‘There’s Such Passion Here, It’s Contagious!’

“We work with people, and I am proud to part of an organisation I know will make a difference to their lives.”

Sheena Lott joined our South Africa team in November as the new Deputy Country Director. In her first blog she tells us what she’s enjoying about being part of the team and how our work is making a difference.

It wasn’t until I worked with a local hospital that I saw what HIV really meant for South Africa. I had seen it from afar of course… young people were often withdrawn from our education programmes because of illness. But it was a shock to see the actual impact. Too many people were dying – especially children.

South Africa was country in denial, and I soon found myself involved in advocacy work. That’s where I met CHIVA South Africa. We delivered a number of projects together. I knew them, and I believed in their approach.

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I love being part of the CHIVA SA team, especially working to build the capacity of local clinic staff. It’s the right approach. I know that if we can build people’s skills, we can create change at community level, roll-out new projects, and work from the bottom, up. The challenge is making sure that everyone – clinic staff, communities – is on the same page. But there’s such passion here, it’s contagious!

I saw it in my first week, when our teams helped diagnose a young boy presenting with TB. If CHIVA SA hadn’t been there, he would never have known his HIV status. That’s when it hit me. There are so many cases that are being missed – and so many others at risk.

The government is taking South Africa’s youth-epidemic seriously, and we are not afraid to lead the way. CHIVA SA has great ambition for 2018, and I look forward to seeing the change – from beginning to end, and everything in-between. I am particularly excited to see our Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) grow, and I believe that by aligning ourselves with national priorities, this year will be CHIVA SA’s chance to shine: our work is all encompassing. If you have a youth-friendly clinic, you’re going to address prevention, you’re going to address treatment, and you’re going to address long-term care.

That’s why our work matters. We don’t just deal with numbers, statistics or caseloads. We work with people, and I am proud to part of an organisation I know will make a difference to their lives.

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