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Jul 9, 2020

The End of the Sanitary Pad Project...for now.

Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our organisation, Hlokomela has had to relook all our activities and restructure accordingly to adapt to the challenges. 

One of the activities that needed restructuring was the Sewing Project that was making our Washable Sanitary Pads. The Sewing Project has started making masks and buff to support the local agricultural sector to help protect their workers. This has been very lucrative for the ladies working in the Sewing Project, whilst also serving a very important purpose within the larger community.

The Sewing Project team is working very hard to make as many buffs and masks to also support local communities in this pandemic. These masks and buffs are sold to commercial farms but is also added to food parcels that Hlokomela is currently distributing to families in need.

Unfortunately the Sanitary Pad Project is one of the projects that had to be halted in the short term due to its higher cost. All funds raised will however still be allocated towards buying washable sanitary pads from other suppliers for distribution in local communities.

We hope that we can start this project up again in the future.

Hlokomela would like to thank everyone that has been supporting this project. 

It is only through your generosity that we are able to to continue the work we are doing in rural Limpopo.

 

May 12, 2020

Fighting breast cancer and tackling COVID-19

Hlokomela staff ready to screen for COVID19.
Hlokomela staff ready to screen for COVID19.

We gladly share with you, our reader and faithful supporters at GlobalGiving, what we have been up to during the last 3 months in the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

At the start of March, when COVID-19 started making its way into South Africa, life as we know it changed completely. In this report you will read a lot about what we have been doing to flatten the curve, educate, train and screen the larger community of Hoedspruit and surrounds in the rural area of Limpopo Province.

Risk reduction training for sex workers

During the last two months, the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic has been actively involved in outreach campaigns in conjunction with the Hlokomela Sex Worker Programme. We have gone out into taverns and villages to conduct Pap smear tests, teach about breast cancer awareness, breast self-examination as well as teaching and education on COVID-19. Special hand wash demonstrations were given to ensure that people understand the correct way of using hand sanitizer and how to wash hands effectively.

Patients on treatment

We currently have one patient on chemo. *Mrs Wilson (50 years old) came into the Women’s Clinic with a previously diagnosed (by her GP) abscess. She did not respond to antibiotic treatment and asked that we do a breast ultrasound on her just to make sure that there was not some underlying problem that may have been missed initially. After the ultrasound was done, a biopsy/fine needle aspiration was indicated and Dr Inez Allin, a volunteer from the Tshemba Foundation, performed the procedure. The cytology results came back as positive for breast cancer. Mrs Wilson has since started chemotherapy and is doing well.

*Mrs Moore, is a 60-year-old patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer 15 years ago. The mass was detected very early and she was in remission shortly after a round of chemo. Two months ago she felt a lump in her right breast and came to the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic for an ultrasound. Nothing suspicious was found in the right breast, but we did find a highly suspicious mass in the left breast. After a core biopsy, test results came back positive for breast cancer. She has since undergone a double mastectomy and she is recovering well.

*Mrs Nyati is a 50-year-old patient who felt a lump in her left breast while taking a shower one morning. She decided to have it checked and came for an ultrasound. The mass looked suspicious on ultrasound and a biopsy confirmed that it was breast cancer. She underwent two rounds of chemo and is now cancer-free and in remission.

*These are pseudonyms used to protect the true identity of our patients.                  

Production of buffs and masks

To date, the Hlokomela Sewing Project has made over 7000 buffs and masks to protect farmworkers on their daily commute to work. The Sewing Project has also made masks for Hlokomela’s healthcare workers in the Women’s Clinic.

Outreach and awareness

From the beginning of March, we have reached more than 5000 people with demonstrations on the correct handwashing technique, social distancing measures, how to protect oneself from contracting the virus and personal hygiene. The Women’s Clinic staff played a vital role in these outreaches.

Preparing clinic for COVID-19

Our clinics have put in place measures on how to deal with COVID-19 cases who attend our clinics and are ready for receiving these patients and transferring them to the closest hospital for testing and treatment. We have implemented outdoor handwashing stations where all staff, clients and visitors wash hands before entering the clinic. Additional outdoor client waiting areas have also been implemented to adhere to social distancing standards. 

Distribution of food parcels

From 14 to 30 April 2020, Hlokomela distributed 700 food parcels containing food items such as mealie meal, beans, tinned fish and cooking oil with basic items such as candles and soap. These food parcels were distributed to farmworkers along with more than 30 tonnes of citrus fruit donated by local farms.

Hand wash demo by Hlokomela staff.
Hand wash demo by Hlokomela staff.
Teaching cough etiquette in local languages
Teaching cough etiquette in local languages

Links:

Feb 25, 2020

Let it grow

The team

As promised, the team is growing. We'll be welcoming our new seamstress early March 2020, Yeahhh! Very exciting to see the team growing, toward larger production and of course bigger impact. Our new lady will be trained and developed with the support of our master seamstresses Mama Irene and Mama Johanna.

Even though she's already a seamstress super star, the main priority for the coming months will be to get her up to speed with our quality standards. 

Partnership and training

Since our last report, we had the opportunity to develop new partnerships with local farms and other NGO's, with a view of expanding our distribution capacity. In fact we already started distribution of our pads directly to young female farmers and the feedbacks were encouraging and overwelming. 

Our main objective here is to increase our local footprint, partnering with organisations that could help us gain access and trust to specific key populations who need sanitary pads (school, orphenage).

Production and distribution

Our production is now up and going fully. We relocated our Sewing project to a larger space on the other side of our building. This will allow us to keep on growing the team, while providing a better and cleaner working environemt for our seamstresses.

Our next focus remains twofold:

- Streamline and increase our production capacity, with a focus on quality and confort.

- Develop new local distribution channels through partner organisations and projects fan (yes, we have fans now).

The future

Once again we would like to thank GlobalGiving, local and international donors, partners and everyone involved in the project to start with.

We are more motivated than ever to make this project a success and our motto remains: "It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela 

 
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