by Michael from Rotherham
Louise Bird has been a foster mother for 3 HIV/AIDS orphans over the last eight years. All her foster children were black South African babies between the ages of 3 months to 4 years.
The first foster child, Mathew, passed away as a result of his HIV infection. Mathew died a year after Louise became his foster mother.
Louise's second foster child was more fortunate. Mirrium came into Louise's care when she was 4 months old. At about a year of age, Mirrium tested negative for the HIV virus and was placed up for adoption. Louise chose not to adopt Mirrium, but rather to foster more children.
Louise then fostered a third child. Phelo, a little Xhosa boy, came into Louise's care just after he had turned one. Louise fostered Phelo for a year. At this time Louise and her husband decided to move back to the UK from South Africa. Although Louise already had two biological children, she felt that Phelo was her son too. So, she began the process of adopting Phelo.
Due to Phelo being HIV positive, it was exceptionally difficult to adopt him. There were concerns about placing Phelo in Louise's care because of the racial and cultural differences. However, Louise persisted and became Phelo's legal mother.
Louise brought Phelo to the UK with the rest of her family. The family has been living in the UK for two years now. When they first arrived in the country Phelo could not speak. However, with his new mommy's care and help from the local school, Phelo now speaks very well, and is a real Yorkshire tyke! Although there will be many more problems to face and possible death, Louise has never regretted a day she has had with Phelo. Despite other people's views (and some have been rude and mean about the 'black baby') she loves Phelo like her own. She still loves and thinks about Mathew and Mirrium everyday, but feels that this is the work the Lord wants her to do, and she does it with her whole heart.
This is why Louise is my hero, she has loved unselfishly and faces the possible loss of her child with bravery and love. She would not consider ever turning her back on the children who are both infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
- Address by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki , South Africa
- Gives support to International Partnership Against AIDS