Spreading the Word in Edendale: Community Outreach with WhizzKids United
posted by Nobuhle Dladla on 23 August 2011
Nobuhle Dladly (standing) talking to a young man in a tavern about the Health Academy.
Nobuhle Dladly (standing) talking to a young man in a tavern about the Health Academy.

In order to raise awareness and increase attendance, the WhizzKids United Health Academy Marketing Team decided to reach out to the Edendale community and educate them about our services. With help from Theo and Lauren, we are doing this in a variety of ways. But the most important aspect of this is actually getting out into the community and just speaking to people.

We sat down and discussed about how we can interact with our community. We came up with the plan to make flyers that list our services. The Health Academy offers treatment for sexually-transmitted infections, HIV counselling and testing, male medical circumcision, TB screening, and different recreational activities. The flyers would serve as a wake-up call; in turn letting people know more about what's available in the community. 

We have established a schedule so that all of our staff members will get a chance to go out and promote the Health Academy. We will go out four days a week and keep track of all the people we meet and encounter. We want to assess whether the outreach programme is successful and whether the Health Academy is receiving more attendees as a result. Fortunately, we are blessed to see our efforts making a positive difference. 

We started by heading to the taxi station opposite of the Health Academy. While endorsing the Health Academy's features, we gave all the drivers and passengers flyers. From their feedback it seemed that most people thought the Health Academy was only for younger children. But, due to taking the time to speak with them, they have now shown great interest in the Health Academy and have been attending to talk about their sexual health.

Our outreach has also shown us situations that are sadly common in our community. In many cases, you will find young men and women, who have just finished their studies, spending their time at taverns during the day. Furthermore, to our surprise, we have also met many parents who still don't understand our purpose or don't allow their children to attend the Health Academy. As a result to these two situations, this is a trend that we must help to stop and it greatly heightens the purpose of our initiative. 

Nonetheless, our outreach has been a very eye-opening experience generally filled with positive feedback from members of the community. Those who know about us and what we do are always full of praise, whilst those who are learning about us are extremely excited that there is such a clinic. We have already found a big increase in attendance. And as our efforts continue we strongly believe that more people will access the Health Academy and our services!

Thank You, WhizzKids United!
posted by Octavia Mthimkhulu on 19 August 2011
Octavia Mthimkhulu (pictured in blue, bottom row) reflects on her time with WhizzKids United
Octavia Mthimkhulu (pictured in blue, bottom row) reflects on her time with WhizzKids United

At the beginning of the year, I was searching for a proper place to do my integrated learning (practicals) for school. In the back of my mind, I wanted a place where I wouldn't hesitate to get up in the morning and go to. I can't express how proud and thankful I am that I found my treasure in WhizzKids United.

Since I joined the team in March, its been an awesome experience. I was welcomed very warmly with open hearts and I completely felt like a member of the team. WhizzKids United has taught me a lot that has helped me both personally and professionally. The knowlegde and skills that I have acquired from this organisation is significant in my life and will be very helpful in my practice.

The work that they do is very positive and inspiring. It is incredible to play a small part into the improvement of young people's lives while creating a better environment for children in the process. I will miss the fun and pruductive activities we did as a team.

I dearly thank everyone at WhizzKids United for their sincere welcome and ongoing support throughout my stay. I especially want to thank the management team in particular for believing in me, respecting and appreciating every little effort that I put forth in every given task. A big thank you also to the skills trainers for their cooperative attitude and respect they had for me. The relationship that we all shared will always stay strong and I will always be grateful. Thank you WhizzKids United!

Heartbreaking Realities
posted by Gugu Mofokeng on 15 August 2011

A few weeks ago, an 11 year old boy was referred to the WhizzKids United Health Academy from Edendale Hospital. He fell from a tree onto an iron fence which pierced between his ribs and lungs. This child regularly begs on the streets for food. He collects his food and then hides it at the top of a tree so that other children cannot steal it from him. He then returns the following day to collect it. After staying in the hospital for a week, we learned not only about his sad conditions but also about his heartbreaking family story. 

