|A Banake field worker talks to a family in Khayelitsha. Photo by Nicole Safker.|
Residents of Khayelitsha worry about a neighbour’s daughter who is only 13 but does not go to school because she cannot afford transport. She was raped by an old man. Her mother does not care and drinks a lot, swears at her about the rape and hits her. The child wants to go to school, so she went to stay in a neighbour’s home. The neighbour is also struggling and cannot afford the transport and school fees. – Banake Initiative Field Worker Diary
This is only one of many heart-breaking stories from the notes of field workers involved in an effort to improve communication among families affected by HIV/AIDS and encourage them to use HIV prevention services in Khayelitsha, the largest township of Cape Town, South Africa. The notes reveal shocking callousness and indifference on the part of township residents, but also compassion, like the neighbor who gave shelter to the 13-year-old girl.
The Banake Initiative was started in 2009 by DKT South Africa, an affiliate of DKT International, whose normal approach is focused on getting affordable health products and services to low-income people through the private sector. However, DKT decided that a different approach was required in South Africa, where HIV prevalence of people 15-49 has been stuck at around 17% since 2003 (the fourth highest rate in the world) despite years of work by many well-financed programs and the excellent availability of condoms (In November 2012, UNAIDS announced that the rate of new infections in South Africa had been reduced by 41% between 2001 and 2011).