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Nov 1, 2018

TRE Community facilitators graduate at Hlokomela

TRE Community Facilitators graduation ceremony
TRE Community Facilitators graduation ceremony

Through the support of our GlobalGiving family, sixteen nompilos (community health workers), peer educators, home-based carers and community workers from the Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa, and Tzaneen areas were trained as TRE Community Facilitators. TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) is a method to help release tension stored in the body due to stress, anxiety, and trauma. TRE can be used in crises and after accidents as emergency interventions but is mainly taught as a self-help tool with the aim of bringing the body and mind back into balance, thereby improving overall health.

  Over a period of 6 months Dr. Erika Coertzen, a doctor of integrative medicine from Tzaneen, trained participants, culminating in a graduation celebration on 4 October 2018 at Hlokomela.

  It has long been Dr. Erika Coertzen’s dream to spread TRE to the rural communities where people have little access to mental health facilities. In a pilot project, Hlokomela in Hoedspruit hosted eight training days where participants, selected by three NGOs, learned how the body responds to stress and trauma and how to alleviate the symptoms. These NGOs, Hlokomela, CHoiCe Trust and Anova Health Institute, have been working with TRE for a number of years and have seen such positive results that they decided to support this project. Funding was, as always, a difficulty and the costs the NGOs could not cover were raised through private and corporate sponsoring, notably through our GlobalGiving project. Thank you!

  The participants soon felt the benefits of TRE on their own bodies and thoroughly enjoyed the course days. There was a wonderful sense of connection in the group and attendance was almost perfect. The feedback has been astonishing as most participants reported improvements in sleep, anxiety, irritability, digestion, aches and pains and energy levels after 6 months of practicing TRE.

  Equipped with donated yoga mats and blankets these new TRE Community Facilitators will go out and facilitate TRE with people who have experienced some form of trauma and teach it to as many people as possible as a self-help tool to support them in coping with their life circumstances.

  The pilot was a resounding success and the course will be repeated next year, spreading TRE further in our communities to counteract the effects of trauma and stress, improving the mental and physical health of the population. We are confident that we will be able to repeat the course with your continued support!

  For more information contact Susannah Cole-Hamilton on or follow us on Facebook ‘TRE Limpopo & Mpumalanga’.


Oct 24, 2018

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Hlokomela

Sr Nomsa Mashile teaches breast self examination
Sr Nomsa Mashile teaches breast self examination

We are excited to give some feedback on the last 3 months here at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

The team from Jacaranda FM (Possibly the largest South African Radio station and certainly one of the most popular) form part of an amazing initiative where the morning show host, Martin Bester (DJ and musician) and his band tour the country and involve communities of the towns they tour across South Africa.  There is no cover charge for the show, instead, people are requested to donate a blanket as entry fee, or in the case of Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, a packet of sanitary pads.

On 10 August 2018 the tour came to Hoedspruit! Hlokomela Women’s Clinic was the beneficiary for the event. The morning Breakfast show was broadcast live from the Moditlo Events Hub.

Christine du Preez and myself, Sonja Botha, were given the opportunity to talk about Hlokomela and in particular, the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, live on air. We were able to talk about the 4D Ultrasound now available and about the impact that the Women’s Clinic has on the Hoedspruit community.

This event was a huge success! The sanitary products and blankets have already been given to people in great need of these very basic things. 

Referral system

Identifying and diagnosing pathology is one thing, what comes after that is another thing altogether.

The referral system that is in place within the Government protocol, is just not effective or even functional at best. This challenge came under the attention of the COO of the Breast Health Foundation, Louise Turner. By January 2019 with the support of the Breast Health Foundation, a proper referral system, including accommodation, support before during and after treatment, will be put into place and made available for each patient with breast cancer.

Discussions and negotiations are also underway to allow for biopsies and more advanced procedures to be done locally.

Outreaches and Events

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Rotary in conjunction with Hlokomela hosted a wellness day on 12 October 2018. This event was a great success and just under 100 women were given free physical breast examinations and education on breast cancer. 

Throughout this month Hlokomela Women’s Clinic is involved various outreaches and awareness campaigns on farms in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region. The aim of these outreaches are to promote awareness about breast and cervical cancer. These events give farm workers the opportunities to receive physical breast examinations and the opportunity to be referred to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic in the case of a suspicious finding.

During these outreaches, women are given talks on women’s health and encouraged to ask questions. Each woman receives sanitary products and male and female condoms are also offered to them. We reach 200 to 350 people on such a day. 

The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic was also invited to speak about breast cancer at a “high tea” event for the elderly in the Hoedspruit area. Breast self-examination was demonstrated, a session of questions and answers allowed for some fun interaction. This was a lovely opportunity to reach yet another vulnerable group of women in our society.


We are very excited to welcome Dr. Petra Friedmann to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. Dr. Friedmann is a German gynecologist and will be volunteering from early October and into November. Many of our patients have already benefitted from her knowledge and skills. I am personally looking forward to learning as much as possible from her.

Thank you to our GlobalGiving friends for your support over the last 3 months!  You make all the difference to our work here at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic!

Kgopotso teaches young girls about safe sex
Kgopotso teaches young girls about safe sex
Breast cancer awareness for farm workers
Breast cancer awareness for farm workers


Aug 2, 2018

Trauma debriefing changing lives at Hlokomela

Community Health Workers TRE training group
Community Health Workers TRE training group

With only the last training session left to go before our Community Health Workers will qualify as Trauma Releasing Excercises (TRE) facilitators, the benefits of TRE are becoming more apparent each day. Thank you for this opportunity that we can share our excitement with you, our GlobalGiving family!

Besides the many anticipated benefits our Community Health Workers will bring to people in the communities of Hoedspruit and Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, our patients here at Hlokomela Clinic are already reaping the fruits of having a fully trained TRE facilitator at Hlokomela, Kgopotso Manamela.

 Sara* was sent to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic by her employer. After obtaining her general medical history, Sonja Botha performed a breast, abdominal as well as pelvic ultrasound. All vital signs were taken and found to be in order.  After the examination the conversation lead Sara to open up about some of the emotional challenges she was facing. It came to light that she has lost both her children, the first born child at 6 months. After the loss of her child she fell pregnant again and lost that child just before he graduated from kindergarten. Sara lost both of her children in very traumatic ways.

Sara had never been counselled after the loss of her children and it was clear that she needed help. You see, Sara hasn’t menstruated in 4 years, and she so desperately wants a child. Her body just did not want to co-operate. We referred her to the hospital for further medical examination but for her emotional well-being we knew we could help.

Hlokomela’s in-house TRE facilitator, Kgopotso Manamela, completed one TRE session with Sara right here at Hlokomela. Afterwards, Sara said that she felt less stressed and more relaxed overall. Kgopotso has committed to facilitating more sessions with Sara.

The story of Sara just reiterates the importance of a holistic approach when working with people. We could very easily have missed the hurt and pain this woman was going through had we focused only on the physical symptoms. I salute this amazing Hlokomela team for their compassion!

*Sara is a pseudonym used in this report to protect our patient’s true identity.


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