He lives with his 16 year old sister, 14 year old brother and his sister's 2 year old toddler. His mother passed away when he was a baby whereas his father passed away when he was in the 2nd grade. His sister's boyfriend is in his thirties and is the sole provider for the family. Both he and his sister does not attend school, whilst his brother returned to school this year after a year-long break. 

His sister's boyfriend sadly has the family in the palm of his hand. He never allows her to come to the WKU Health Academy for HIV Counselling and Testing and she is not able to afford the taxi fare without him. She is also in no position to refuse sex or even discuss the use of condoms or other contraceptives. If she did, then he threatens to let the family starve as retaliation. He does not live with the family but comes to their home any time he feels like it. Sometimes he comes in the middle of the night when they are all sleeping. If she complains that he is waking up the kids, then he beats her. If the boys try to help their sister, then he beats all 3 of them.

They live about 15km away from the WKU Health Academy and due to this fact we have struggled with being able to help them thoroughly. Like many families in this situation, they will not let the police intervene. Even with our encouragement and cooperation with law enforcements, the police still needs evidence of abuse or a complaint from a family member about the issue. And the family members won't issue a complaint because it would be considered as "biting the hand that feeds you."

We have even brought this issue to numerous foster care services. But, unfortunately, social workers in this area have such a heavy workload that cases can easily become lost in the shuffle. For example, one particular sexual crisis center in Edendale can easily average 50 cases per month. One social worker even admitted to us that the number of cases she handles is ten times the amount social workers see in the United States. Although foster care services have declared that they will look into the issue, their assurance never sounds firm and our fears for the family begin to worsen. 

This is a sad reality that many families and clinics like ours encounter. Whilst it is generally rewarding to work at the WhizzKids United Health Academy, it never gets any easier when we cannot help out a case of this nature to our fullest capabilities due to certain limitations. As we watch over the young brother in his recovery, we do all we can to encourage him and his family to come to the Health Academy without overstepping any boundaries. Besides helping the young man to heal, our role is to provide constant care and support to the family even if they are still scared to reach out for help.

Cases like this reminds all of us that the Health Academy is more than just a clinic or a soccer pitch. It is an institution of prevention, care, treatment and support for HIV and AIDS. It is a center where the community can come together and a safe haven for children. Our hopes are that one day proper funding and resources will allow us to build and develop more Health Academies in different communities. Therefore, we can be more active in stopping this issue of fear, abuse and pain. But, as for now, our focus lies on this family as we will continue to do as much as we can.

My Life as a Counsellor
posted by Mthobisi Mkhulisi on 11 August 2011
Mtho and other Counsellors being trained in the WhizzKids United Life Skills manual
Mtho and other Counsellors being trained in the WhizzKids United Life Skills manual

First off, let me assure you that being an HCT Counsellor is not as easy as it sounds, neither is it as boring as some people may think.

In order to be a good counsellor, there are some qualities that you need to have. You need to be a good listener, not be judgemental and have empathy. But most of all you need to be aware of yourself. This means that you must be able to understand your emotions and anticipate your reaction to every situation you may encounter when dealing with different clients.

Today I will explain in detail what goes on during a pre- and post-HIV test Counselling session at the WhizzKids United Health Academy.

Before you take a client, your consultation room needs to be prepared. Depending on the age of the client, certain documents must be prepared. These are consent forms, result forms, and if the client is a minor (under 19) we fill in a Sexual Health Risk Assessment Form and an Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Form.

Once we have assembled our documents, the client walks in with their HGT forms so that we as Counsellors know that they have had their Vital Signs checked. Meanwhile the reception staff will already have given us their medical files.

I greet the client and introduce myself and explain my role at the WhizzKids United Health Academy and assure the client that everything we discuss during our session will be treated with confidentiality. I then ask the client to fill in the relevant forms. After that is done, we begin with Counselling.

Pre-Test Counselling

This is where we explore the client's knowledge about HIV transmission, prevention, and management. We explore whether or not they have been at risk of contracting the virus and also look at STI's and their association with HIV. We discuss the possible result that we might get when doing the HIV test, and I explain what each result means. After this stage we do the actual HIV test and after 5 minutes I can give the client the results.

