People against poverty and Aids

Sne Masuku

The Ithuba Lempilo Development Foundation this week received a R20000 boost from South African Port Operations (Sapo).

The project, which was started in 2003 by the people of Maphephetheni, north of Durban, is aimed at empowering locals with skills.

The project has changed the lives of people of the area, which has been ravaged by a high incidence of teenage pregnancy, HIV, poverty and unemployment.

It has helped women, especially teenage mothers, to generate income by learning to sew, cook and bake.

Project director Thembisile Buthelezi, 43, said development was slow in the area.

"Many people are unemployed, they live in unhygienic households, housing development has not begun and many people are dying of Aids-related diseases," she said.

This was why the skills-development project was established, said Buthelezi - but success did not come easily.

"We first ran a home-based care project, which was not successful because there was not enough food for the sick," she said.

"We decided to empower the families of the sick with income-generating skills.

"We thought that would help put food on the table for their sick relatives so that the treatment they take would be effective."

Buthelezi said people with HIV were still stigmatised in the area.

Zama Msomi, one of the beneficiaries of the project, said it had taught her baking skills.

"I bake and sell cakes. I get orders for parties and functions in my area," said Msomi.

Buthelezi said the foundation would use the Sapo donation to buy sewing machines, with which sheets for hospitals would be sewn.