WWS focuses on a holistic approach to the local HIV epidemic through a variety of specific community programmes: HIV prevention and awareness, treatment and palliative care, support services to those infected and affected by HIV. Situated in Vaalwater, a small town in the heart of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve in Limpopo, northern South Africa, the target catchment area includes Leseding township, with an estimated population of 22 000, and a further 10 000 plus people living rurally on farms surrounding Vaalwater.
Prevention and Awareness
WWS runs a multi-faceted HIV/AIDS awareness programme entitled Stepping Forward ... is a Step Forward, which includes distinct age-related and gender-specific programmes, such as Boys 2 Men. Voluntary counselling and testing is a key aspect of the awareness programmes.
Voluntary Counselling and Testing
Voluntary counselling and testing is a key aspect to the awareness programmes and requires dedicated and experienced counsellors to make sure that clients are well informed and supported when testing for HIV. Clients receive rigorous counselling before being tested, to ensure that they understand the disease and the implications of the treatment. Ongoing counselling for HIV-positive patients is essential to ensure they conform to the adherence criteria before starting anti-retroviral therapy. The mobile clinic enables WWS to reach patients in the community in more rural and isolated areas, who would otherwise struggle to obtain anti-retroviral treatment. With this facility, WWS takes counselling, testing and treatment to the patient’s door.
Treatment and Palliative Care
WWS runs a comprehensive care plan that incorporates palliative care at our HSPCA-accredited hospice, a network of home-based carers for home-based palliative and home-based care, and a Wellness clinic in Vaalwater for voluntary councelling, testing and anti-retroviral treatment. A mobile clinic extends these services to the rural communities. WWS is currently working in conjunction with local government to establish and transition patients to a local government treatment centre in Vaalwater.
WWS currently runs a wellness clinic for people living with AIDS. We provide treatment and medical support for 1 100 patients, 600 of whom are on anti-retroviral treatment. WWS is in the process of transitioning our patients to the Government clinic in the Vaalwater township,as treatment is now available. To ensure the continued quality of service for our patients, we have committed to support, mentor and assist the Government clinic with the day to day running of this clinic over the next three years; specifically, this includes a data capturer, doctor, counsellors, nurses and resources.
Our HSPCA-accredited hospice offers holistic palliative care to those infected with HIV/AIDS. We have trained professionals who are able to assist patients with the best possible care in areas of home-based care, hospice care and respite care.
Home-base care (HBC) offers care to the patient in the comfort of their own home. Mobile teams of professionally supervised trained carers travel to people’s homes to support and educate families how to provide care at home. All HBC visits are documented in a patient file and then on our data system.
The mobile clinic supports the Stepping Forward outreach programme and offers access to HIV testing and management. The mobile clinic visits rural communities weekly delivering anti-retroviral medication, and providing counselling, testing and support to those infected with HIV. Patients who would be unable to access HIV care due to their rural locality are supported and able to receive much needed medical attention via WWS mobile clinic. Our dedicated staff who work in these programmes understand the challenges of HIV as many are themselves are HIV positive. This has naturally encouraged the establishment of support groups in the various rural locations and they are well monitored and mentored by the Stepping Forward team.
In order to provide a holistic response to HIV/AIDS, WWS provides a number of supportive services for our clients, including all patients, orphans and vulnerable children and youth. WWS strives to support and develop the orphans and vulnerable children within our target group. Although we do not reach all of them, we run inclusive programmes from Timothy House youth centre. An important component of our support services are the ‘support groups’ which have been set up within the community, to provide the vital support that people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV/AIDS require.
As employers of over 65 staff from the community, part of what we do on a daily basis, is skills training and development for our staff. A radio recording studio, Waterberg Waves, was established with the view not only to establish a community radio station from which HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness messages could be broadcast to a wider audience, but also to help develop a skills base within our youth. WWS also runs and supports Dumela vegetable garden.
Support Groups and Spiritual Care
From emotional, to spiritual, to practical, qualified WWS staff give advice and support within the community. An element of this support is centred around encouraging disclosure of HIV status within the community in order to help break stigmatisation. Individuals are also encouraged to re-enter employment and live normal lives. Our pastor is available to offer spiritual counselling and bereavement counselling.
Dumela Vegetable Gardens
Dumela Vegetable Garden plans a variety of education and training opportunities and provides income-generation by employment and selling of vegetables. The gardens supply fresh produce for the patients and children and now grows vegetables for the local commercial market.