It has just been incredible to see how GAPA provides a space to support various community members.
Yesterday a young man of 22 bravely walking into the centre to greet a room full of grandmothers working on projects. He had come to ask for support. He openly admitted that he was HIV+ and that he felt the community, including his extended family, were discriminating against him on this basis. The grandmothers and Vivienne did not beat around the bush, through discussions with him they established that his real concern was that the community did not want to forgive and accept him due to his past criminal activities.
A forum of open discussion was quickly established and he honestly spoke about his past and present challenges.
He had moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape when he was in his late teens. Upon arrival he realised that he would have to fend for himself despite the roof provided by his extended family. During this time he turn to crime as a means of support.
The way in which the grandmother handled this information was amazing, they were not accepting of the criminal activity but embraced him as a human being. An emotional session of singing a praying followed. Ayanda (project manager) says ‘ it looked like he felt great afterwards, he was thankful and was at ease when he left.’
The young man was advised to go to the YMCA, Khayelitsha, for further counselling services since they provide a space to meet with other young men who are trying to ‘get back on track’.
Vivienne attributes the sudden influx of people seeking assistance from GAPA to the local radio talk shows she has been invited to speak on. As an organisation we are gearing ourselves up to learn to support people from the community better.