult to say, ‘It will be all right,’” said the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Jeffrey Molawa. “Parents can sit down with their children and use Kami to explain AIDS to their children, and teachers are using Kami in their classrooms to talk about it.”

Nikiwe Dube, supervisor of the Mapetia center—which has written manuals about HIV/AIDS that are being adopted by the South African and other governments—says she has seen improvement in the attitudes toward the disease during the past several years.

“We are beginning to see change,” she said. “There is more openness and disclosure about HIV/AIDS. There is a slowing rate of infection. Kami is making a difference.”

Search: Muppet, Kami, South Africa, Sesame Street, Takalani Sesame, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

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