Ilungelo Training and Development’s Mushroom Project has been running from 2002 without any funds until it was funded by Aids Foundation of South Africa. This was quite a challenge previously as a number of programmes that they implemented failed due to a lack of funds. “We have consequently been more successful in our endeavours and we have also developed a relationship with the Department of Agriculture because of our focus on poverty alleviation and sustainability for the organisation, and most importantly for our patients, ” said Siphumelele Ndzimbomvu, the project manager.
The vision of this project is to alleviate poverty, promote healthy living and give hope to those who are both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The project has a soup kitchen that provides meals for those patients in the community who are bed ridden and on treatment, for the orphaned and vulnerable children and for the elderly. The Mushroom project also extends its reach by providing care and support for children who are from 0 to 6 years old.
Ndzimbomvu believes that all these initiatives would be impossible if the organisation only depended on the funders, therefore we they have come up with ways to create sustainability for the project through selling parcels of mushrooms to the community members.
The community care-givers who do house visits to patients have also been trained by the Department of Agriculture on the health benefits of mushrooms, as well as how to garden and harvest them. In addition, the Department of Agriculture provided us with more seeds and guidelines on how to monitor and care for the crops.
“As an organisation we now have a big garden that serves the soup kitchen, the community and also the children and the patients,” added Ndzimbomvu. Over the past two years the AIDS Foundation of South Africa has contributed to providing food security and income generating assistance to 16 079 beneficiaries, and values an holistic approach to mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS especially under the conditions of extreme poverty.
South Africa is said to have approximately 600 000 orphans as a result of the devastation caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Ubuntu Care and Development Organisation is one of the community based organisations committed to supporting the orphaned and vulnerable children in the Eastern Cape. ‘We believe that by developing a child, you’re developing the community. The children are our future we have to protect them, their health, their rights, we need to nurture and guide them,’ said Nomonde Memeza,
director of Ubuntu Care and Development Organisation.
The organisation provides holistic interventions such as providing access to psychosocial support, emotional support as well as access to social services, education, recreational activities, nutrition and health promotion. A platform is provided for children where they are encouraged to voice their feelings on issues affecting them in age specific support groups. This safe space is geared at imparting life skills tools that are crucial to their development as young people.
“Because we do initial house visits to identify orphaned and vulnerable children, we find overburdened care-givers or guardians. We have since encouraged the ‘one home, one garden’ initiative which enables guardians to cater for their family’s needs and sustain their livelihoods. There have been 30 vegetable gardens developed in this village since we started this initiative. There are also support groups for guardians which help them face their challenges as well as a support group for those dealing with HIV and TB,” added Memeza.
The Ubuntu Care and Development Organisation also has developed an early childhood development (ECD) centre which enables children to become familiar with basic ideas in literacy, maths and science. As well as developing psycho-social skills and other abilities that prepares them for school. Furthermore they have developed an after school care programme where children are provided with a meal focusing on reducing malnutrition, assistance with homework, health monitoring, laundry services and ongoing psycho-social support.
The AIDS Foundation supports several OVC organisations countrywide, and has reached 65 609 beneficiaries over the past two years. This reflects only 9.14% of the country’s current statistics of orphans which depicts that there is still more to do for the children of South Africa.
As the world today recognises the importance of the Female Condom in the HIV Prevention basket, perhaps it is time for us to take a fresh look at the potential of this life saving tool in stopping the spread of HIV, especially for women and girls. Since 1998 when the Department of Health in South Africa procured 1,5 million FC1 Female Condoms, the landscape of HIV has changed dramatically.
Over the past six months, the Foundation asked the following question through its website Poll: The South African Choice condom needs to be rebranded for increased interest in condom use. Of the 137 responses recorded, 95% agreed that Choice condoms need rebranding, 5% disagreed.