Voices

The Stephen Lewis Foundation’s grassroots partners are critical actors in the response to the COVID-19 response in sub-Saharan Africa. We have received many questions from our supporters asking how our partners are doing and looking for updates on their work and the communities they serve. In the upcoming series of Voices, we will share the stories of their work and how community-based organizations are best placed to protect and support the most vulnerable populations.

Dear Grandmothers and Grandothers

COVID-19 poses a major public health threat throughout sub-Saharan Africa and people affected by HIV and AIDS are most at risk, particularly grandmothers and the children in their care. In South Africa, a national lockdown began on March 27th.  As of April 15th, South Africa’s health minister is reporting 2506 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

We recently received an update from Tateni Community Care Services, an SLF partner in South Africa. Tateni began by providing home-based care services to the people of Mamelodi and surrounding informal settlements. That focus has broadened over time to include orphans and vulnerable children, with an emphasis on youth development. With the lockdown looming, staff there dedicated their final three days before the restrictions were in place to ensuring that their most vulnerable members had the medicines and food they need while in self-isolation.

For families with children living with HIV, regular access to food is an important component of their antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.  Prior to the lockdown, the children were fed at Tateni’s drop-in centres. With restrictions on movement, the organization has had to find new ways to ensure that the children, and other patients living with HIV, have access to the food they need.“To prevent non-adherence, all HIV+ beneficiaries will receive food parcels,”  wrote Gratty Phala, the Executive Director of Tateni. “We must make sure that none of our beneficiaries taking ARV treatment stop (taking their medicines) due to lack of food. Currently, they are all adhering to their treatment and we want them to continue taking treatment during the lockdown. We will attend to their emotions as well, since a high level of stress won’t be good for their health.”
Tateni’s programmes address the physical, mental and emotional needs of the communities it serves. While these are challenging times, the staff is committed to finding new ways of continuing this holistic care.
 
Our partners are working tirelessly to ensure that communities affected by HIV and AIDS continue to have the support they need. As an act of solidarity in this time of global vulnerability, please consider donating to the SLF COVID-19 Appeal.
Home-based care workers in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, visit clients in one of many rural communities where their care ensures medicines are taken properly and consistently, nutritional needs are met, food packages are delivered, stigma is reduced, and emotional support is provided. While COVID-19 is challenging this crucial aspect of community-care, SLF partner organizations are adapting and responding to this new pandemic with focus and determination.

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