Community motivation and wellbeing were at the heart of the Blackburn Community iThuba Centre’s World Aids Day programme which welcomed uplifting guest speakers, hosted meaningful workshops and celebrated healthy living at the event on Saturday, 2 December.
Located within the Blackburn Village community, north of Durban. the Community iThuba Centre was established this year as a partnership structure with eThekwini Municipality, Tongaat Hulett and the Blackburn community to meet the immediate needs of the residents.
There are more than 4 500 people residing in the informal settlement of Blackburn Village, with few basic amenities, about 65 percent unemployment rate and few economic opportunities nearby,” explained Bongani Gumede, Executive Head, Community and Public, Private Partnerships Tongaat Hulett Property.
He said that the World Aids Day programme was part of a comprehensive neighbourhood “SHE” programme to make the village the safest and cleanest informal settlement in the country.
Ward Councillor Heinz de Boer praised the collaborative efforts of Tongaat Hulett, eThekwini and the community. saying that initiatives such as iThuba were fundamental in creating sustainable solutions to economic and social ills.
“The efforts being made here are beyond measure and programmes such as the one organised on World Aids Day work so well on so many levels they bring the community together in a fun environment, create awareness about the importance of health and create a platform for positive engagement with other stakeholders,” said De Boer.
Bongani Gumede and Councillor Pearl Luthuli welcomed the community, followed by a number of motivational speakers who took to the stage at the World Aids Day event.
The talks were interspersed with a host of entertainment including singing, dancing, drama performances, a pledge photo booth, workshops, live activations and fun activities for the young ones in the Kids’ Corner.
A mobile clinic was onsite for HIV/Aids testing, counseling on how to live a healthy life with HIV/Aids and wellness screenings. The entire event was made more interactive with the broadcast onto the Vodacom Play Platform which allowed the community to stream videos from the day onto this innovative platform.
Neliswa Nokwanda, the iThuba Centre Administrator and emerging Precinct Administrator, is particularly enthusiastic about the overall programmes which the partnership will roll out. As a resident of Blackburn Village, she stated that the programmes are “very relevant to the community who has suffered a lot. Already community members have identified particular programmes that they wish to be involved with either because they have suffered or because they wish to learn more about a particular issue.
“What will make this partnership even more successful is the fact that candidates for skills development and job linkages are from the area and job opportunities are in close proximity as development activity continues in the surrounding region.” Nokwanda herself walks to work as she is in close proximity.