We started the year doing home-based care with 20 care-supporters in 3 villages in the Nkomazi West. However, driven by demands from the community to assist in meeting the increasing devastation caused by HIV and AIDS, we finished the year with 30 care-supporters. (more info ...)
Due to the escalating impact of AIDS, we trained 10 more groups in villages in the Nkomazi East to handle home-based care. Our care-supporters soon reported the urgent need to move into a broader service base than just palliative care and we ran a large food parcel service to help alleviate starvation in many homes. The number of orphans and vulnerable children was rapidly increasing. (more info ...)
We continued with home-based care and started working with Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund to support children. Four youth approached us to start an HIV prevention program so we established the youth program called “Youth in Action – challenged to take control ” (YiA). We developed a data-base to monitor home-based care and care for children. With assistance from TSB (the sugar growing corporate in Nkomazi), we started the home garden project that trained the care-supporters on the best garden practices and they in turn trained care-givers and orphans. Our outreach expanded into Swaziland and Mozambique and we managed Matsulu and Barberton home-based care groups under PSG. The New Covenant Church from Nelspruit came out and we built our first homes for children. (more info ...)
The home-based care program escalated and we had to start making coffins to cope with the increasing number of deaths. We set up a small consulting room which dispensed basic medication to the care-supporters and offered much needed emotional counselling. We expanded the YiA program to offer services that encompassed all aspects of youth life. Mr Richard (Al) Behm arrived as volunteer from USA. Al had many years experience in counselling and working with HIV in USA and proved a valuable asset to the organization. He established the VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) work with the youth. YiA worked with youth from with Bryanston Bible Church (Sandton, Johannesburg) and held the first Orphan Adventure week. YiA started a community newspaper called Nkomazi Voice as both an HIV and AIDS teaching project and as a community development instrument. Wildly African, an arts and crafts training project was launched to offer youth employment. (more info ...)
We intensified the outreach of the YiA and the performing arts team attended many schools using drama to teach about HIV. We started our Care-centre at Block B from where we ran a “Train the Trainer” youth program and established 140 trained counselors who set up VCT support circles in 14 villages. The program was certified under the University of Pretoria. Under supervision of Dr Kelvin Billinghurst from Nelspruit we were able to start HIV testing directly in the 14 villages as part of the train-the-trainer counselling program. Previously youth had to attend a government health clinic for testing which they were reluctant to do.
YiA also ran a program called “Recilissa - Back to school” with Khulisa and funded by the Department of Labor (USA). The program mentored children who had dropped out of school and identified role models to encourage vulnerable children to continue schooling.
Thembalethu also assisted in setting up the Nkomazi Local Aids Council. For more information on this busy time click here- (more info ...)
We had lots of fun when YiA was invited to participate in an attempt to break the longest washing-line Guiness World Record and the clothes that were used for this were donated to us.
We continued the valuable work of publishing The Nkomazi Voice, our weekly local community newspaper that had a significant impact on the community. The YiA worked hard at mobilizing youth and take control of their lives and we held numerous sports and performing arts festivals and competitions throughout all the villages with attendances often reaching thousands. People were beginning to overcome the stigma attached to testing for HIV. Our Home Based Care supporters continued to feel the strain of their work and we offered special support for them at outings and workshops. Helping people to obtain legal documents, such as birth certificates was a full time job and we continued with helping with school uniforms and food where needed. (more info ...)
The Department of Health started training staff at the village clinics on HIV issues and increased availability of anti-retrovial drugs (ARVs) at Shongwe hospital. However uptake of both testing and treatment was slow and HIV infection continued to spread. It was encouraging to see that our HIV education was effective and people in the community were more willing to go for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and stigma surrounding HIV was slowly decreasing. We continued our home-based care program and intensified our youth outreach. (more info ...)
The Department of Health changed its approach to home-based care. They refused to fund through Thembalethu and insisted that villages set up their own groups that were funded directly by Government. Home Base Care (HBC) groups went out on their own and stopped reporting to Thembalethu so we were unable to continue to monitor the statistics of HIV and AIDS in the villages. Village home based care groups sprang up and competed for Government funding so many experienced care-supporters, that had been trained by Thembalethu, didn't receive funding. (more info ...)
