Welcome to the November edition of our newsletter!
Our trip to South Africa this year was difficult as Rosalie had some health issues and felt unwell. Weeks of planning are needed to fit in all the projects and visits to six different schools, and long travel. Due to all the complications Rosalie felt she would like to miss out on going to South Africa next year and just rely on phone calls and emails. It only took about three days visiting with people we are helping for her to declare that we must come back in six months time, as there is so much to do and such exciting things are being achieved.
On our trip to South Africa in August 2014, we were reminded how difficult the life is for those who live in an underprivileged social group and are afflicted by HIV/AIDS. At the moment we are transfixed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Fortunately the world is starting to respond appropriately but there are many more young people still whose lives are essentially destroyed because they are infected with HIV or having lost parents to HIV. We see the results in areas where many are dying. We visited Sweetwaters, a location outside Pietermaritzburg. While visiting with the people from Tabitha we heard that 31 people had died of HIV related conditions the previous week. This was in a relatively small area.
These trips can involve unintended experiences and we were involved in a motor vehicle accident when visiting people in a mountainous area on a dirt road. The steering rod broke in our vehicle and we left the road down a very steep slope and ended up with the vehicle partially suspended in the air , lodged in the wall of a mud hut which amazingly cushioned our fall. A granny and two children were only feet from where we arrived and were miraculously unhurt. The home has had to be repaired and the people of Tabitha have worked to help this family in many ways.
One of the best days on our trip was when Vusi had gathered about 20 students together for the day. They were students who had attended Value Based Life Skills workshops and camps for about five years. With the help of VBLS to give the inspiration to study hard, career days and help with applications to obtain bursaries for further education they are working towards a future out of poverty.
This was thrilling as we have watched these young people for the past five years gain confidence and been amazed at how they have been transformed. They are orphaned or vulnerable young people from very poor circumstances. So many comments on that day have stayed with us. Girls saying they have learnt to avoid teenage pregnancy and work towards their future. One sweet girl said she had decided not to be a drug dealer, even if short of money and food. Another boy said his life changed when he was taught to accept his poverty and work hard to achieve.
Another great day was when we met the first Life Skills facilitator for Intumbane school. St Peters Anglican College has paid for a young lady to teach our Value Based Life Skills and to counsel and visit troubled students. She is approachable and able to help them. She mentioned problems with rape, violence at home and even suicide! All in a primary school!
The garden project was also a pleasure to see. These gardens give so much to the very poor who have been devastated in different ways and left with families to feed. Many people are still suffering, with a surprising number still dying of AIDS and TB, in spite of medication. There are many orphans and children at risk. We need your help to help them keep these resources going. We desperately need donations at this time. Recently we were told the youth camps in the Philakahle area
would need to stop for the next six months, as no funds were available. We immediately said to take some money from the budget of the next six months, as we would ask our supporters to help us with this shortage of funds. Every cent goes to Africa, and your donations make and enormous difference to so many people.
I am so grateful that, with your help, we have this great opportunity to make a difference.
Some of the stories from Philakahle..
The VBLS staff visited nine schools to try to see how they could fill the gap of parenting that is in so many homes. They found there is a growing challenge of family violence. They find it is not easy to help the young people with this, so they had some work shops for boys and some for girls. The basic theme is to teach that values influence our behaviour. Teaching that they are special and unique and taking ownership of their behaviour.
The boys camp had a theme of Self Control. “The reason we looked at that is because it is evident that the boys are the ones in the forefront and we looked at what led males to be so abusive at times. One of the facts that was evident was that their abusive background makes them bitter inside, so they manifest that abusive background. They have either the wrong role models, or they have none.
The lesson that we wanted the young people to go with was the value of “Self Control”. The wonderful thing about self control is that it is the wall that protects you from harmful actions or huring other people because you learn to say no to harmful situations and actions. The motto that we came up with at the boys’ camp was, “Self Control is my Wall.”
