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The Bulungula Incubator had a terrific week-long visit from journalists Mia and Darren of the Mail & Guardian and Voice of America radio broadcast.  Throughout the week Mia and Darren talked with a variety of people in Xhora Mouth including sub headman, shebeen owners, and traditional healers.  Armed with their voice recorder and camera, the duo got loads of material to use for their stories.

Mia and Darren with our local traditional healer Nozolile, one of many people they interviewed during their stay in the village. Mia has been writing for the Mail & Guardian since June 2011 and will take the position of M&G Health editor from January 2013. Darren has been working with the Voice of America since early 2007.

To get a true sense of what locals go through to receive healthcare, Sam took them on the 3 hour trek to Nkanya Clinic. Soon after starting their expedition they were delighted to be joined by a pair of young villagers making the same journey.

Along with an insightful trip to the local clinic, Darren and Mia were able to attend our monthly Health Day and as luck would have it, it turned out to be one of our best health days ever!  Our new strategy for our Health Days is to incorporate guest speakers that are able to address HIV from different perspectives, hopefully raising the comfort level of openly discussing HIV awareness in the villages.  The guest speakers we were looking for include: a person living with HIV/AIDS, a traditional healer, and a BI community care worker for that respective village.  We managed to find a guest speaker that was all three!  Our very own community care worker, Veliswa, has known she is HIV positive since 2008.  She is very open about her status and has a strong, determined attitude about combating stigmatism associated with HIV/AIDS.  As a traditional healer in training, she is a known and respected member of her community.  We invited her to participate in our health event and she was happy to oblige.

Veliswa is open about her HIV positive status, serves as a Community Care Worker, and is a traditional healer in training. As a healthy young woman living with HIV, she understands the importance of taking ARVs.

After giving a riveting speech about her experiences, she proceeded to address each faction of the community directly: “this is for you women…this is for you men…this is for the youth.”  At the end everyone was cheering and it was obvious her message had gotten through.

As Darren snaps photo after photo, Veliswa concludes by stressing the importance of using condoms for protection and encouraging everyone to know their status by getting tested.

Darren and Mia got an exclusive interview with the new star of our Health Days. Nomzingisi, as dependable as always, provided translations.

Mia and Darren chat away with some of the villagers in line to get tested. What a great opportunity for their visit! Lindiwe, our new Education Project Manager, assists with translations.

Overall everything worked out better than expected.  The weather was unbelievably cooperative and we managed to meet and speak with every person the journalists were interested in.  Even Darren and Mia were amazed at how perfect the week unfolded: “in 20 years of being a journalist I’ve never had a story where so many things kept going right!”

It was a busy week for Mia and Darren but they were both thrilled at how well everything turned out. We can’t wait to read their stories!

We are so happy we had the chance to host Mia and Darren and show them around the village.  Keep your eyes out for their articles in the Health Section of the Mail & Guardian due to be published in the coming months.  Also keep your ears open for their stories to be featured on Voice of America!

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