At the Appreciation Day for us prior to leaving Ndawana in March, Chris’s sister Sue had the privilege of a conversation with one of the village men, Joe Bekwa, who had been the chief builder of most of the community centre. He told her that before Edzimkulu arrived people in the village were sick and dying and they didn’t know what was happening to them. Children were dying in early childhood. There was very little knowledge and understanding of HIV and AIDS and people were afraid to talk about it. Even those that weren’t sick were struggling to survive with very high unemployment and very little support from outside their village. Today life is very different in Ndawana, and it’s now a community that has been empowered with knowledge, with health care, with support, with education, with love and with pride. It’s not affluent but it’s better than that, it’s vibrant and healthy. People now understand HIV – they even performed a song and dance routine about the “ABCs” of prevention that included a rollicking chorus of “Abstain, Be Faithful, Condomize.” Numerous community members have participated in Stepping Stones, a package “designed in response to the vulnerability of most women, men and young people in decision-making regarding sexual behaviour, through men’s gendered patriarchal domination of women and older people’s generally repressive attitudes towards youth.” They have a busy clinic that is now operated by the Department of Health and employs people from the area and they have a good, solid core of people that are committed to keeping things going.
Thank you so much everyone that has been part of this journey and that has supported Edzimkulu over these years. Please know that you are loved and appreciated and that we will do everything in our power to keep things going.