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Archives – February, 2013

Game for the World Played at Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Youth Conference

It was an honor to be invited by Rev Luxolo Mantini to present a workshop on Game for the World at the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Youth Ministries Connexional Conference, held in Magalies Retreat, 100km from Johannesburg. As we drove up a dirt road to the conference, we saw a graceful giraffe – our first sign of wildlife in South Africa!  The Retreat is set in a game reserve, right against the Magliesburg mountains.

It was great to reconnect with some of the people we had met on our road trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg: Rev Kamogelo Monoametsi from the Grahamstown District, Msimelo Qumntu and Annelisa Jaji from the Queenstown District and Rev Mbuso Kubone from Natal West. A lovely surprise was seeing Moagi Sekejewane, the former Connexional youth coordinator.  Everyone made us feel immediately welcome, with lots of laughs and photographs.

We had a lively session with the youth ministry team; 42 of them played the game at 7 tables. It was an effective way for the group to talk deeply about HIV/AIDS in a safe environment, within minutes of starting to play the game. We donated 8 copies of the game to each district youth coordinator, and wish we had copies for each participant, as everyone wanted to know how they could have one.

We told the group that it isn’t sustainable to bring the games over from the U.S., and that ideally, they should be made in South Africa, if the church can find a sponsor or some funding to produce them locally.

We are very grateful to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund which provided a grant for us to supply Game for the World to Youth Coordinators and HIV/AIDS Coordinators with the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. The Fund supports education, prevention and care programs for people living with HIV and AIDS around the world. It currently supports over 200 HIV/AIDS church oriented and Christ- centered ministries in 37 countries, including the United States.

February 17, 2013

Game for the World in South Africa’s Central District

We met Rev Vuyelwa Legwale at her church, Bryanston Methodist in Johannesburg. Vuyelwa is the HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Central District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Her district is located in 3 provinces: Gauteng, Northwest and the Northern Cape. It serves the affluent and the poor in the cities, suburbia, rural and informal settlements. Its ministry ranges from pre-schools, feeding schemes, prison programs, assistance to refugees and unaccompanied minors, literacy and skills development programs.

Vuyelwa’s church initiated counseling courses and support groups in Diepsloot, an informal settlement north of Johannesburg, where unemployment and poverty are rife.  Many people in Diepsloot live in shacks assembled from scrap metal, wood, plastic and cardboard. Some families lack access to basic services such as running water, sewage and rubbish removal. Bryanston Methodist is making a difference in the lives of Diepsloot residents impacted by HIV/AIDS by providing food parcels, home-based care and assistance with medical referrals and transport.

The Methodist Church is active in community outreach in many areas, including Pimville, Soweto and in Meadowlands, where youth groups are involved in care-giving and orphan support.

Vuyelwa played Game for the World with Alan and me and answered the question “What animal do you think HIV/AIDS would be if it were an animal?” with an unforgettable reply. She said it would be a dog, “because it can either scare and bite you, or it can be your friend. We can be scared by it and run away, not wanting to know our status and not taking medication, or we can make it our friend and live a long life by knowing our status and taking care of our health.”

Vuyelwa believes young people remember what they learn through games and sees the Game being used with youth groups in her district.

Vuyelwa Legwale and Anne

 

February 17, 2013

Game for the World in Alberton, South Africa

Alan and I drove to the city of Alberton, a short drive south of Johannesburg to meet Dr. Vernon Van Wyk, HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Highveld and Swaziland District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.  It’s a diverse district, rich in perspectives and approaches. Education is high on its agenda, with 47 schools, mostly in Swaziland. AMCARE is one of its flagship programs. There are four other registered HIV/AIDS projects in the District.

We met Vernon and his staff on the AMCARE premises. AMCARE was established by the Alberton Methodist Church as a community outreach program, with 8 social workers and 30 home-based care-givers.   AMCARE feeds approximately 3,000 people a week.  It feeds and nurses over 350 HIV & AIDS patients, and cares for some 350 orphans and child-headed families.  The HIV Voluntary Counseling, Testing and Wellness Clinic has 2 registered nurses and 3 full-time counselors and locum doctors. Twice a week, AMCARE supplies about 400 litres of soup and 800 loaves of bread to 5 clinics and 240 children at 2 schools. Facilities also include a fully equipped training center, which accommodates up to 60 people and 3 large vegetable gardens to provide patients with fresh vegetables in food parcels. AMCARE also has a Victim Empowerment Shelter in Alberton which houses up to 20 abused women and children, and provides social work and early childhood development services.

We had the privilege of meeting and playing Game for the World with four of AMCARE’s Social Work staff, who said that they could see the Game being used by their Victim Empowerment program, their adult support groups, youth, care- givers and staff.

