The Topsy Foundation partners with rural communities, empowering people infected with, and affected by HIV and AIDS, through medical care, social support and skills development.
Since the disease has an impact in every area of life, the work of the Topsy Foundation seeks to intervene commensurately. The Topsy Foundation partners with communities in and around the crossroads of the Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng provinces. Central to the Topsy Foundation is the Topsy Sanctuary; Rufford House situated in Grootvlei, Mpumalanga. Most of the sanctuary houses Topsy’s Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care Clinic Programme (CHACC) started in 2007 following the dire need for antiretroviral therapy (ARV’s) to be made available to the local communities. However Topsy’s other projects within CHACC include ongoing support and care for the patients, the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Project, post-exposure prophylaxis to staff and community members exposed to HIV, and Cervical Screening.
Other rooms in Rufford House accommodate theSkills Training Programme. Training and Skills Development are an important component of working with HIV and AIDS, since it is a disease, which is exacerbated by poverty. When people have skills, they are more likely to find or create work, which provides an income, and better enables households to deal with poverty. Topsy currently has two thriving projects called the Shukushukuma Beadwork Project and the Tinyiko Sewing Project – the items of which are stocked in many local outlets as well as several international outlets.
As Topsy operates in five different communities, it is extremely important to have people who can go out and offer relief; this involves basic medical care, showing patients how to take medication, keeping an eye on patients who are attending the clinic and very importantly promoting Topsy’s name so that everybody can have the chance to be well and healthy. These are Topsy’s “field-workers” and they work under the Community Outreach Programme. In the case of a serious problem the field-worker will refer the case to one of Topsy’s medical nurses.
When adults who have been part of the Topsy Home-Based Care Project pass away, their children are placed with family members with the assistance of the government. These family members very often have the best intentions but unfortunately are unable to care for orphans in an already economically stretched household. Faced with this problem, Topsy started the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project. The combined monthly income must be less than R710 per child in order to ensure that the only the neediest receive this support. The Social workers will help them in getting the relevant documentation for the government and make weekly visits to assess the needs of the families. The children will in turn receive medical care, assistance with education and then food packs. These families are required to supplement their food packs by partaking in our Vegetable Gardening Project.
This “web of intervention” through the interrelated programmes is bringing change – social, economic and medical – within the communities served by Topsy.