Nurse's Journey From Poverty to Transforming South Africa's AIDS Care

Squished in the middle seat on my flight to New York this week, I caught up on my reading. Empty Hands by Sister Abegail Ntleko was recommended to me last month when I was in Nepal. I am a sucker for non-fiction books and biographies. They inspire me while giving a little nudge about reality and history. Just as I was inspired by The Boys in The Boat by Daniel James Brown, I found myself moved by Sister Abe and her journey to save children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa.

I am hoping to meet Sister Abe next weekend in San Francisco during her book tour. We are both Nurses and that is probably where our commonalities end. Sr. Abe was raised in a rural village in a hut that she and her family built with cow dung and sticks. Even during the worst storms, I never questioned the shelter of my home. Her mother died in childbirth when Abe was three and a half years. I have been fortunate to be swaddled in my mother’s love well into adulthood. Access to education was the norm for me while Abe fought obstacle after obstacle to be educated. One thing we had in common was that we both had fathers that were very proud that we were Nurses.

Ubuntu is a Zulu understanding that you are here to help others and others are here to help you. Sister Abe has taken that philosophy to heart and transformed the care provided to people of South Africa. She faced challenges to overcome poverty, racism, sexism and even ageism to save children orphaned and infected with AIDS. She has personally adopted children with AIDS in addition to creating a home for over eighty children.

She received the Unsung Hero Award of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2009. While we have made tremendous improvements to the ethical and medical treatment of patients with AIDS, Sub Saharan Africa trails behind after years of governmental ignorance. I’m looking forward to getting inspired by this incredible humanitarian nurse. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come join one of these events.

Bay Area Events with Sister Abegail Ntleko.
North Atlantic Books
Empty Hands Available at Each Event.

February 24, 7:00 pm
In conversation with Meg Styles, founder of The Gretta Foundation
The Lafayette Library and Learning Center
3491 Mt Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA 94549
This is a free event, but guests are encouraged to RSVP.

February 28, 7:00 pm
In conversation with Eugene Cash at San Francisco Insight Mediation Community
San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church
1187 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
This is a free event.

February 29, 7:00 pm
In conversation with Andrew Harvey at Spirit Rock Meditation Center
5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., West Marin, CA 94973
This is a free event.

March 4, 7:00 pm
In conversation with Matthew Fox at Book Passage, Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925
This is a free event.

If you are not local, you can get her book on Amazon.