In KwaZulu-Natal 30% of women visiting antenatal clinics are HIV positive and by 2010 it is estimated there will be 50,000 children orphaned by AIDS.
The Mercury Phoenix Trust has been annually funding this grass roots organisation in the remote rural village of Mboza in North East Zululand since 2003. One of the most underdeveloped and poverty stricken areas in Maputaland, Esiphondweni focuses on AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. Remote and isolated with high unemployment and poor social services, a disadvantaged education system and poor health care it is a daily struggle for survival. Although the KwaZulu-Natal province is developing fast, because this area is so out of the way and hard to reach, there is little or no help from the district government. Esiphondweni rely very much on our support for their HIV/AIDS awareness and life skills campaign in schools and at community gatherings. They work to encourage Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT), fight discrimination and stigma, provide home based care and support and to strengthen the community’s ability to care for the ever increasing number of orphans and abandoned children. Last year they received a visit from the National Minister of Home Affairs to Mboza and the local authorities have promised to build a Community Care Centre in the village. Question is – did it materialise or was it a vain hope?
Retro Viral Drugs (RTV) and condoms are now freely available but failure to disclose HIV positive status because of discrimination, stigma and risk of actual physical harm (“you come out at your own risk”) is severely hampering the task of educating and convincing people. They have found that 50% of the HIV/AIDS support group or general members of the public have not disclosed their status. Their work is to intensify their effort, especially with youth through workshops, public gatherings, schools. We receive regular reports and feedback.
These people desperately need help and it goes directly to them, so be great if any one was interested in getting involved.