Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
The NGO I focused on was the AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA), located in Durban. This organization was chosen because of its convenient location and history as one of the oldest South African NGOs that has, for the past 20 years, catered its resources for those both infected and affected by HIV. AFSA's location was of importance to my research because I was interested in both the works of NGOs and the differences and similarities in HIV/AIDS treatment and perception in two regions of South Africa, the Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal. For two weeks I followed AFSA's project specialist and officers to the four community based organizations (CBO) supported by AFSA. One of these CBO's was the Zimesele health club located in Umlazi which is the second largest township in South Africa.
Developed by a group of retired nurses in 1996, Zimesele provides home based care for HIV patients who are confined to the home, and child care for orphans and venerable children (OVC). The children in the OVC program receive food and clothing through donation parcels and organized soup kitchen. In addition, they train parents and grandparents caring for HIV positive children through play therapy that aims to improve the social skills and interactions between the HIV positive children and (grand) parents, and work towards building the children's confidence.
Like Zimesele, the St Mary's community outreach center also provides home based care to the HIV positive patients in their surrounding communities. The 374 active home based caregivers at St Mary's are trained to provide basic nursing care to the sick and bedridden HIV patients, and provide them with the proper nutrition and HIV /AIDS counseling if necessary. Because St Mary's is situated in a hospital they also train volunteers to provide palliative care to patients in the hospital wards. The OVC program at the outreach center caters to almost 1900 children in eleven communities and operates seven drop-in centers where orphaned children under school age can be taken care of, giving freedom for the older siblings to attend school/work. St. Mary's OVC programs provide additional resources by distributing food parcels and educational necessities, and organized income generating projects of HIV patients.
Zimesele health club and St Mary's outreach center are just two of the four community centers that I visited; the other's being Woza Moya in Ixopo and Clermont Community Resource Center in Pinetown. After observing the four community centers, I concluded that the most beneficial method of treating HIV/AIDS is not only based on the accessibility of the antiretroviral drugs, but also the approach of solving social problems that accompany the disease.