With Thembalethu’s decreasing role in direct home-based palliative care, we turned our focus to working with children and continuing to empower the youth. We started an after-school care program, funded by WKN to provide a safety-net for precious vulnerable children. We built more children’s homes, continued with a limited home-based care team, and the youth drama team continued to educate on farms and in schools and clinics. ZA Foundation was launched in the Somerset, England. Cleopas Maseko attended and contributed to a workshop held by the Micah Network in Thailand on “How churches should respond to people living with HIV”. (more info ...)
We continued with our home-based care program and work with children and intensified our youth work focusing on HIV prevention. ZA-Foundation sponsored and hosted the first group of YiA youth from the drama team to visit schools and churches in Somerset, England to teach young English learners about HIV and AIDS. We started the GOLD youth leadership program in 4 schools and ran an exchange program with schools and a university in Holland called the "Stichting OPIN in the project Africa Xplored 2009". It was a great shock to us when our largest building that housed some of our craft work was burnt down and this contributed to our having to close down Wildly African as an arts and crat center. (more info ...)
We had to stop publishing the Nkomazi Voice as there wasn’t enough advertising revenue to sustain the paper. However in 2012 some of the staff who had been trained by us managed to secure funding from the MDDA and they started another community newspaper called the Nkomazi Observer. We continued with our youth programs and were very grateful to Thembalethu Holland for providing us with funds to replace our burnt down factory with a smart education center and computer internet facility. (more info ...)
We started to see the impact of our GOLD youth program as youth reported changed behaviour and better progress in school. Our Ambassadors enjoyed a Second visit to to the UK and ZA Foundation started the "Cultural Exchange” program through the British Council that links schools in Nkomazi with schools in South West England. We observed a very noticeable drop in stigmatization of people living with HIV and AIDS and our Block B community center continued to offer counselling and testing. With the opening of our new building we also re-opened Wildly African as a catering outlet and started selling chicken and chips as Nice 'n Tasty and we also opened an outlet in Tonga. This serves as an employment opportunity. (more info ...)
We continued to offer home based care support, particularly in the Orlando area adjacent to Komatipoort where children were scrambling over rubbish dumps to find food. Hannes undertook monthly trips to a remote area in Mozambique to administer much needed basic medical care. We built more homes for children and once more we were thrilled to see the tangible difference that our after-school Kids Clubs proved to be for the children, but sadly had to close the creche. The drama team worked closely with clinics and schools to offer HIV and health education through drama. We undertook to mentor students who were attending UNISA, South Africa's long-distance training university and our internet center came on line. Building commenced on the library being sponsored by ZA Foundation. (more info ...)
We were now working in 10 schools with the GOLD program and were able to monitor positive and measurable outcomes from the program. Youth who had already graduated and were now attending university came back to inspire the new intakes at the graduation ceremony. We continued our home based care work with CARE SA and felt very "modern" as our care-supporters were able to use mobile phones to track all visits and the status of the families we visited and transmit the data in real-time to a central data-base. ZA-Foundation directors arrived from England and opened the library which proved a very exciting time for us all. (more info ...)
We reached the target of 98 homes that we've built for vulnerable families. We continued to see good results from our Kids Clubs and extended our youth work into another 10 schools. Cleopas attended a number of SALT conferences as a founder member and progress is being made to formulate a national umbrella body for charities/NGOs working in similiar fields. (more info ...)
Our plans for this year see another group of Ambassadors visiting Somerset, England again in June and ZA Foundation has an awesome program set up for them including a performance at Bristol City's largest music theatre. We will host more enablers from BBC to run our Adventure weeks and anticipate building our 100th house. We will continue our home-based care work and Hannes' monthly visits to Mozambique. Our Kids Clubs are continuing to do their good work with the children. Our computer center will continue to offer services to the community and we look forward to running more leadership camps for our youth.
We have some new programs planned for which we are busy negotiating for funding.