OUR JOURNEY 2005-2007
Our community continued to be adversely affected by the fall out from the increasing number of patients presenting with AIDS related symptoms. During this period the hospitals and clinics were beginning to offer VCT (voluntary counselling and testing for HIV).
Young people started to take a positive role in actively fighting against the scourge of HIV and AIDS and we up-scaled our Youth in Action (YiA) team to cover all facets of life that were of interest to the youth. We worked together with the schools to introduce HIV education and we began to see a change in attitude towards HIV and AIDS and those affected.
Our organization continued to operate as a cohesive and productive unit with all team members participating together in monthly report back, accountability and decision making sessions. The YiA team learnt computer skills and were able to present their goals, success, challenges and plans for the coming month using Power Point presentations.
It was encouraging to see that individuals in the Nkomazi community were actively participating in helping neighbours and children in need.
- The was still a critical need for home-based care services
- Stigmatization of HIV-affected families and individuals was endemic, to such an extent that people were reluctant to test their status
- Affected children were highly traumatized
- School attendance by affected children was sporadic and many children dropped out of school
- Hunger continued to be a major problem
- Many children did not have the necessary legal documents to attend school and receive government social grants
- The number of deaths among single young people continued to increase
How we met the needs –what we did
- We continued our training of home-based care-supporters in 22 villages in Nkomazi as well as in Matsulu
- We continued managing home-based care work in Swaziland and Mozambique
- We continued to provide coffins and funeral services to our patients when needed
- We broadened our counselling for care-givers, care-supporters and children
- We were able to assist a number of people to get their legal documents, such as birth-certificates, identity documents and other legal papers
- Our ‘Orphan Adventure Week’ gained momentum and proved to have a positive impact on vulnerable children under our care
- Our Youth in Action (YiA) program became known throughout the region and youth began to come for VCT willingly
- We published and printed the weekly Nkomazi Voice as an HIV and AIDS teaching project and as a community development instrument
- 30 young people, many of them heads of orphan homes, were trained in arts and craft at our Wildly African skills training centre
- Our HIV and AIDS care-centre at Block B village in the Nkomazi East became the first place that young people came to for advise and help with HIV and AIDS
- We ran the RECLISA “back to school “program with positive results
- A delegation of our grandmothers ("Gogo's") were sponsored by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to attend the international AIDS conference in Toronto, Canada as a token of thanks for their support of so many children in the wake of the AIDS pandemic
- The youth continued to organize events combining sports and performing arts which attracted thousands of youth from the whole community
- The African Children’s Choir selected 30 children who went to School of Music in Cape Town and returned home to a rapturous welcome
- The head of one of our child-headed homes, who was a girl of 15, was selected to attend an international conference on vulnerable children. She was sponsored by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
- In 2006, a lady involved in HIV and AIDS work in north-west rural Zambia, came to learn our systems with a view to implementing them in Zambia
- A visitor to our project was so impressed with the work at Wildly African that she sponsored an young aspiring fashion designer to attend a top fashion college in Chicago, USA for 3 months.
Facts and figures of interest
- We continued to run our Adventure week, and were encouraged to see that many of the children were beginning to overcome their traumas.
- We were caring for over 3000 patients at any one time
- We continued to build houses for children in desperate need
- In one primary school of 554 children, 308 were orphaned or vulnerable and many came to school hungry and only 100 received uniforms through Department of Social Services
- The Nkomazi Voice had a weekly readership of over 50,000
- A school feeding scheme was introduced by government but it took time to become efficient and often there wasn’t enough food to feed all the children in need.
- Through our RECLISA program, 26 children who had dropped out of school returned to complete their education
- The “back to school” program was aired on CNN television in July 2006
WHAT WE LEARNT
During these years
We learnt that due to continuing high levels of unemployment we needed to up-scale our our garden project and skills-training programs.
We learnt that the youth in the community were responding well to the amazing work of Youth-in-Action, specifically as it adopted a holistic approach to the services offered and as a result any young person could find their own place and yet still be part of the whole.
We learnt that stigmatization of people deemed to be affected by HIV and AIDS was slowly decreasing and this we attributed in part to the messages that we managed to carry in the Nkomazi Voice and by educating through drama at schools.