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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

Game for the World in the Grahamstown District

We arrived in Peddie, in the Eastern Cape in the early evening to meet  Ms. Wezeka Matomela, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Grahamstown District HIV/AIDS coordinator.  Wezeka introduced us to a group of talented women of all ages:  Nonkosi  Mkiva, Black Methodist Consultation Secretary; Catherine Mvubu, Circuit Steward; Nosphiwo Matinise, Secretary of the Women’s Guild and Sunday school teacher; and  Angelina Figlan, Women’s Manyano Chairwoman.

We played the game for an hour, with lots of laughs and insightful comments.  The group members were lively and well-spoken. They plan to use the game in workshops and retreats. Alan took photos of the group, church and community shown below.

The District’s HIV/AIDS programs include caring for people infected and affected by HIV. It has had a voluntary counseling and testing program since 2006. In 2012, they launched an Orphan and Vulnerable Children day and presently have 20 children in the program.

Children are the innocent victims of HIV and AIDS. I was moved by the following quote from the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information and Dissemination Service:

“Turning a blind eye is a response mechanism we all do consciously or unconsciously to difficult issues. Too often we have seen traumatized children behave as if they or their reality do not exist and too often through our own behavior, we support this view.

“Our own humanity is in question and we need to face up to the realities affecting orphans and vulnerable children. We are living in a time of profound contrast. While overall growth and development is improving the lives of millions, the self- destructive greed of a few undermines whole economies. While many of us enjoy incredible scientific progress, a substantial part of the global population lives in medieval squalor. Life expectancy is increasing for most of the world, but in Africa we continue to bury our children long before they are able to reach self- actualization.

“We have to take a look at ourselves and honestly ask how much are we, our communities, and our governments contributing toward the poverty, suffering, pain, loneliness and disease affecting vulnerable children and orphans. Borrowing from Khalil Gibran.. ‘our children are not our children, but the sons and daughters of life’s longing for life’. We have a duty to provide the shoulders for all children to stand on so that they can exceed our horizon and reach beyond our reach. How we treat these most vulnerable members of society defines our humanity.”

Please help us make a difference in the lives of children by supporting Game for the World in whatever way is possible and meaningful for you.

 

February 3, 2013

Game for the World and Youth in the Queenstown District, South Africa

After spending the night in King Williams Town, we drove through mist and on winding roads to the small town of Butterworth to meet with Rev Mthi, the youth coordinator for the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Queenstown District.

The vision of the MCSA’s Queenstown District is to be a place that provides refuge and relief, that makes a difference and adds value to the lives of its people. It strives to be a center of healing and transformation for its communities.

Rev  Mthi had travelled earlier that day to Butterworth  to hold a strategic planning session with his committee. I knew right away that he had a sense of humor when he introduced his secretary, Msimelelo Qumntu as the Reverend, so our meeting started out with lots of laughter. I was honored that he took time from his first strategic planning session to meet with Alan and me and to play Game for the World.

Rev Mthi and Msimelelo told us many people don’t want to know their HIV status.  “They don’t know the power of getting tested and managing their virus.”  The District plans to have HIV testing at every youth gathering they have this year, along with testing for other health issues such as blood pressure and diabetes, so that there is no stigma around the HIV testing.

Game for the World enables people talk about the value and importance of being tested, and so we hope it will make a difference in the Queenstown District. The District plans to use it at their Youth Synod on March 15th and at their Sport Weekend, April 26th – 28th.

Show in the photo along with Anne  from left to right are Msimelelo, Rev Mthi,  Anelisa Jaji, Assistant Secretary and  Mduduzi Mzanywa,Executive Member. We’ve also included a photo of Butterworth, the town where we met.

Rev Mthi and group good Butterworth street

February 3, 2013

Game for the World: The Adventure Continues in South Africa!

Zweli Monoametsi and AnneDriving a compact rental car from Cape Town to Johannesburg was an adventure for Alan and me. We’d been warned to be careful about speeding; South African speeding fines can be expensive. Distracted by gorgeous coastal scenery along the Garden Route in the Western Cape Province, I wasn’t paying attention to the speed limits and am sure that a flash went off, documenting my speed of 80 km per hour in a 60 km zone. It takes about two months to get the speeding fine, so time will tell!

We decided that it would be fun and interesting to stay in B&B’s and we were so glad that we did – it was one of the highlights of our trip, meeting interesting people with beautiful properties. Our first night was spent in the beautiful town of Knysna. The next night was spent in Jeffery’s Bay, after which we drove to Port Elizabeth, where we were excited to meet Zwili Stephen Mathiti, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa’s Grahamstown District Mission Convener and Rev. Kamogelo Monoametsi, the District Youth Coordinator. We were honored that our meeting was arranged by Bishop Losaba, who is passionate about HIV/AIDS education. With no GPS, we traversed the city of Port Elizabeth twice, trying to find our meeting place. We’re deeply grateful to Zweli for having the patience to direct us by phone and then get in his car to show us the way to our meeting place. We’re also grateful to Rev. Monoametsi who drove all the way from Port Alfred with his young son to meet with us!

The Grahamstown District falls within one of the poorest provinces in South Africa, the Eastern Cape. It is an area with incredible natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage. Most of the Church’s work lies within the rural communities. The challenges in the District include alleviating poverty, HIV issues, unemployment, child-headed households and accompanying social issues. The Church’s ministery includes home-based care, soup kitchens, vegetable gardens, havens for abandoned babies, skills development projects and a church school, Kingswood College in Grahamstown.

We played Game for the World with Zweli and Kamogelo. Kamogelo said that he believed that the Game will be good for opening up the conversation about HIV with young people.

January 27, 2013

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