Jul 30, 2019

Easing trauma for victims of fire

No loss of life, but victims were traumatized.
No loss of life, but victims were traumatized.

We take great pride in sharing our progress on the Trauma Releasing Exercise training with you, our GlobalGiving family! Without you, we would not be able to bring the benefits of this debriefing strategy to the rural communities of Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Success story

On July 11, 2019, a number of small roadside fruit vendors’ shacks close to the Hlokomela offices burnt down in an accident. It happened early morning when it was very cold and dark. Many people were living in the shacks and they lost all their belongings. Fortunately, there was no loss of life but all the survivors were shocked and traumatised. Emotions were running high and the victims directed their anger towards the person who accidentally started the fire with a candle. Three people were seriously shocked and traumatised attended a TRE session at Hlokomela Clinic and they all felt much calmer afterwards. Follow up sessions will be done by the trained facilitators.

This is an example of how TRE can be used in any stressful or traumatic situation and how important it is to train more and more people in this skill to help themselves and in the very challenging communities in which they live.

Training continues to benefit participants

Over the past 3 months, the growth and change in the 14 participants training have been marked. They have made great progress and have grown in confidence. They work in pairs and are more outspoken about sharing their feelings and process of TRE with the group. They remain enthusiastic and all have experienced changes within themselves, which continues to motivate them under the skilled guidance of their trainer, Dr Erika Coertzen. One of the participants who miscarried twins last year felt deep grief and anger from the beginning of the training in March. At the July training session, she shared that she at last “felt free and without anger” thanks to the effect TRE has had on her. The training will be completed at the end of September.

With regards to the Hlokomela caregivers who trained last year, they continue to benefit from TRE on their own. Within their communities, they have reached 18 people including men, children and women. One very promising facilitator is was chosen to continue with TRE Module 2. More than 70 staff from Hlokomela, including Community Care Givers, continue to receive the support that TRE provides as part of debriefing for their work.


Jul 19, 2019

Saving patients' lives and self-confidence

Bra fitting.
Bra fitting.

It would not be possible for the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic to function and provide much-needed services to members of the greater Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, had it not been for each and every donation received from you, our GlobalGiving family! Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to each donor!

Only 2 breasts for *Penny!

It gives me great pleasure to share the story of one of our sex workers with you. *Penny came into the women’s clinic with a condition called poly-mastic breast tissue. This means that she has excess breast tissue under both her arms that looks like two extra breasts. Penny also had cystic breasts and a few other pathologies that were concerning.

After consulting with the Breast Health Foundation, it was decided that Penny should go to the Breast Clinic in Johannesburg to consult with the team there.

The consultations confirmed that she had no malignancies. Penny, however, was still “stuck” with the aesthetically unappealing extra breast tissue. This influenced all aspects of her life and income. The doctors at the Helen Joseph Hospital decided to provide *Penny with surgery that would remove the extra breast tissue.

*Penny has since recovered from surgery and is doing very well!

(*Penny is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of our patient.)

Volunteers improve diagnosing process with new software

Early in June, sisters, Madeleine and Samantha, started volunteering with Hlokomela. Samantha is 21 and is starting dentistry in September 2019. She is volunteering at the main clinic, Charity Shop and Herb Garden, she also helps out in the Women’s Clinic when needed.

Madeleine is 20 years old and she is a third-year Biomedical Engineering Student. Madeleine came to introduce a system called Koios. This is a software program specifically designed to assist in categorising breast ultrasound images into the international BIRADS rating system. The system rates masses from BIRADS 1 – 6. In other words, it rates a mass as benign, suspicious or malignant, with different criteria for each rating. Koios allows you to load an image of concern onto the program, the image is then run against thousands of images in the database. It then gives you a “second opinion” and assists with a BIRADS classification. Madeleine received a scholarship and a big part of her trip to South Africa and Hlokomela was made possible through the Koios company. Madeleine is teaching me and assisting me to get to know this program so that it can help me in the Women’s Clinic as a second opinion on difficult images. This program is user-friendly and FDA approved. It is used by many radiologists and Ultrasound Technicians in the USA.

Current patients

We currently have 10 patients who have gone for further testing and/or biopsies for suspected Breast Cancer. Three of the patients are currently in the process of receiving treatment plans.

Into the lives of patients

On May 2nd, a camera crew (initiated by the Breast Health Foundation and the Tshemba Foundation) visited the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. The aim of this visit was to conduct interviews with some of the staff members and patients. The crew joined me at the bus stop where patients started their journey to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit to receive treatment at the Helen Joseph Hospital. They also visited some of our cancer survivors at their homes and captured a glimpse of their daily lives.

Bravolution update

I never imagined that this initiative would take off the way it has! I am overwhelmed by the generosity and selfless support from women from all over the world! As mentioned in previous reports, Dr Hemelaar took the Bravolution to her friends and colleagues in the Netherlands. Around mid-June Dr Hemelaar’s friend from the Netherlands, J. Zaal came to visit South Africa. With her came a suitcase filled with 14kg of bras!! Wow, this was quite a handover!

We have had wonderful moments in the Women’s Clinic during bra fittings. Every woman receiving a bra also receives a little bit of dignity and pride. This is what caring does to people. I am super proud to be a part of this organisation!


Jun 5, 2019

Victims of our own success


Our staff have been hard at work training to become fulltime sanitary making professionals. We’ve run into some issue regarding working permits as the three ladies we have chosen to start the project with are all from Zimbabwe. Getting their working permits sorted has been a bit of an uphill battle. Clarah Mazadza and Irene Dzvene has working permits, but unfortunately Joana Kabote has a slightly harder process that we need to complete. The process has shown us how the systems that are suppose to serve society sometimes exclude so many citizens from opportunities.

However, we are positive that this issue will be resolved soon.



Our Partnership with Dignity Dreams, the organisation that will help us with training & quality control of our products, is still in its infancy phase and we have yet to determine the best way forward to ensure a steady and sustainable training programme for incoming seamstresses. We are also in the process of applying for a NACOSA ender to supply sexworkers with washable sanitary pads. If we were to get this project it would help us tremendously with resources and make it possible for us to reach more women . Not just with the pads, but also with the training programme.



With the NACOSA tender would allow us to acces a larger distribution network and make it possible for us to establish this project long term. NACOSA is a network of over 1,800 civil society organisations working together to turn the tide on HIV, AIDS and TB in Southern Africa. NACOSA promotes dialogue, builds capacity with accredited training, mentoring and technical assistance and channels resources to support service delivery on the ground, particularly among children and youth, key populations and women and girls. A project of this sort could ensure that the seamstresses that acces training could in theory have access to a large mark to supply their products to. All of this is very exciting, but needs to still be finalised. 


Fingers crossed. Opportunities galore.

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