Post-Test Counselling

This takes place after the results have been given and depending on the result the session will differ. But mostly, this is the stage where we look at the implication of the results. We talk about the possible lifestyle changes that would best suit the client given the results. We also encourage them to do a TB Screening, live a healthy lifestyle by exercising, practising safe sex, and most importantly, disclosing their status to a person that they trust.

After this is complete, I fill in the relevant documents and give the client their next appointment date.

Of course, this all sounds very simple and even clinical, however when you are in a counselling room explaining to a person who may have been abused or raped that they are HIV positive, this is not a simple or clinical process. Even when a client is HIV negative it is often hard to get them to talk to you and to help them to ensure that they remain negative. However, I love what I do and hope that I can help as many adolescents in Edendale as possible to create an HIV-free generation.

So you see, it is not easy being an HCT Counsellor, but then again, life isn't easy.

Hip-Hop and Townships
posted by Theo Mitchell on 5 August 2011
KwaPata Secondary School In the Heart of Edendale
KwaPata Secondary School In the Heart of Edendale

 

For as long as I can remember I have always been a fan of hip-hop music. I'm constantly captivated by how a lyricist can control a smooth or bass-heavy beat with his words and flow delivery. It excites me and keeps me wanting to hear more. Many themes play out in this genre of music. Yet, in my personal opinion, the biggest themes that underlines this art are the character of an "underdog" and the pride in one's beginnings. With these two elements, this is where hip-hop and townships can become synonymous.

 

In America, a township would be simply classified as "a ghetto." A downtrodden neighborhood that pales in comparison to the glitz and glamour of a metropolitan city. Especially in the case of Durban, many would easily overlook townships as the dividing line between the wealthy and the poor. In addition, a township would be nothing more than an area for non-whites. But, even from my three weeks here, I can tell you that townships are a lot more. Just as "hoods" are described in rap and hip-hop, townships offer more than what really meets the eye.

 

As a member of WhizzKids United, I have the opportunity to often work in the Health Academy in Edendale, a township one hour away from Durban. The Health Academy is not only a one-stop shop for after-school activities but also a center for youth counseling and various medical services. Everytime I go there, I see pieces of my favorite music come to life. In Edendale, its not peculiar to see people walking barefoot whereas music will portray a scene of sneakers hanging from telephone wires. Often advertised streets and corners, in the music, are found in Edendale's dirt roads and paths still under development. Projects and housing apartments glorified by rappers come in the form of small, three- and four-room shacks made out of mud and brick. 

 

Your heart can quickly sink by what you see in Edendale. But I also see things that my favorite music doesn't speak enough about. Children, walking in droves on these dirt roads, to school where farm animals roam freely. Hardworking mothers and fathers doing all they can to provide for their families and keep children out of harm's way. The ambition to make Edendale a better place lies in the heart of the community regardless of a person's role or professional title. Just like hip-hop advocates, it would be extremely easy to just accept current conditions and the status quo. But, you can strongly feel that failure in not an option due to the pride in Edendale and the pursuit for progression.

 

Similar to how hip-hop rose from the bottom ranks, I have the same faith that in time Edendale will do the same and not be considered just "a township" anymore. You can see it in the children as they share with you their dreams of becoming a renowned soccer player, doctor or teacher. You can see it in the adults as they sacrifice and chase new opportunities for the betterment of themselves and their families. Even working alongside the people of the Health Academy gives you a sense that men and women, old and young alike, whom are on the pulse of pushing Edendale to new heights.

 

Everyday, I consider myself very lucky to be here and see all this firsthand. No book in the world could ever fully detail Edendale. But, mark my words. In due time, like the "underdog" often characterized in hip-hop, Edendale will also rise from being just a township.

 

Why Travel 10,000 miles to fundraise for WhizzKids United?
posted by Marcus McGilvray on 4 August 2011
No rain, mountain ranges nor deserts can stop our CEO!
No rain, mountain ranges nor deserts can stop our CEO!
I daresay, many of you must be wondering, how can the CEO and Founder of Africaid and its WhizzKids United programme can take six weeks off work to take part in the Mongol Rally - 10,000 miles overland to Mongolia in a car no bigger than a 1,000cc engine! My first answer to that would be, set up a charity and work in Africa for 10 years and you’ll know why. But chances are you won’t. So, let me attempt to explain those ten years in more detail so that this adventure, and surely it’s an adventure, resonates and makes sense to everyone. With no shadow of a doubt, I have been blessed to have spent the last 10 years in Africa. It has been an intoxicating love affair entwined with her sounds, beauty, murmurings, majesty, smells, touch, taste, tragedy yet splendour and still most of all - Her people.

