HIV Counseling and Testing Drive
For the past 8 weeks the Camp Sizanani Life Skills Saturday youth clubs has been preparing all of their boys and girls who are 15 years and older for a joint HCT drive. This was done in collaboration with Care Works. After a number of meetings and teleconferences with the Care Works management we met with members of the Care Works HCT implementation team to go over the logistics for the day.
We took the team to Copessa Park, where we hold one of our youth clubs, and inspected the site. They found it to be suitable and planned where they would put up their gazebos and counselling tents.
May 16th finally came and everyone was very excited as the taxis from each of the other clubs began to arrive.
While the Care Works team was setting up we had a group yoga session, which helped to calm and center the 100 children that were about to participate in the HCT. The kids were divided into smaller groups and vochelis kept them busy while the testing took place. We explained to the campers that they would only be given their test results verbally and not written in an envelope to maintain the confidentiality of the HCT. The campers who tested negative would be eager to show their paper results around, but if someone tested positive they would be more reluctant. However, if anyone wanted written proof they could make an arrangement with Care Works to receive it at a later time.
Prior to the testing, in batches of 15, the boys and girls heard a lecture on the importance of medical male circumcision and its role in the fight against HIV and AIDS. A number of campers that were going to be 16 years and over took consent forms home to their parents to book their MMC in the June/July school holidays.
Poortjie had the largest group of campers, with 26 campers and 4 vochelis, followed by Orange Farm with 21 campers and 3 vochelis , Zola with 13 campers and 2 vochelis, Eldos and Fons with 12 campers and 4 vochelis, and Copessa with 9 campers testing. Copessa’s vochelis were on duty since the youth club was running at the same time.
A total of 80 campers and 19 vochelis were tested, with one individual who did not test because s/he already knew their status. 19 vochelis also got tested. In addition to the 99 campers and vochelis who were tested, a policeman who was driving by spotted the tents and asked if he could have a test, providing 100 total tests administered.
We had a variety of activities keeping campers busy while others were being tested. Vocheli Lwazi was running the yoga activity. Her 30 minute session was about teaching campers how to feel calm and relaxed. The theater activity put campers into groups of 7 people, and each group had four minutes to create a skit using the words, “no, yes, please, banana.” After the groups planned their skits they took turns performing for the whole group, and campers really enjoyed this activity. We then had sports which divided campers into two groups. The group of girls played netball while the boys played soccer.
By 4pm all the testing was completed and our HCT day was over. We had a very successful day, and send a big thank you to all who helped in making it possible.
30th Annual AIDS Walk New York City
On Sunday, May 17th, Global Camps Africa joined over 30,000 people on a 10k walk through Central Park in New York City. 15 volunteers joined the Global Camps Africa team in our walk, and it was a fun time for all. It was wonderful to be part of an event that showed such solidarity and support for those affected by HIV and AIDS. Thanks to all of the supporters who joined us, and for all those who donated to support the team!
Report from the field - Phil Lilienthal, President and Founder
Jane Kilgore was a counselor at a Texas camp I visited some 5-6 years ago. She had a passion to come to Africa and this year volunteered to work in a youth home in Magaliesburg, South Africa. Little did she know it was only a few minutes from where we host Camp Sizanani and she found a way to join us in April's camp session.
It was a great opportunity for GCA as we have heard of the need within Magaliesburg, where we hold camp (an hour outside of Soweto where our typical campers come from). But we have never partnered with any local organizations because there weren't opportunities to take the camp back to the community and have follow-on activities similar to Youth Clubs to ensure a long-term impact on the campers lives. Jane hopes to help develop an after-camp program in Magailesburg before she returns to the US.
Saying yes to her and to 10 of the kids from her project was one of the best things we could have done. Jane was a knowledgeable counselor and a valuable addition to the life skills staff. And even more so, the campers who came with her were thrilled with the experience they found at camp. We couldn't be more delighted to have found a way to expand the impact of Camp Sizanani to a gracious community that has been our home site for so many years.