Monday, January 18, 2010

CHIPS Moves into Macethuka

A week ago we made our first official CHIPS visit into Macethuka. Macethuka (which means 'sleeping on your back') is a settlement of sugar cane farm workers who work in Vuvulane, a sugar cooperative. The people here are living as squatters, but allowed to stay as long as they work in the fields. Over seventy people attended our CHIPS introduction meeting. Teresa discussed the purpose of CHIPS and who is eligible to participate: primarily HIV+ children and/or HIV+ caregivers to the children.
Daran took the opportunity to address the men of the community to encourage them to take responsibility for their health. They, like most men around the world, wait till they are literally on death's door step before they will admit they need help and seek health care. It is a sign of weakness to seek medical help! For many that means a death sentence. In early January we received another message from Jabaulani that yet another man from Maphiveni (in his early 40's) had died just a week from being initiated on Anti-Retro-Virals (ARV's) with CHIPS. He had waited too long to seek help.
This past Friday, Jabulani and Mary visited Macethuka again to begin the process of registering people into the program (those who may already know they are HIV+) and to begin the process of educating and identifying children and caregivers who should be tested (because of ongoing health issues, family history, etc).
Mary was hired in November to give CHIPS the capacity to expand into additional communities. This is the first of two additional communities we'll move CHIPS into this year. Mary also brings the expertise to begin HIV testing in the community. If we can test in the community, it will reduce the number of people-trips required to Good Shepherd Hospital's HIV testing centre and make more seats available on the khombi (passenger van) for other CHIPS participants. We do however need to purchase an additional vehicle so Mary can get to these communities. We would ask that you would consider partnering with us to facilitate this. A decent vehicle that will survive the gravel roads will cost us about 35000 Emalangeni (about $5000 USD). CHIPS saves lives.
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