Kayamandi and Charlie Johnson
Charlie Johnson was successfully living with HIV in Long Beach, and expressed a strong desire to invest himself in the lives of others living with HIV in South Africa. Living Hope Clinical Foundation was able to help establish and support Charlie to invest his skills as a treatment advocate in Kayamandi, Western Cape, South Africa.
Kayamandi and the neighboring township of Khayelitcha (pictured) were typical of African communities where up to one out of every 4 adults were infected with HIV.
This was the reality of Kayamandi and its surrounding communities in 2003 when Living Hope Clinical Foundation first became involved. Funeral every day with people dying of AIDS was the norm.
Charlie Johnson mobilized and trained both HIV positive and HIV negative members of the community to provide treatment support to those living with HIV in Kayamandi. HIV/AIDS is still highly stigmatized in Kayamandi. People avoid learning their status and once they know, they find it very hard to disclose to others.
Charlie lived in the community and spent several years working with support groups and advocating with the local medical community for expanded and improved HIV services.
Many of the individuals Charlie trained became pillars in the community for promoting HIV treatment adherence, educating the community about prevention and treatment, and addressing issues surrounding stigma. LHCF supported several of these community treatment advocates over several years, and promoted advanced training for various cadres of health care providers.
LHCF supported Pro-chorus which established income generating opportunities for people in the community living with HIV and supported additional community treatment advocates.
Patrick was dying of TB and HIV when he met Charlie Johnson. He was without resources and without hope. Charlie partnered with Patrick’s mother and family to commit to a different outcome for Patrick’s life. Charlie literally carried him to the local hospital, advocated persistently for quality care, and challenged Patrick and the system to live with purpose.
Patrick survived AIDS and TB and began his recovery
Patrick transitioned from a care receiver to a care giver and partnered with Charlie in Kayamandi supporting people living with HIV.
Kayamandi had challenges that contributed to HIV such as drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, and gender based violence. Charlie worked with multiple groups addressing these challenges and focused on shifting community norms.
Violent crime was a common occurrence and the unexpected was a normal part of life.
Kayamandi Township is a maze of wood and tin shacks in extreme poverty and congestion that facilitate the spread of infectious diseases like HIV, TB, and sexually transmitted diseases.
These shacks are housing units often with no toilet facilities or running water, and lacking provision for privacy and against the heat and cold. In addition, residents of Kayamandi have limited access to clean water and sanitation while illiteracy levels and unemployment rates are high. These conditions are ideal for the proliferation of health related problems, including HIV/AIDS which has a prevalence of 20% in this area.
Families with single or absent parents where common and care for AIDS orphans was a daily challenge.
The majority of the children living in Kayamandi are subject to poverty, hunger/malnutrition and insufficient education opportunities.
Many parents are illiterate while a lot of families lack a father figure. HIV/AIDS is a stark reality that has decimated families.