Tapologo HIV/AIDS Programme was founded in 1997 when both Bishop Kevin Dowling and Sister Georgina Boswell were faced with the dramatic and dire situation being faced by the poorer communities with the advent of HIV and AIDS. “Tapologo” is a Setswana word, which translates to “a place of rest, of healing, of compassion, of hope”. This is the vision of Tapologo. People from diverse faiths and backgrounds unite around this vision. With dedication and compassion, they daily work to bring dignity, healing, hope and life to thousands of vulnerable children and adults.
Tapologo operates within the Bojanala District (Rustenburg) of the North West province in South Africa. This region is renowned for its platinum mining activities. Over the years this have resulted in an influx of migrant workers from neighbouring rural areas within South Africa and neighbouring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
Unfortunately, this area is rife with social, economic and political injustices such as high levels of unemployment, deep poverty, poor health systems, poor education systems and high levels of gender-based violence. The continuous arrival of people searching for job opportunities resulted in vast informal housing settlements with inappropriate infrastructure and systems.
Unemployment rates are critically high. Socio-economic situations are deteriorating due to the scaling down of the mining industry in the region. This results in high levels of criminal activities, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence. The number of child-headed households are increasing.
Through various programmes, structured around Wellness Clinics, Tapologo brings hope to these communities. These excellent programmes are supported by competent governance and an administration implementing outstanding monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Finances are also managed thoroughly with various audits per year as required by funders.
Intervention programmes have been developed to serve the communities and care for families:
- Wellness Clinics, strategically situated in communities, bring health services to the communities in partnership with the local Department of Health. HIV testing, Anti-retroviral Treatment and psycho-social support are complemented with primary health care, the management of chronic diseases and nutritional support.
- A community-based Outreach Programme provides an integrated approach to deliver multiple health services to the home and community. Outreach interventions include Home Based Care, HIV counselling and testing and TB Screening.
- Tapologo provides Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) according to the SA Department of Health protocol to the poorest of the poor in resource limited settings. The more than 1 400 patients receive regular consultations and counselling. “I ACT sessions”, Support Groups and Awareness Campaigns are held to support successful commencement and adherence to ART.
Left: Sr. B Rangoaga prepares to disperse Anti-retroviral medication at Tapologo’s Chaneng clinic. Right: Sr. M Tsame counselling a patient.
- An OVC child care programme for orphaned and vulnerable children has more than 950 registered children who are supported through a multi-faceted approach. Interventions include Psycho-social support, food plates, educational support, HIV education, health care and more. This programme improves the lives of children, through providing services to them directly and through capacitating others working on grassroots level.
Above: Sr. M Kaoroba taking a patients’ blood for further laboratory services.
- The Psycho-Social Support Interventions strengthens all above mentioned services. The number of people reached through these interventions are increased through closed and open Support Groups. Groups also deal with education and awareness. These services are provided by Social Workers.Tapologo’s vital roleThese intervention programmes form a support structure in the community and provide a much needed safety net for vulnerable people. Tapologo serves in areas where the influx of thousands of migrant mine workers resulted in the collapse of traditional community structures and values. In the many informal settlements HIV, TB, other illnesses and poverty are widespread.The district where Tapologo serves experiences medical skills and resource limitations. Hospitals are overloaded and clinics overburdened. HIV prevalence is still increasing accompanied by an increase in TB and MDR TB. In a situation where the burden of disease continually increases, Tapologo is positioned and skilled to bring even more positive change – if enough support for Tapologo can be mobilised.
Above: Tapologo ensures that patients also receive much needed food for patients on medication.
When the reality of COVID-19 emerged in South Africa, Tapologo had to shift its focus in the community to the distribution of information and educational material, provision of door-to-door screenings and referrals for testing. Their community workers encountered much misinformation, disinformation and rumours about the epidemic that created confusion and distrust. Tapologo therefore had to roll out special awareness campaigns.
Tapologo increased their regular nutritional support to also support community members with meal supplements and food plates.
The lockdown and additional activities that resulted from the COVID-19 epidemic disrupted Tapologo’s programmes, especially the HIV testing and support groups programmes. These disruptions lead to a decrease of funding income.
Through the years Tapologo has received many awards and accreditations for the excellent work in the community as well as the professional level of management, monitoring and evaluation.
Tapologo’s past and present achievements have proven the organisation’s provision of quality care and the effectiveness and efficiency of its models. Tapologo has demonstrated that the “90-90-90” targets are reachable! (“90-90-90” is the ambitious targets: By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.)
Tapologo plays a leading role in the Rustenburg HIV and AIDS Action Plan.
Tapologo’s primary beneficiaries are:
- Those living with HIV and AIDS and terminal illnesses
- Orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs)
The secondary beneficiaries are:
- The families of those living with HIV and AIDS
- The guardians and those that are sheltering/supporting OVCs
- The communities who are being affected by HIV and AIDS
Further benefits of the Tapologo Programme to the community include:
- Employment opportunities as well as training for Home Caregivers
- Trainings and incentives for professional and semi-professional staff.
- Cooperation with Departments of Health and Social Development
- Strengthening of other NGO’s, CBO’s and individuals through partnerships
- Strengthening of private sector initiatives through partnerships.
Furthermore, Tapologo practices “care for the caregiver” and actively promotes staff health and welfare within the organisation. Staff are protected from workplace hazards and a medical surveillance plan is in place for at-risk staff.
Tapologo acknowledges the importance of collaboration and partnerships in pursuing their objectives. Tapologo works together with the Department of Health (DoH). They provide services in rural and informal areas which are not covered or are partially covered by the DoH. This is a good example of how health care partnering and collaborating has improved regional health care standards.
Tapologo further engages a broad base of partners and donors within their confines. They endeavour to have multiple donors to reduce the risks around dependency on a single donor and to engage multiple partner participation.
Even though the excellent services of Tapologo receives regular praise, the broad spectrum of funders and financial supporters of Tapologo have declined since the international economic recession of 2007-2008. This was followed by the labour problems in the mining industry. As a result, the mining industry has scaled down while the socio-economic and health situation in the communities deteriorated. On top of this, the effects and repercussions of the current global recession and impact of COVID-19 are being felt strongly in this region. For the communities this resulted in less opportunities to work and for Tapologo it resulted in budget constraints.
In a time when the services of Tapologo became even more urgent, support for Tapologo has decrease!
In short: Tapologo’s need for more support reflects the crises in the community where the need for health services has increased while the over-all provision and support of such services has diminished.
For recent information about Tapologo, visit their Facebook page.