Mpilonhle’s social work Coordinator Delly Mashele and health education co ordinator/external relation Gugulethu Zulu were guests at SABC News International’s Health Issues programme on the 19th of June 2009. Health issues is a 30 minutes current affairs television programme that is broadcast live every week day at 16:30 pm Central African time on MHZ 2 in the Washington DC area. It is also broadcast via free to air decoders across Africa and repeats on SABC 2 at 12:30 am daily.
Health issues focuses on health and environment issues on the African Continent, including unsual illnesses, deadly diseases, outbreaks etc that affect people across the globe. They tackle case studies and open discussions in the studio by inviting qualified practitioners across Africa and the world to be interviewed in their respective fields in medicine, health and environmental related matters.
The purpose of the Interview was to discuss Mpilonhle’s Programme and how it addresses the challenges faced by the youth in the Umkhanyakude district. Interview questions included Mpilonhle’s view on condom distribution and how HIV affects the population of Umkhanyakude. Since it is also in a Zulu speaking ditrict, the virginity testing posed to the Mpilonhle team especially as we operate in areas where this is practised and believed to be saving girls virginity.
It was explained responding to the questions asked on the condom issue that Mpilonhle signs contracts with school’s gorvening boards and conduct meetings with parents of the schools we work in. The reason is for the organisation to get permission from parents to work with their children and also inform them on the proceedings of Mpilonhle monthly visits to schools. Therefore condoms are made available to sexually active students who requests them during health screening in the counselling rooms, they are not distributed to everybody. There is a demonstration and education on the usage by the counsellor before they are given out.
Lastly one of the questions asked was how Mpilonhle deals with stigma. Mpilonhle believes in consistent education of the youth so that they will be able to make informed decisions about their lives and stigma is addressed repeatedly in the 90 minute health education classes. Furthermore the units are youth friendly, they give learners a sense of dignity when they visit them, that is why the units are colourfully branded with learners faces from these schools all over these units. The basic computer unit also assist in this regard where the whole programme is viewed comprehensively not as an HIV/AIDS mobile units but units that promotes health and positive lifestyle through the youth’s eye.
Compiled by Delli Mashele and Gugu Zulu