Community Health Programme

Community Health Programme

Mamelani’s Community Health Programme shares essential health information with people to enable them to make informed choices and take action to improve their health and the health of their families.
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It is widely accepted that health literacy is key to preventing illness. The workshops are not limited to, but are attended mostly by women, who traditionally are caregivers for their families. If these women do not have access to correct information regarding health, nutrition and accessing clinic services, they are left to make decisions that result in poor management of health conditions, and often lead to avoidable health issues and create an extra financial burden on the family. The information and support provided in the workshops assists these women in being able to make informed choices and best care for themselves and their loved ones.

How We Work

The development practice within the Health Programme rests on a popular education philosophy and adult education theory regarding what brings about transformation, as well as, how to create an engaging learning environment for adults. We believe adults learn best when their lived experience and knowledge is acknowledged as part of the learning process. We see participants, not as empty vessels, waiting to be filled with information and skills, but rather as people with a wealth of knowledge and life experience to draw on, and that our role is to enable them to make more informed decisions and have a stronger sense of agency to shift the difficulties around them.

Wellness Workshops

We run a series of community-based health education workshops over an 8-week period in which we share essential health information. In these workshops we create safe spaces in which people can talk honestly about the challenges they face and ask the questions they fear to ask elsewhere. We use a participatory methodology. We promote learning from each other and mutual support within the group. The workshops are attended mostly by unemployed women from HIV support groups, home-based care groups, church groups and community action groups.
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The Wellness Workshops cover a range of health topics including infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, TB and diarrhoea) as well as Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle (Obesity, Hypertension and Diabetes). The workshops aim to strengthen the well-being of participants from a holistic perspective, working with their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The workshop series is followed by a healthy cooking demonstration and participants are taught how to use a “hotbox” for cooking using less electricity. The workshops are facilitated in isiXhosa or English. Workshops have been facilitated across the Cape Flats, from Nyanga to Khayelitsha and Samora Machel to Dunoon.
Workshops are implemented by trained facilitators and cover a variety of topics:

  • Understanding how the body and the immune system works
  • Understanding prevention, symptoms and treatment for infectious and chronic diseases of lifestyle (HIV/AIDS, TB, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Arthritis and Cancer)
  • Information regarding access and adherence to treatment regimens and the correct use of prescribed medication
  • Healthy eating and healthy lifestyle
  • Low cost healthy cooking
  • Lowering electricity costs – cooking using a “hotbox”

The full workshop series is offered to an estimated 300-500 women annually. The content of the workshops is tailored to the needs of each specific group. The workshops are facilitated weekly throughout the year to groups of between 15-20 people at a time.

Counselling

We provide individual psychosocial support so that participants from these workshops can focus on taking steps to improve their health. These consultations often provide the first real opportunity for people to reveal their HIV/AIDS status and express their fears and share their challenges. Where necessary, participants are referred to partner organisations for specialised services. For this reason, it has been key for Mamelani to build a network of partners, to be able to refer appropriately.

Grassroots Leadership Development

We have also initiated a grassroots leadership initiative, in which women who have attended the wellness workshops are selected to participate in a capacity building process to support their activities in the community. These ‘Community Champions’ have become resources for health information, referrals and support within their own community.
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Community Champions are beacons of light in their communities. These women are selected from our Wellness Workshops for the initiative they have taken to improve the health of their community and their ability to inspire those around them. The programme runs over 18-months, working with women from different communities. In the first six months, participants attend a series of capacity building workshops. The workshops are intended to acknowledge and strengthen the valuable work that these women are doing, as well as create a safe space for these women to learn from each other, and to share their stories. At the end of the process, each woman is matched with a mentor who provides ongoing support for one year. The mentors, who are Mamelani facilitators, walk alongside these women to support them in building their initiatives.In 2012 we completed the pilot of the Community Champions Programme. We worked with 12 women from 6 different communities. All the women participated in a 4-month capacity building process, followed by 1-year of mentoring. The group met on a quarterly basis to continue to support each other as peers. This initiative has fostered deeper relationships between the women themselves, as well as between Mamelani and the communities in which we work. In 2013 we began working with a new group of Community Champions from 6 different communities. The capacity building process was completed in 2013, with 18 participants, and mentoring will take place during 2014.

Meet some of the Community Champions…

 

“I am a very strong woman: I have been through abuse in my life, but I survived and it made me strong. Now I use my strength to help other women. I am glad that I came to the workshops, to tell the story of my community. Being a Community Champion has helped me to stay strong about the work I do in my community”
Mam’ Nomntu runs an aftercare programme in her community.

“During Community Champion Training I gained skills in communication and how to be patient when you are working with people. The mentor has helped me with so many things – it was not easy for me when things were hard at the soup kitchen, but now I am learning to keep record of the finances, looking at the budget, sticking to the needs of the soup kitchen. Mamelani assisted me with finding funding to be able to get food for people who need to eat, especially those who are taking medication. I am where I am today because of Mamelani, with the big thank you – Phambili Mamelani Phambili!”
Mam’ Mickey started the Yiza Ekhaya soup kitchen to support and care for vulnerable children in her community. She feeds more than 100 children 3 times a week.