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Save women from breast cancer in South Africa

by Hoedspruit Training Trust
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Save women from breast cancer in South Africa
Women's health outreach
Women's health outreach

During COVID-19 the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic has been actively involved in working against the adverse effects of this pandemic as part of the Hlokomela team. With the support of the GlobalGiving community, we have been able to provide healthcare services to the women of rural Limpopo throughout the tough South African lockdown.

Production of buffs and masks

Over the past two weeks, the Hlokomela Sewing Project produced 2550 buffs. Total of 21 378 buffs made since March 2020.

Community screening and COVID-19 awareness

The mobile HTS team that goes out to farms in the Hoedspruit area to conduct HIV Testing Services do COVID-19 screening of each and every client as well. Over the past two weeks, the team screened 1109 people.

At Hlokomela’s three clinics, 643 individuals were screened for COVID-19 over the past three weeks. Handwashing demonstrations and health talks are presented to all clients before they enter the clinics.

Total screening until 30 August 2020: 23 290 individuals.

In cases where there is a high suspicion of COVID-19, individuals are tested right here at Hlokomela Clinic.

Distribution of food parcels

From April 2020, 4718 food parcels containing food items such as mealie meal, beans, tinned fish and cooking oil with basic items such as candles and soap were distributed to people in need.

Local farms are donating tonnes of fresh fruit on a weekly basis. To date, Hlokomela has distributed 53 tonnes of grapefruit donated by Bavaria, Blydevallei, and Dinaldedi, 89 tonnes of tangerines and 3 tonnes of oranges donated by Bavaria Fruit Estate, 7 tonnes oranges from Blydevallei and 6 tonnes of tangerines from Blydevallei.

Hlokomela Women’s Clinic

During the past three months, we have started the breast cancer journey with three women. Three very strong and resilient women. Because of awareness and breast self-examination taught by the Women’s Clinic, these ladies knew what to look out for. They were able to identify masses in their breasts and come to the clinic for a breast ultrasound. After a long process of further testing, we finally had a positive diagnosis of all three ladies. One of the women has a private healthcare fund and received chemotherapy very soon after diagnosis. On 10 September one of the state patients will start with chemo and our third patient will start radiation on 21 September.

4,5kg baby!

A peer educator in the Hlokomela Sex Worker Programme was diagnosed with gestational diabetes early in her pregnancy. Through careful monitoring throughout the pregnancy, her pregnancy was free of any complications. After doing a pregnancy ultrasound at 36 weeks’ gestation, it was determined that the baby’s weight was nearing 4,4kg. Her beautiful baby girl was born at 37 weeks via a C-Section and weighed 4,5kg. Her name is Sonja!

Woman suffering from severe menstrual bleeding finds help at Hlokomela

Hlokomela Women’s Clinic recently attended to a client who had been suffering from severe menstrual bleeding for months. She had very large fibroids and an HB of 4. After examining her and performing some tests and ultrasounds, we were able to communicate with a doctor at Tintswalo Hospital about further treatment. Before coming to Hlokomela, she had been sent from pillar to post without receiving help at any other facility. We are happy to report that she was admitted at Tintswalo and received a blood transfusion. She was discharged and came for a repeat Pap smear before further management will commence.

Teenager finds care and support at Hlokomela during pregnancy

*Lillian is 17 years old and came to Hlokomela for the first time when she was 5 months pregnant. She was scared, crying, uninformed and hungry. Lillian’s mother is very ill and her family is very poor. On top of all her challenges, Lillian had a severe urinary tract infection. Lillian had no understanding of birth or the process of birth so we took precious care of her at Hlokomela. She received counselling, health education, treatment and a scan confirming that she was expecting a little girl. We called Lillian’s school principal and got the governing body involved to assist her. Lillian received everything she needed to give her a good start as far as baby accessories are concerned. She also received food and clothes. Lillian stayed in contact throughout her pregnancy and called us 3 days after baby Matilda was born. On 27 August 2020 Lillian visited the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic with Matilda! What a pleasure it was to meet her and to see how well they were both doing!

*Lillian is a pseudonym used to protect the true identity of Hlokomela’s client.

Bravolution

Dr Majoie Hemelaar, a gynaecologist who volunteered at the Women’s Clinic, has continued her dedication and passion for the Bravolution. We received 5 bags of bras from the Netherlands. More than 300 women have benefited from this project over the past 2 years!

Bra donation received to assist poor rural women
Bra donation received to assist poor rural women

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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

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Womens health workshop for sex workers
Womens health workshop for sex workers

We gladly share with our GlobalGiving family what we have been up to during the last 3 months in the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

We are now offering Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs) as a birth control method to our patients. We have purchased the correct instruments and the IUDs can now be inserted in the comfort of the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic and is just one more option for women to choose from. Providing choice empowers!

Risk Reduction Workshop

In December the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic staff teamed up with staff from our Sex Workers program to present a risk reduction workshop for 26 sex workers in Phalaborwa, a nearby town. The aim of the workshop was to educate and teach sex workers about safe sex, breast cancer, self-breast examination as well as cervical cancer and the Pap smear procedure. The women enjoyed the talks and it was a very interactive session with many questions. This was also a great learning opportunity for the staff to gain a better understanding of the lives and realities of sex workers.