Vernon is also the Warden of the Methodist Order of Deacons and oversees the training of deacons throughout the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. He says that deacons are service-oriented and build bridges between churches and communities. Vernon plans to use the Game in a week-long training program for deacons in April.

Vernon and his staff are shown below, along with AMCARE’s facilities.

February 16, 2013

Game for the World in the Limpopo District, South Africa

Alan and I had an adventure driving to eMalahleni to meet with Lerato Nombula, HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Limpopo District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. It took us 40 minutes just to get on the right highway and then we depended on the kindness of strangers and Lerato’s patience to guide us to the church where we met her. We’re constantly impressed with the courtesy and helpfulness of South Africans!

Emalaheni is 150 km east of Johannesburg in a coal mining district. The Limpopo District is a network of 40 circuits, including five in Botswana. Pretoria is the southern urban hub, with the town of Maun in Botswana on its northern side. It’s the only district that includes communities that represent all  11 official languages in South Africa.

With an honors degree in Psychology, Lerato is passionate about making a difference in her community. She’s a minister’s wife and is experienced in counseling and motivational speaking. She’s worked with children from broken homes and has given HIV/AIDS talks to children who are awaiting trial for serious crimes. Lerato believes ministers’ wives are key people for promoting HIV/AIDS education.

Lerato is also the provincial coordinator for the Global Fund projects in Mpumalanga province. These projects provide care and support to families which are affected by AIDS, TB and Malaria.  She has been an HIV/AIDS coordinator with the MCSA for a year and has organized workshops on HIV and HIV testing at churches.  Lerato says “Even those who have knowledge of HIV need a safe environment to talk about it.”   She believes the game could provide a safe vehicle for youth to talk about HIV.

February 15, 2013

Game for the World and Youth in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Rev Luxolo Mantini serves five churches and heads up the youth coordinators for the 12 districts of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA).  As the Connexional Youth Coordinator, he is responsible for youth ministry in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia.

Alan and I drove out to meet with him in Kwa Thema, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Kwa Thema is near the city of Springs, where Alan’s mother once lived and where we visited regularly when we lived in Johannesburg over 20 years ago. The drive out brought back many memories, though the area has grown tremendously since we lived in South Africa.

Having met three of his youth coordinators on our trip from Cape  Town to Johannesburg, I was eager to meet Rev Mantini.  His youth coordinators seem to have a great sense of fun and bring it to their ministry. Rev Mantini also has a twinkle in his eye and made us feel welcome immediately in his home.

Rev Mantini says there is enormous work to be done with youth ministry in Southern Africa. He believes the only way we can change the tide of HIV/AIDS devastation in Southern Africa is to reach its youth. The Kwa Thema area has been hard hit by unemployment caused by mines closing down. Unemployed miners have sought comfort in drinking and then having had unprotected sex, have become infected with HIV. “Most of the people I bury had AIDS. It’s rare to have families brave enough to say it’s AIDS, most of the time they say it’s TB or meningitis. People don’t want to talk about it”, says Rev Mantini.

He believes that Game for the World will help people feel safe to talk about HIV and to learn about ways in which their attitudes and beliefs about HIV can shape their future and the quality of their lives.

We were honored to be invited by Rev Mantini to hold a workshop on Game for the World at a  conference for all the MCSA youth ministry people.  The Game received great feedback from those attending the session.

Shown below are Rev Mantini and his church.

 

February 15, 2013

Game for the World in Swaziland

Mbongeni Magugla’s passion is people. He has a generous heart and has reached out to help people since he was a young boy. I met him two years ago at a Methodist Church of Southern Africa conference for HIV/AIDS and Mission Coordinators.  I remembered his enthusiasm and his networking abilities and was excited about reconnecting with him in the Church’s Johannesburg offices.

Based in Swaziland, where the HIV infection rate is the highest in the world at 26%, Mbongeni is the youth HIV/AIDS coordinator for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. This ministry includes HIV prevention and care support. Mbongeni looks at what youth want and how the Church can tap into it. Mbongeni says that the Church’s challenge is meeting the needs of all race groups.

“Young people switch off when you say you want to talk about HIV”, says Mbongeni. “We need a new approach. Games engage young people. They want to know what’s in it for them. They want to be mentors and make a difference in their community.”

Mbongeni believes in training champions of initiatives and so it makes sense to train youth leaders in using Game for the World so that they can train their peers. “It would also be good to train teachers. The Church has schools in Swaziland and Lesotho, mainly in rural areas. We could create Game for the World teams.”

