Day 7 – Community discussion on HIV/Aids

Written by Francois Firket

The Thursday morning was really intensive. After breakfast, we started with a workshop on MDG8, “Global Partnership for Development”, during which we learned how development could be achieved trough 3 types of foreign investment (foreign direct investments from companies, transfer from emigrants and development aid).

Then, we went for a new visit to Khayelitsha where, together with a group of volunteers, we participated in a workshop on MDG6. Here we gained plenty of new knowledge about HIV/AIDS infection, causes, prevention and the taboo around the pandemic. The most shocking data was that 30 percent of South Africans is infected with HIV and the statistics are even more drastically high for the youth living in townships. Together with name games and funny songs, the facilitator broke the ice and created a respectful learning atmosphere.

The debate involved discussion on the opportunity to pass a law which could oblige the youth to inform their teachers and parents about their status of HIV infection. It appeared that students would not want to reveal their status as they were afraid to be discriminated, through rejection by their parents and exclusion from school. They referred expressly to the right of choice whether to reveal their status or not. On the contrary, it was mentioned that a law could provide an evolution of the mentality. Whether law can change society or society can change the law, the rule of silence seemed to have a fruitful future in townships.

After the workshop, we visited a VPUU project aiming to prevent violence in Khayelitsha and consequently to improve the quality of life of the residents. VPUU creates partnerships with public sector, private sector and several organization of the civil society to provide residents of the townships with an enriching, active and safe environment.

Since the end of the apartheid, massive urban immigration which had been previously limited by the apartheid increased demographic pressure on the resources of the city of Cape Town. Khayelitsha means new home in IsiXhosa which is the local African language. Until now, the municipalities were running out of resources to answer the needs of the residents. For example, there is only one police station equipped with 5 autos to patrol an area with 300,000 residents. In South Africa, crime is one of the most important concerns and different statistics show that South African, particularly in townships, are facing very high percentage of rapes, murders and robberies. 79 percent of the residents feel crime is intolerably high. In order to tackle crime, VPUU planned to transform mostly residential area into lively neighborhood involved in economical, cultural and social activities while giving responsibilities to communities for their own safety. We witnessed the value of the resources invested by VPUU consisting in the creation of various business hubs, cultural centers, sport centers and parks. The means of the government seem especially scarce but organization such as VPUU bring innovative ideas and finances which bring new hopes for the development of the townships into a place offering better living standard and higher opportunities for its residents.

More images of the discussions and surroundings:

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