2023 has begun and time is already flying! CHIVA has so many exciting projects in the works and we can’t wait to get them off the ground. Our mission to transform the lives of ALL children living with and exposed to HIV, so they may lead happy, healthy, and positive lives, is something that we are focusing on now more than ever.
Our e-Learning and digital library is up and running and new content is being added all the time. Healthcare workers are now able to access all the information they need to provide excellent healthcare to the children and young people in their care. These online resources will be used in all of our projects this year – the first of which is already funded for the next three years – thank you so much to World Relief Australia, in partnership with the Victor Daitz Foundation who have provided this funding.
We are confident that we will secure funding to continue our current projects and launch our new ones and are negotiating with new partners as we go to press with this newsletter – so watch this space next month!
Transforming the lives of children
Our first funded project for this year focuses on finding and identifying the children that are living with advanced HIV disease and are at risk of dying. We know that within 6 – 8 months we will transform their lives. Our primary goal is to ensure they have almost no detectable virus counts in their blood and a normal immune system which is completely achievable if they take their medication properly and consistently. Our clinical advisors, together with the social worker develop a personalised treatment plan for each child and provide mentorship for the healthcare worker looking after the child. Learning to provide quality care for one complicated child saves not just that child but the many other ill children in their care too.
In the past one of the biggest challenges was the intermittent contact with healthcare workers we were mentoring. Through our e-Learning and distance mentorship programmes we can transform the knowledge and skills of healthcare workers every day. We are so excited about this project and our ambition is to extend our support throughout KwaZulu-Natal so that many more lives can be transformed!
Empowering Young Men and the Boy Child
We have a wonderful new venture aimed at boys and men in one of the country’s poorest districts – uMzinyathi. In the past, Young Men and the Boy Child have been overlooked when it comes to HIV services, but we plan to change this!
Young men and boys need to feel able to access quality Healthcare in an environment which is supporting and engaging; helping local clinics establish these services is exactly what this project is designed to achieve.
Our role will be to enhance the roll-out of enhanced quality health care services tailored to the specific needs of young men and boys in 4 local clinics.
We are also recruiting young men in the community to act as our community representatives. These young people will act as peer advocates because, as we know, it is much better to hear something from someone in our own community than from a stranger. Our hope is that other male youth in the community will hear what these advocates have to say and will be more willing to access the healthcare in their local clinic.
These young peer advocates will visit schools, support open dialogues with the community, hold community open days, and will even host radio show discussions. Our goal is for boys and young men to be more informed and empowered to make better decisions regarding their health and status. CHIVA is currently applying for funding partners to roll-out this initiative to many more clinics.
Investing in our Youth, Investing in our Future
Nelson Mandela famously said, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” Investing in the youth of today is investing in the future of our country.
There is a desperate need for South Africa to prevent new infections amongst the youth, and to provide youth-friendly services. This will not be possible if healthcare workers are not equipped. Our goal is to provide healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills they need to provide quality youth-friendly services for young people which includes sexual and reproductive health services.
A big problem is that even though the services are there, the young are reluctant to use them. We want to understand the reasons for this reluctance and devise solutions to overcome them. Accessing these services so they are able to make good choices regarding their sexual health is crucial for the future of our youth. By using a youth advocate, we can make sure we are both solving the barriers they are facing, and promoting the services available. Speaking about issues you are experiencing with people who are in the same situation is not only therapeutic, it’s supportive and educational. Part of this project involves creating youth support groups which create an environment for open and frank dialogue and true peer support.
Clinics, schools, and the community working together to enhance the welfare of the young people they all are responsible for, is vital to the success of any local initiative. We are working with the already established school and community outreach teams to deliver messages about sexual reproductive health in an effective youth-friendly way. Making sure the youth have the tools to make good decisions, not only about their sexual health but their health in general, means a brighter future for them and for our country.
2023 will be a year of new and innovative projects to improve the lives of our children and adolescents. As a board we are excited about the year ahead and are thankful to our committed mentorship team who have the knowledge, skills and passion to deliver on our new initiatives!
Once again, a huge thank you goes out to all our donors, volunteers, staff, and partners – CHIVA is one year away from celebrating our 20th anniversary and we couldn’t have done it without you.
With warm regards,