We’re excited about this approach.  My dream is for Game for the World to be used in schools around the world.

 

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February 11, 2013

Game for the World in Pietermartizburg

Alan and I drove from Margate, to Ixopo, to Umlazi and then to Pietermartizburg for our third meeting of the day with Sindi Majola, HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Natal West District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.

Sindi has a degree in nursing education and has taught nursing for the past 14 years. She became an HIV/AIDS coordinator in 2005 because she didn’t want people to be scared about HIV. She says death was being preached and people were frightened. She believes that everyone is one of God’s children and that we can’t run away from people with HIV.

According to Sindi, South Africa’s mortality rate for HIV/AIDS is down, but the transmission rate is up; there are long line-ups for antiretroviral drugs. She says that people are in denial and are not telling their partners their HIV status. She believes South Africans need to change their attitudes and behavior. “People are afraid to disclose their status because of discrimination. Wives aren’t free to tell their husbands they have HIV because their husbands will blame them, even though it’s their husbands who have infected them. “

Sindi is looking forward to using Game for the World in workshops and with her coordinators.Sindi and Anne

 

February 10, 2013

Game for the World in Umlazi, South Africa

When Milicent Phewa discovered that her local church in Umlazi, a township near Durban in South Africa’s province of KwaZulu-Natal, did not have an HIV/AIDS community support program, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Stigma and discrimination where Phewa lives have prevented many people from talking openly about their status, making it easy for community leaders to ignore the problem. Milicent took a course to learn how to develop an HIV/AIDS program and became the HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Natal Coastal District.  She believes that churches are ideal vehicles for providing HIV/AIDS programs because of the influence they have in their communities.

Milicent says that the Natal  Coastal district is large, stretching from Mozambique to just south of Durban. It’s challenging to visit all the rural areas. The district has many projects, including soup kitchens, orphanages, community gardens and home-based caregiving for people with HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Milicent and her coordinators raise awareness about HIV/AIDS through marches on World AIDS Day,  providing workshops and voluntary testing and counseling. She plans to use Game for the World with youth groups to open up the conversation around HIV. Milicent is shown below with Anne and her church colleagues.

 

 

 

February 9, 2013

Game for the World in Ixopo, South Africa

When I called Rev Mbuso Kubone to say that we were on a terrible road and we were going to be late, he laughed and said, “Now you are seeing the real South Africa!” Alan and I were bumping down 23 km of non-existent road on the way to Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal. We were starting to worry; we’d  lost our way and had a flat tire the day before, and had no spare.  The road finally improved and we made it to Rev Kubone’s home and the site of his new church, which is under construction.

Rev Mbuso Kubone is the youth coordinator for the Natal West District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. He lives in Ixopo, the main center of the southern midlands. It’s most famously described by Alan Paton in the opening lines of Cry, the Beloved Country: “There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.” KwaZulu-Natal is called the garden province and is the home to the Zulu nation. Located in the southeast of South Africa, it borders three countries: Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

We spent two hours with Mbuso, playing Game for the World and talking about the challenges his district faces. He says that young people are getting infected with HIV because they don’t want to use condoms, get tested or go to the doctor. “Some families shun family members with HIV,  they see them as cursed. HIV/AIDS has created tremendous tension in families, especially couples.”

Mbuso plans to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS by sharing Game for the World with his Sunday school teachers and at his district’s upcoming youth synod in March.  He is shown below with Anne and on the construction site of his church.

 

 

February 5, 2013

Game for the World in the Clarkebury District, South Africa

Alan and I drove through the mist on roads under construction from Butterworth to Mthatha to meet  Mrs. Ncumisa Faku, the HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Clarkebury District. The reason for the success of this district is the involvement and interaction of the laity. The District has a bursary and an HIV/AIDS fund for the disadvantaged in the community. The District has 52 circuits and is divided into four regions; each circuit has a coordinator who reports to a regional coordinator who in turn reports to Mrs. Faku.

Many of South Africa’s black leaders come from the Mthatha area, including Nelson Mandela, who still visits his home village of Qunu.  Mthatha is the home of one of the Nelson Mandela museums, which exhibits key aspects of Mandela’s life.

Alan and I are grateful to all of the coordinators we met, who met us with short notice. Mrs. Faku was no exception.   A minister’s wife and a retired nurse, Mrs. Faku has been the District’s HIV/AIDS coordinator for ten years.  Her District and the Grahamstown District held a workshop on how the Church could handle HIV/AIDS.

Mrs. Faku, shown below, plans to use Game for the World with people who are “infected and affected by HIV.” She  also  plans to use it with her women’s prayer group.

Mrs Faku (1)

February 5, 2013

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