Target demographics: They started leading weekend camps for Cape Town's HIV/AIDS affected adolescents. In collaboration with 4 like-minded organizations Fertile Ground's first Residential Camp was held in July 2005 just outside of Cape Town. With help from several of Jawaya's boys, 35 children from townships like Delft, Guguletu, Langa, Khayelitsha, Bellville South and Paarl who attended the clinic at Tygerberg Hospital participated in the camp. The camp was facilitated by Shiraaz Ismail and a team of volunteer teen counselors from Cape Town and California. The first residential camp was a great success. For both American and South African participants it was a time of sharing and exchanging ideas, igniting hope for the future and beginning a foundation for deconstructing the shame and stigma built around those living with HIV/AIDS. Since 2005, five more weekend camps have been created and a score of day outings, where HIV-infected youth learned life skills such as leadership, nutrition, swimming, and how to cook over an open fire. HIV and AIDS are discussed openly and frankly, helping the adolescents develop self-acceptance, de-stigmatizing their illness and creating hope for their future.· Sponsor an outing: Help give access to a special environment or even for Fertile Ground Camp participants to explore. A $10.00 donation will help to provide arts and crafts materials for two participants or provide two camp meals. $50.00 will cover the complete cost for one child to attend a week long residential camp.· Support two camps: The next camps are scheduled for February and July of 2012. One hundred children and their caregivers will attend the week long camps. The camps require $15,000.00 each paying for food, transportation, lodging and support services. All counselors, mentors and organizers are unpaid volunteers.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Children & Families Living with a Chronic Illness
Someone who had 3 hours of volunteer time could: Volunteer with Fertile Ground,Volunteers, Fund Rasiers, Grant Writing, Networking. Volunteer at our Clinics, Day Camps, Residential Camps. UPS assemble boxes too South Africa of clothing, school supplies, sleeping bags, tents, games, puzzles ,toys, first aid kits. Towels, tooth brushes, B&B or Resort complimentary toiletries.Volunteer with Fertile Ground, If you wish to be trained as a camp counselor you must be at least 16 years old and be enrolled in high school or a post secondary school institution. Counselors must commit to undergoing training, spending the entire week at the residential camp and participate in day outings once a month. Most importantly, you must enjoy working with children and be open to being exposed to the hardships surrounding poverty, illness and stigma. You must be able to focus on the spirit of the camp and engage children, youth, families and communities in ways that help to empower their lives.Please contact us if you are interested.www.ourfertileground.org
Geographic areas served: South Africa
Fertile Ground operates on the belief that every child counts, and that every child deserves a childhood rich with happy memories and positive experiences that they will carry with them throughout their adult life. Providing disenfranchised children with these opportunities, in conjunction with skills training gives them a chance to better manage their illness, reduce the impact of stress on immune function, increase their ability to cope with the difficult and often violent communities they come from, and ultimately stop the cycle of HIV disease transmission through treatment adherence and behaviour change. Children are our greatest treasure and can be the most powerful agents of change, as they grow into adulthood feeling secure, confident, and attentive to themselves in the world.
The Fertile Ground Camp in Cape Town brings people from diverse countries, institutions, communities and backgrounds together, creating an opportunity for participants to overcome differences and foster compassion, understanding and acceptance. At the residential camp, families can find a needed relief from the impact of stress, violence, dis-empowerment and stigma they experience in their communities. In South Africa, young girls and women are particularly vulnerable and significantly affected by domestic violence and abuse. There are insufficient resources and agencies whose efforts address these problems.
Residential camps offer respite from these difficult situations where families can spend five days together sharing knowledge & experiences, which offer release from isolation, despair and fear. The camps are an opportunity to get away from the hardships that youth, families and there communities live with on a daily basis and allow them to share experiences while learning about themselves and obtain a locus of control within their health challenges.
Day Camps offer participants the opportunity to explore sights and experiences such as; Trips to the aquarium, Robben Island, Bird World, hikes in the forest and on the mountain, which they cannot easily access in their everyday lives.
Significant themes that have emerged from the residential and day camps are as follows:
Youth being accepted without judgment
Families finding the freedom to express and disclose health status
Participants making new friends and becoming a part of a cross-cultural community
Maintaining daily medication schedules
Taking on personal responsibility and participating in healthy activities
Being part of a great camp family
Outreach to hospitals and clinics
The hospital outreach program includes activities in the waiting area of the outpatient clinics as well as bedside visits to children who are very ill. Under the direction of Robert Shea, the Program Director, trained counselors and students provide fun and engaging activities to children and caregivers to alleviate the anxiety children often experience on their hospital and clinic visits and help keep them engaged in care.
Through the monthly day outings and hospital and clinic outreach activities, we seek to keep camp participants connected to what they have learned about themselves, their communities, and how to take care of their illness through the camps, in addition to reinforcing and adding to their social support.
Dear Our Fertile Ground & Red Cross, The camp was very nice we worked according to the schedule and we co-operated. The Team work was very strong and I enjoyed working with Robert and Jawaya. The kids were amazing, being with Our Fertile Ground I had an amazing time.
Thandokazi Mcotshana Mother Dear Our Fertile Ground & Red Cross,
I write this to express how I felt at the camp. Well it felt good to be at Soetwater Camp Site. You have showed us love also shared your knowledge and skills to us as parents and our kids. We had fun for 3days. I loved the facilitators because they made us feel special while taking care of our children. I will never forget those days 27, 28, 29 of April, the obstacles course, plus playing more and more games; and especially the Talent Show.
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
Fertile Ground is a Non-Profit Organization founded in 2005 in the hope of educating, supporting
and empowering individuals and communities affected by HIV and AIDS. It aims to provide a safe
place in which children and their families are able to address pertinent issues, associated with the
disease and its surrounding stigma, without judgment or fear while simultaneously strengthening
community bonds and social support. Robert and Jawaya Shea, together with a host of volunteers have inspired individuals from all walks of life to take responsibility for their families and their communities and to assist in uplifting the lives of those less fortunate. They have played a pivotal role in organizing numerous residential and day camps as well as providing outreach programs for affected children, to major hospitals and clinics around the Cape Town district.
Their camps are well-structured, organized and exhibit an incredible amount of hard work and
dedication towards this cause. The programs created, incorporate the importance of developing life skills such as leadership and responsibility as well as more practical skills needed to cope in their everyday life such as ensuring a good nutrition, the importance of schooling and encouraging physical activity. The children are encouraged to set goals and achieve in life regardless of their health, physical or socio-economic status.
On visiting one of the campsites in January of this year, I was impressed by the manner in which the camp was run. Structured activities were provided for both the caregivers and the children, each created with the intention of 'bringing out' or developing certain skill sets from within. There were also more than enough volunteers present to assist with activities, preparing meals and to oversee the general well-being of the kids. Catered meals were provided and between activities, children were kept busy playing soccer, dancing and drumming. Robert and Jawaya made an incredible effort to ensure that the kids were constantly entertained and provided for. Their kind and giving nature is evident in the love and respect shown to them by the caregivers and children.
This organization is committed to the development and upliftment of youth in this country and their effort to positively effect change among these communities should be commended.
Dr Vashini Pillay MBCHB(UCT), DCH(SA),
23 Feruary 2011