Keiskamma exists to foster hope and health as well as pride and respect amongst a community that has been deeply affected by the AIDS pandemic. The programme covers an expansive rural community hit hard by the economic realities of the area of the Eastern Cape – providing support for many children who live in situations of drastic neglect and abuse through a number of essential and often life changing services.

Medical and holistic support to fight the impact of HIV/AIDS
Local medical officers were overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS reaching a crisis point.
Therefore the programme is medically focused – concentrating on the treatment of opportunistic infections, stabilising their patient’s health and providing education on the use of Anti Retro Viral drugs (ARV).
A direct outcome of this work is was the identification of orphaned and vulnerable children in the community – the centre provides support services such as AIDS treatment, educational initiatives, social care and art projects, using a holistic approach to fighting the impact problems of HIV/AIDS.

Working together to help more children
Since Starfish and Keiskamma Trust have worked together, the number of children reached has expanded from 108 in 2008 to over 600 today.
The project also provides shelter and food for vulnerable and orphaned children who do not have caregivers and the Keiskamma OVC Programme includes:

  • Support groups for adolescents on ARVs
  • Home support for young people
  • Camps for OVCs and HIV positive children
  • A children’s ARV clinic
  • A children’s inpatient centre where caregivers and children are educated about HIV

The partnership works by combating the stigma of AIDS.

Why this partnership works
It is essential that alongside the medical and support needs of AIDS victims, the stigma that follows the condition is also combated to prevent the cycle from continuing through the next generation. Through providing simple services to the beneficiaries, the most vulnerable are protected from the effects of stigma, the deep psychological scars prevented and a brighter future ensured.

Chwayita’s Story
This is the story of a child in the Lover’s Twist community, who received a uniform from Starfish.
“My name is Chwayita Bani . I am 19-years old. I am in grade 10 at St Charles Sojola Sec School. I am living in Lover’s Twist. I grew up with my grandmother as my mother gave birth to me when she was 14 years old. As my mother grew up she got married to somebody else that is my step father. Then I had to go and stay with my mother and my stepdad who was working in Johannesburg in the mine. My stepdad who was a breadwinner in the family got sick and he died. My mother had to work as a domestic worker and she earned R300.00 per month. We are family of three from my mother’s side. My mother got pregnant had a child got a social grant for the child and that also contributed was helpful to feed us. Then my mother got sick it was discovered that she was HIV positive. She tried going back to work but health prevented her. She couldn’t work anymore. I thought of not going to school as my mother was very sick but I knew that was not a good thing to do as she always motivated me to go to school. Eventually I decided to go to school. Every day I was confronted by my teachers about school uniform. But Starfish came to my rescue and again it was revealed to me that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I want to say to Starfish thank you very much.”

Helping more children to have a brighter future
This organisation has seen growth and development over the last 4 years. As the number of vulnerable children is highlighted and more people come forward for treatment, more resources are made available for the support of these children. With the dedication, strength and growing expertise of this team the future for this area of the Eastern Cape is positive.