Dance event for inspirational Becky

A GROUP of dancers and musicians are today preparing for a fundraiser to help an inspirational young girl and others like her to continue a life-saving drug trial.

A GROUP of dancers and musicians are today preparing for a fundraiser to help an inspirational young girl and others like her to continue a life-saving drug trial.

The Suffolk School of Samba will headline an event in Ipswich tomorrow which will raise crucial funds for a 12-year-old HIV positive South African youngster called Becky visiting Ipswich.

Becky is staying with her adoptive parents Xris and Karl Kroger for the first time after anti retroviral drugs (ARVs) made her well enough to travel from Cape Town to their Ravenswood home.

Tomorrow 50 dancers and 20 musicians from the samba band will perform alongside the African Song Group, 20 Djembe drummers and the Roger Band for an evening of entertainment.

The event has been organised after Becky, who was born HIV positive and lost both her birth parents to Aids, was finally well enough to make the trip to Ipswich.

Mrs Kroger, who moved to Ipswich from Stellenbosch in 1999 with Mr Kroger, adopted Becky soon after her birth. At the age of four Becky was put in the care of the sisters at Nazareth House, a Cape Town convent which specialises in looking after children affected by HIV/Aids.

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Originally it was not thought she would survive but she has confounded the experts.

Since being reunited with Mr and Mrs Kroger, who live in Mansbrook Boulevard, she has toured London, seen a West End show, been in a guard of honour for the players at an Ipswich Town game and on Tuesday she had the amazing opportunity to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Blair at 10 Downing Street.

Mrs Kroger said: “We had a ball at Downing Street.”

Becky was invited to Number 10 as the guest of Mr and Mrs Blair and the One to One Children's Fund, which funds her treatment.

The charity's founders Rita Eker and David Altschuler were also there and, by chance, so was the Prime Minister of Japan and his wife, who were on their first visit to the UK and were involved in meetings with Mr Blair.

That left Mr Blair tied up during Becky's visit but Mrs Blair and the couple's son Leo entertained them.

Mrs Kroger said: “Becky had her photograph taken in the cabinet room and on the way out we chatted to Gordon Brown. He said 'hello Becky' and then he chatted to her about school. He was so lovely.”

Tomorrow's event will be held at the Caribbean Association, 15 to 17 Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, from 7.30pm.

There is no ticket price for the event but donations of around £3 are being requested. Children can make smaller donations. All funds raised will go towards the Becky fund.

Weblinks:

www.suffolksamba.com

www.one2onekids.org

BECKY'S family have no doubts that they owe her good health to one thing - the anti retroviral (ARV) drugs which are keeping her alive.

Every 12 hours Becky takes her medication which enables her body to fight the HIV virus inside her by protecting her from infection.

Four years ago Becky was chosen as one of the six healthiest children at Nazareth House to take part in a drug trial under the supervision of Dr Paul Roux and his team at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

In that four years Becky's life has been transformed.

And it is thanks to the work of the London-based One to One Children's Fund that the programme has been able to help HIV positive orphans at Nazareth House.

One to One has provided funding to pay for the treatment which is keeping Becky alive.

Rita Eker MBE, co-founder and director of the fund, was at Heathrow airport to meet Becky when she flew in last month.

She said: “When we met Becky about four years ago she left the impression that this was a little girl who was very shy. Then I met her at the airport and she came bounding in and there were tears running down my face. She's fantastic.

“If we could replicate all the kids that are on the treatment we'd like them all to turn out like Becky. We've got someone really remarkable in this little girl.

“Look what can happen with care and love and the right medication. Look what we've achieved.”

But the fund relies on the public's help to keep children infected with HIV in Africa alive.

Ms Eker said: “Every child deserves the right to feel the way Becky does but without everyone's help we're not going to do it.

“With everyone's help thousands of kids can be on the treatment. Without people's help there is no hope for these kids.

“Five pounds goes a long way in Africa for these kids.”

To send a donation visit www.one2onekids.org, send a cheque made out to the One to One Children's Fund to Rita Eker, One to One Children's Fund, Carradine House, 237 Regents Park Road, London, N3 3LF or call 020 8343 4234.

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