Hlokomela Tours

The Hlokomela Tours have been doing very well in the last couple of months. It has been such a wonderful opportunity to tell people from all over the world what we do at the Women’s Clinic. It has created some meaningful networking opportunities and we have built up great connections for possible future endeavours. Because we often have international guests on our tours, GlobalGiving has been an easy and convenient way for our tour guests to donate to the cause.

Women's health outreach for farmworkers

On 29 October the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic hosted a workshop and outreach at Bavaria Fruit Estate, a local mango and citrus farm. We addressed 183 female farmworkers about breast cancer, cervical cancer, abuse against women and children, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and the menstrual cycle.

The presentation was very well received and a fruitful Q & A was held afterwards. As a result of this outreach, 7 women have attended the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic for consultations. 5 of the 7 women have never had a Pap smear procedure done before and are over 45. It is good to see how our outreaches are improving access to women’s health services!

Bravolution

The Bravolution is going strong and we are continuing to provide our patients with good quality bras. We are continuing to motivate and teach self-breast examination to each women entering the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic and we are looking forward to screening many more patients in 2020. We currently have 3 patients on chemotherapy and 3 in the process of diagnosis. 

Teaching farm workers about breast health
Teaching farm workers about breast health
Receiving a donation of bras for patients
Receiving a donation of bras for patients

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Outreach to teach breast self-examination
Outreach to teach breast self-examination

October is Breast Cancer awareness month

Every year the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic works on full steam during October to raise awareness about breast cancer and this year is no different!

On October 4th Hlokomela had their annual General Meeting and open day. During this meeting school groups and tour groups visited the clinic. Talks on breast cancer as well as demonstrating self-breast examination was given to our guests!

October 5th was the Hlokomela Migrant Recreation day! During this day, the female farmworkers were shown how to do a self-breast examination and taught the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Each lady received a bookmark with pictures illustrating Self Breast Examination. The main purpose of the day is to encourage good relationships between South Africans and migrants and to share health information with migrants and where they can access health services.

October 11th was Hlokomela and Rotary Hoedspruit’s annual wellness day. On this day we offered free blood pressure testing, glucose testing, HIV testing, and malaria testing. Health education is given and nursing staff is available to answer health-related questions.

The Hlokomela Women’s Clinic also has a stall at this event. Talks, training, and education was given to women on breast and cervical cancer. Free physical breast exams were conducted and educational material was handed out.

The month is not over yet and many more events are planned on which we will tell you all about in our next report!

Patient Feedback

During the month of August, a 57-year-old lady *Lebo, came into the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, complaining of large painful masses under her arms and upper chest. Some of the masses were also in her breast tissue. Thankfully at the time, the ladies from the “Pink Drive” were in Tzaneen, Limpopo Province. They contacted me and offered free mammograms to a max of 5 patients for that one day that they spent in Tzaneen. I was able to send Lebo to Tzaneen for a mammogram. I received the report last week. Lebo’s results came back as a BIRADS 5, highly suspicious for Lymphoma. Lebo will be travelling to Johannesburg on 11 September 2019 to visit the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province for a consultation at the Breast Clinic. We wish her all the best.

Outreaches

On 21 August 2019 Hlokomela staff, staff from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Rotary Club Hoedspruit set out to a high school in a local village. We visited a group of Grade 12 female students. The girls learned about breast cancer, cervical cancer, self-breast examination, and safe sex. Topics like transactional sex were discussed in-depth and were followed by a fruitful Q&A session. Members from SAPS also gave a talk about women’s rights. Each girl received a goodie bag of body soap and sanitary products donated by SAPS and Hlokomela Women’s Clinic. We enjoyed this combined effort with Rotary and SAPS in reaching out during Women’s Month.

During the month of August and September, Hlokomela Tours ran an initiative to allow high school learners from another local high school to participate in tours of Hlokomela’s various projects and facilities.

During their stop at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, I did talks on breast -, cervical - and menstrual health. I also spoke about safe and responsible sex, transactional sex, exploitation, abuse and “my body, my rights”. The learners received the talks well and we had many interesting questions in the Q&A after the talk.

Our last outreach for the year will be in early November before the schools start with final exams.

Bravolution update

We are so proud to say that the Bravolution has become a booming success! We have received in excess of 100kg of bras since the start of the project in early 2018! The gratitude and joy that we see from our patients when they receive something that could be viewed as mundane by some, is just so satisfying and an absolute pleasure. It has been wonderful to see how women from all around the world stand together and support this project. We often find that women who enter the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic are in such a poor economic state that they often don’t even own a bra! Imagine the delight when they receive some!  

Help a girl out

What a positive reaction we have had! It only goes to show how willing the people of our community are to help! Thanks to the men and women of Hoedspruit we have received a large number of sanitary products during August. This allowed us to fill up our goody bags for outreach as well as give every patient in need a pack of pads. We would like to continue this drive and we are very excited and focusing hard on the re-usable/washable sanitary pad project.

Migrants Recreation Day
Migrants Recreation Day

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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!

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Organization Information

Hoedspruit Training Trust

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Hlokomela
Project Leader:
Christine du Preez
Hoedspruit, Limpopo South Africa
$72,008 raised of $90,000 goal
 
275 donations
$17,992 to go
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