In February 2007, I started working for WhizzKids United as a Life Skills Trainer. It was a big change in my life and an eye opener of how the AIDS epidemic is threatening in South Africa and the whole world especially in young persons who get infected. I felt like I could help change, like I owed Edendale's youth a behaviour change initiation.
I've become an older sister to them, someone they can talk to since they are afraid to talk to their parents about sex and stuff. So I opened my arms to make them feel free to come and discuss every thing with me. I've changed most of their behaviours in how to take care of themselves by showing that they can be better people by working hard and standing up for themselves in order to achieve their goals. They learnt to work hard to help themselves earn some money rather than getting something in exchange for sex.
In 2009, WhizzKids granted me a chance of taking a counselling course at ATTIC for ten days which helped me a lot in how to deal with cases our children face in their daily lives. I was doing one on one counselling in schools and referred them back to Edendale Hospital if needed.
In June 2010, the WhizzKids Health Academy opened at Edendale Hospital, where I worked as Orphan and Vulnerable Children Coordinator. It was a big challenge but I worked with so much enthusiasm. I was dealing with lots of critical cases like rape, physical abuse or those who suffer from hunger. I was also doing HIV counselling where I dealt with HIV positive teenagers.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity I was given by Marcus, the CEO, and all WhizzKids stake holders. They made me who I am now. I am proud to say that now I'm working for Edendale Hospital as an HIV Counsellor due to their effort in grooming the young girl I was and the shy girl who wasn't talking at all.
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!
At the end of May, our co-ordinator for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme (OVC), Nobuhle, and Health Academy Manager, Jabu, attended a Sunday church service in the City International Church in Ashdown. Following the all day service, the church allowed our two committed ladies to introduce the WhizzKids United Health Academy to the young people attending.
Nobuhle and Jabu used the given time to talk about services at the Health Academy which are accessible for young people. Services at the Health Academy include:
All in all, 30 adolescents were attending the church service that day and were informed about the healthcare possibilities in the nearby situated Health Academy. It is a huge success that Nobuhle and Jabu were able to welcome the majority of these children at the Health Academy a few days later.
Thanks to the commitment of Nobuhle and Jabu, WhizzKids United is able to give support to 30 more adolescents in need.