The 1000 Hills Tourism CTO recently hosted the front line staff of all the various tourism offices in and around Durban on an educational tour of the Valley of 1000 Hills area. This day out is an opportunity for us in the 1000 Hills area to really market the fantastic sites and attractions found in our area to the very people who are approached by tourists for advise on what to do while on their vacations.
Along with the tourism staff we also invited the fantastic travel blogger Cee of “CeecesTravel” fame to accompany us on our day out. This is what she had to say about her visit to the Hillcrest AIDS centre; just one of the sites we visited on the day.
Hillcrest AIDS Center
This past week on our wonderful adventure, exploring one of the 1000 Hills Tourism Routes, we made a stop at the Hillcrest AIDS Centre.
I don’t blame you if the first image in your head is a dark and dingy room, lit only by candle light as a group of ladies sit sewing AIDS ribbons together. Yet this is an assumption we need to end. When we arrived in Hillcrest at the AIDS Centre we parked and disembarked from our “venture van”. I noticed to the left of the entrance a rather hipster-looking gent; plaid shirt, hemp beanie and mustache to boot.
This should have been my first sign that we were about to learn something new.
Woza Moyo Shop
We made our way down the gravel driveway towards the “Merchants and Marvels Gallery and Shop” where we were met by the wonderful staff of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre and led on a short tour of the centre.
Hillcrest Aids Centre Respite Unit
Following our guide Thandie we were led through the property to the Respite Unit. To be fair the Hillcrest AIDS Centre has been in operation for 21 years, in this time they have seen people leave the Respite Unit to go home and be with their families. They have however also held the hands of people taking their last breathe.
It’s an emotional journey, and while Thandie was telling us about what happens inside the Respite Unit I could see the tears well up in her eyes.
The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Motto Response to AIDS and HIV is…
- Care – HIV Counselling and Testing on site, 24 Bed Respite Unit, ARV Readiness Training.
- Prevention – High School Educational programmes, Life Skills and Corporate & Community Workshops.
- Income Generation – Craft Store, Gardens of Hope, White Elephant Goods Store, Recycling Projects
- Poverty Alleviation – Chicken and Egg Project, Clothing Scheme, Grannie Support Groups, School Fee Fund.
The Motto Response guides the teams that work with those affected both directly and indirectly by HIV and AIDS.
The clothing scheme that runs from the AIDS Centre feeds between 7 – 10 people per famile. Those affected can join the clothing scheme by collection a bag of clothing donated by the local community. They then can take this bag of clothes into their own communities and the clothing sold to generate an income.
Gardens of Hope
After that, the purchase of future bags can be bought at R15 each. This not only creates an income for the family, but empowers the family by boosting confidence and creating a new skill set.
For those that are not able to donate clothing, the Hillcrest AIDS Centre hosts an amazing on-site nursery titled the Gardens of Hope. The nursery is cared for by the staff and site and plays a part in growing and supporting the local feeding schemes and community gardens. The gardens make a concerted effort to grow mainly indigenous plants and herbs.
Next up we met Francis. Francis explained about a vision he has about living in a world where nothing is thrown away. Raising a generation who recycle and conserve as a way of life, not something they need to be reminded to do.
Francis is grateful for all the donations of empty beer bottled and glassware of all kinds. He is very interested in possible approaching bars and taverns in the townships and asking them to keep their bottles for him. Once collected he would recycle them into drinking glasses and abstract light light fittings.
The glasses are a hit already and can be purchases from R15.00 a piece in a bulk 6-pack. Francis is a truly talented individual with a very important mission. I personally can’t wait to go back to Francis at the Upcycle Centre and buy one of his Vinyl Record cross over bags.
My entire lesson learnt was that we can all help each other. The Hillcrest AIDS Centre is not about handouts or sitting about wallowing in negative thoughts that these affected people face. Instead the aim and goal is to empower everyone.
Regardless of sex or age, affected directly by the HIV/AIDS virus or not, the team is here to uplift and encourage people into changing the stereotype and quite frankly the stigma around HIV and AIDS.
I am so thankful to Lloyd, Becky, Thandie, Paula and Jess… for re-educating the group and I!