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.

Apr 29, 2019

Aches and pains melt away with TRE

TRE community facilitators in training
TRE community facilitators in training

Since our last report in January 2019, our Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) community facilitators have been hard at work and the next round of training has started. Thanks to the funds raised by our GlobalGiving family, they are bringing relief to individual clients as well as Hlokomela field staff on a weekly basis.

Success stories

A local lodge owner referred one of their employees to Hlokomela for TRE after being through a very traumatic experience. The lady is about 38 years old, does not have a child of her own and suffered a miscarriage last year. After so many years of trying to conceive at all, she has been struggling to accept the miscarriage.

One of Hlokomela’s in-house TRE facilitators, Tshepo Lewele, did TRE with her and after the very first session, she had a peaceful nap after a long time of not being able to close her eyes during the day due to flashbacks of the trauma.

Two days after the session she called the facilitator and said that she is very thankful for the TRE because she is now feeling positive about life, and TRE has helped her to accept and move on.

Training new TRE community facilitators

Word about last year’s pilot Community Facilitators TRE training has spread and we had lots of applicants who wanted the benefits of the 6-month program for themselves and for people in their community. They wanted to experience the release of years of tension and stress and begin to heal from trauma, which is all pervasive in the Limpopo rural communities.

We were able to select 14 applicants from the Hoedspruit area to attend the training 1 ½ hours away in Tzaneen, Limpopo. There, in a church hall, Dr Erika Coertzen is teaching a total of 23 participants (9 from the Greater Tzaneen area) on 9 Fridays from March 2019 to September 2019. We have 2 translators, Kgopotso and Elizabeth, both TRE qualified, and a number of TRE facilitators who volunteer their time to assist in this exciting and rewarding project.

In the first 3 training days, we have seen the 4 men and 19 women start to process individual traumas within the safe space of the group. One mother was finally able to release the grief for her stillborn child, another woman took two sessions, filled with both crying and laughing, to let go of a knife attack that injured her badly. However, usually, people don’t know and don’t need to know what specific trauma and stress they are releasing. It is the great advantage of TRE as a modality that it evokes a physiological body reflex and does not require talking about the trauma.

Participants find that pains and headaches are disappearing, they are reporting better sleep, higher energy levels, fewer menstruation problems and improved sex! These are usually the first signs of reduced tension in the body and as the process deepens it can lead to more peace of mind, clearer thinking, more balanced temperaments and less anger and frustration.

Last year’s graduates have a standing invitation to join and Grace, a social worker, came recently to share her experiences. Her insight and personal growth with TRE is inspiring!


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