“The girls camp was the same, but they were told that they need to be able to stand on lives need a boyfriend to succeed. They need to know where they are heading and take that route without thinking that other people are so important in their lives. There was the VBLS code of conduct that was developed and agreed upon. One of these codes was in relation to what they wear and they must avoid love affairs with others until they are fully matured.”
Firstly camps were held for two of the schools that are partnered with schools in Australia, Insebenzwenhle and Hambrook schools. This was a new experience for these young ones (11 and 12 years of age). Hardly any had been further than the next small town and none had been away at a camp before. The intention is that the young people will be enrolled in leadership training and a good seed will be planted at a young age.
Workshops for Young Leaders
Other workshops were held. These were workshops for young leaders, where activities are planned for them to do in their villages. The purpose of these workshops is to teach them their potential as leaders and apply it in their lives. They were taught the value of writing a journal, which the leaders monitor each month.
One of these young girls wrote of her life living with her step father in a shack in Durban:
“Life was good until one day I heard my mother quarrelling with the step father and the next thing that followed was that my mother became a drunkard. The painful time was when my mother became ill and died while I was sleeping with her in the bed. When the step father learnt that my mother is dead he left me alone with the dead body. There was nothing I can do. I was young at the time; I left home and stayed in the street for three weeks because there was no food in the shack where we were living and I was frustrated by staying with my dead mother. My mother stayed there in the bed for three
weeks not buried. When I came home from the street after three weeks I find her still in the bed until some relatives heard about it and they came to bury her. My life was difficult after the death of my mother. I have stayed with different relatives, still they were abusing me, until my grandmother took me to Bergville where I am staying. That is where I met VBLS. That has made a huge difference in my life. They have given me hope that I can live and succeed irrespective of what is happening in my life.”
Other painful stories are told of rapes at early ages and are just some of the lives that VBLS helps.
Another workshop was for young people who have been helped with Philakahle gardens. They were referred by either their guardians or our volunteers network. They are really needy children.
“We have noticed these young people are wearing the same dirty clothes from Friday to Sunday. When we asked them why they don’t have clean clothes they said there was no one to help them have clean clothes.This workshop taught us there is a lot of work to be done. These young people had to start simply to listen concerning instructions. But we work tirelessly to instill those values. By the end of the three days there was a huge difference in the lives of the young people. They were now obeying and being cooperative. It is our wish that we will have these kinds of workshops where we work with the young people who are not helped by anyone in their communities.”
There are many stories of people who have been helped with garden material. We were very happy to see these particular grandparents among the ones receiving fencing. We visited them when nearby at a garden. They had several orphaned children and were struggling to keep animals out of their garden. Goats were pushing through the sticks they had tried to make fencing with. Now the grandfather has been at workshop at Philakahle and they have received their fencing material. When we visited we heard they had no food left for that day, and were pleased to be able to help.
We will really enjoy visiting them next year and receiving thanks which belongs to all our AAF supporters.
Mr Gugu with one of the grandchildren
2014 Supporters’ Afternoon Tea
Dear AAF Supporter,
It is my pleasure to invite you to an African AIDS Foundation Supporters’ Afternoon Tea, to be held on Saturday, 29 November 2014, at the Schwarz Family Practice, 37 Hilder Street, Elderslie, commencing at 3:30 PM.
It is an opportunity for the African AIDS Foundation team to show its gratitude for your support over the past year. We will also bring you up-to-date on the various activities and African projects that we have been involved in over the past year.
Rosalie and I look forward to you joining us on 29 November. To assist with the catering please confirm your attendance by calling the Schwarz Family Practice on 02 4658 0580 by Wednesday, 26 November 2014.
Once again Tim Pickles from Tim’s Garden Centre in Campbelltown sold plants for us. John has just collected a cheque for $1050
We are so grateful to Tim.
Every dollars goes to Africa, as we are run by volunteers.