I’m fortunate to spend time each day with remarkable and resilient young people set on overcoming the daily grind of hardship and pain and making something of their lives. To play a small part in their lives and with such a wonderful team of fellow workers is an honour, a truly great honour.

However, to make a difference in the lives of the young people we seek to serve, we are naturally forced into the mind-numbing and time-consuming world of fundraising. This is precious time lost with a young boy or girl, who for example maybe lost both parents to HIV, desperately needs someone to fight in their corner; someone to show them the way and most importantly someone to tell them who they are – the core question of their soul. Without this precious time, this question will remain unanswered all their lives, leaving them incomplete and open to the dangers of alcohol abuse, drugs, HIV, sexual abuse, poverty etc.

Yet our time to make a difference is impeded with the daily grind of proposal writing, proposal concepts, reading the guidelines, draft a 100 page plan, review, refusal, phone down, waiting with no replies, door to door, hand to mouth, boardroom to boredom, start again.

Days can therefore become something of a routine. Get up search for sponsors, take a hundred kick backs in a day, go home, sleep and try it all again the next day! Man needs adventure – we all do. I needed time out to challenge myself, face new dangers, to feel alive – so hence the Mongol rally.

So far we’ve driven through 13 countries, had countless adventures, felt worn out, desperate for sleep or food or water. But I’ve felt alive every minute. We keep a journal and hope to write a book about our travels...watch this space! Going forwards we have thousands of miles of Kazakhstani desert to overcome and then of course the mighty Gobi Desert. Miles of emptiness and danger driven out in a little Nissan Micra – it’s an adventure that charges the blood! It provides more questions than answers. Will we make it out alive? Will we have the resolve to keep going even if the car gives up? The uncertainty is the driving force and something we all need and crave. I can’t wait to come back and share my adventures with all the kids, because this is what life is all about – living!

I graciously thank you for taking the time to read how I feel and understand my purpose for doing this. If you would like to donate toward my efforts, then please follow this link to my justgiving page. Thanks again.

WhizzKids Mixed Gender League gets off to a flying start!
posted by Lauren Kocher on 1 August 2011

By Khumbulani Buthelezi and Zanele Thabethe

As you know the new Mixed Gender Football League was launched on 18th July 2011 as part of WhizzKid United's Mandela Day celebrations, during which we all sang happy birthday to Madiba, the staff got beaten pretty convincingly in a game against the kids, and the Mixed Gender Football League began with a match between 'Liverpool' and 'Chelsea', with Chelsea winning 2-1.

As the Coordinators of the Mixed Gender Football League, we would like to inform you of the excitement that has been taking place in the first 2 weeks of the league.

Since the first match, 34 goals have been scored, with an average of 5 goals scored daily in each game. The most exciting game so far has been the game between 'Barcelona' and 'Madrid', which ended with 'Madrid' winning the game 6 goals to 2. Whilst the highest number of goals in one game were scored last Friday when 'Chelsea' scored 9 goals against 'Manchester' - doesn't bode well for Man U fans with the upcoming premiership season about to begin back in the UK!

However, it is important to remember that the Mixed Gender Football League was not just implemented so that kids could play football. The two main objectives are to a) overcome the stereotype that states women should only be allowed to be housekeepers, whilst males are able to be out chasing their dreams, and b) to emphasise gender equality and eliminate gender-based violence.

WhizzKids United is an organisation which promotes HIV prevention through the medium of football, therefore we are also using the Mixed Gender Football Legue as a tool that will not only give females the opportunity to play football with males, but also to equip the youth of today with Life Skills. Therefore, alongside the league, we will be conducting Life Skills classes with all the participants using the 3-session 'On the Ball' manual.

This is a very important initiative to be a part of and we can't wait to continue with the action-packed schedule and hope that the goal rush keeps coming!

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