I’m the project manager of Khaya Centre, the Centre for the Children; orphans and vulnerable Children. If we’re saying vulnerable, it’s all Children that have been impacted or are affected by HIV and Aids.
Every week is different. Every week is busy but overall we try and do the same things. We have five different programmes that we’re running, all pertaining to the child but we can’t ignore the families, so on a Monday for instance we come in and then we can have prayer at 8:30 until 9. At 9 o’clock we have tea for the staff and allocate the staff to their different places. Every Monday morning from 10 until 12 we have a management meeting. In that meeting we have feedback for the week, we sit and identify the challenges we had in the previous week and we try and allocate the different challenges to seniors to handle it or if we need to refer children to hospitals or further counseling for investigation by the police etc. then in that meeting all those decisions get made.
At 12 o’clock on a Monday we finish off our meeting and we give feedback to the staff. The staffs meeting is more or less half an hour, to an hour where we give them feedback and direction for the week. We then have lunch Monday and preparation for the week.
Every week we decide on a topic that we want to address with the Children. Because our children are mostly affected by HIV and aids, a lot of our topics and life-skill-training or conversation goes around HIV and aids, around healthy lifestyle, healthy living etc. But every topic that we choose is based on the Word of God. We follow a programme that is called ‘Today for Tomorrow’ – meaning we want to establish our Children to become leaders for tomorrow. With Children with HIV/ aids, because they see their parents dying, they see their siblings dying, they see in the community… somebody who knows somebody who’s just died; there’s always the perception that ‘I’m not going to live long so I don’t need to try and do much. I don’t need to try and achieve something’, and yet at Khaya Centre we try and get that mindset changed.
On Tuesdays our Centre turns into a mobile clinic. We have normally about 2-3 doctors that come in. We have 5-6 registered nurses. We put up tents. People can come and have HIV tested straight away and get their results within 10 minutes. They get counseling. We’ve got social workers that are on standby for those that are hearing their results for the first time. The Governments’ Children’s Act has changed. Children can now test without parental guidance from aged 12; which is a very risky age. They feel a child has matured enough, yet I don’t think that at aged 12 a child is. I think at age 12 you’re still very much a child. So if a child at that age comes to get tested we have social workers here on standby should they hear their results for the first time and it’s positive.
Wednesday we do support groups. So all these activates happen in the morning. In the afternoon we have all the Children here for the different life-skills training, lessons, we play games, art, we do everything that we can to make learning fun; to get the child’s mindset at ease and say “you know what, there’s people that love me, there’s a place of safety for me”. Our name ‘Khaya’ means Home, and that’s why we’re doing all these things… so the Child can be at Home.
We have a pure-HIV support group for those that are young parents and Positive. We encourage them to come to the Centre, we do workshops with them, different topics, we encourage them to talk about their status and then give them direction as to continue living a positive Positive life.
The second support group is for older people. Those are grannies that are over 60 years of age and have to look after orphans. So we do something that is called practical-parenting. You can see for yourself, “I’m 60 years old – the last time I had a teenager in my house was 30/ 40 years ago” and now they have to communicate with this child and she doesn’t know how to so we try and bridge their gaps so that they’re able to communicate with these orphans and train the orphans in the right way.
A Thursday, hopefully is a more quieter day.
On a weekly basis, more than 1000 people come through the doors of the Khaya Centre… PER DAY.
How you can continue to help us is to work with different supporting structures. We want to continue with the mobile clinic on a full-time basis. The area that we’re in, we’ve got 4,600 households. Now if you think in Britain, if I said 4000 homes you’re going to think ‘Oh, maybe 8000 people’. It’s not; because you can have up to 8, to 10 people in one house. And 6 of those people might be sick. 6 of those Children are Children that we need to help. We need to care for. And with us to have a clinic in the area, with no formal police station in the area; we have to cover rape cases, incest – because some people believe if you sleep with a virgin your aids is going to go away. So we have to deal with all those kind of things. So the help is huge. If I have to focus on one point, it would be to assist me to maintain a feeding scheme and medical assistance to these Children at all times. That would make things… at the moment we get a bit of a grant from our Government but let me give you an example. We’re supposed to get the first of every 3 months our grants in. We haven’t had a grant in the last 4 months. We haven’t. And we’re not expecting, the government has said not to expect anything until June. That means for 6 months we’re running with absolutely no funding or assistance from our government. So that is really, really a problem.
I have to say thank you.
I want to say thank you to the many people that chose this project as their project of choice, their activity of choice. Mike we used to work from little brown wendy houses. Raining. Trying to do and cope with Children. Most of our Children had to eat outside in the dust, and now they have a place that they can call Home. We can not only see to the Children but to the parents. You know, I’m so proud to say that in this year, do you know we didn’t have Children’s death. We had no death for Children this year. I believe that the Khaya Centre and the building has made a big difference, because we were able to do the work that God wants us to do. In the most professional manner. In the manner that people can see that this place is a place of Hope. And for that I’m forever, ever grateful.
You know, I think it’s something that South Africans still have to learn. The sacrifice that you, and other young people did. Bill and some of the other young ones… they left their homes. They left the safety of their beds to come here and build this place, and that’s something we can never forget.