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21 March 2015

Celebrating The Freedom Charter, Enjoying Equal Human Rights For All

Human Rights Day is a national day that is commemorated annually on 21 March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa.

The commemoration provides the country with an opportunity to reflect on progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Human Rights Day celebrations for 2015 will take place as follows:

Time: 9h00

Venue: Rosedale Field, Kwalanga, Uitenhage

Why Human Rights Day?

The 1960s were characterised by systematic defiance and protest against apartheid and racism across the country. On 21 March 1960, the community of Sharpeville and Langa townships, like their fellow compatriots across the country, embarked on a protest march to march protest against pass laws. The apartheid police shot and killed 69 of the protesters at Sharpeville, many of them shot while fleeing. Many other people were killed in other parts of the country. The tragedy came to be known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it exposed the apartheid government’s deliberate violation of human rights to the world.

The democratic government declared March 21 Human Rights Day to commemorate and honour those who fought for our liberation and the rights we enjoy today. Our Constitution is hailed as one of the most progressive in the world. The Constitution is the ultimate protector of our Human Rights, which were previously denied to the majority of our people under Apartheid. We commemorate Human Rights Day to reinforce our commitment to the Bill of Rights as enshrined in our Constitution.

These rights include:

  • Equality – everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law;
  • Human dignity – everyone has inherent dignity and have their dignity respected and protected;
  • Freedom of movement and residence – everyone has a right to freedom of movement and to reside anywhere in the country;
  • Language and culture – everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice; and
  • Life - everyone has the right to life.

Government will host various activities throughout the Human Rights Month to remind all South African to continue working together to uphold the culture of human rights. Human Rights come with responsibilities and we all have the responsibility to build a society that respects the rule of law.

Whether we are at the work place, within communities, at schools, or with our partners and children, we all need to demonstrate the kind of responsibility that we would like to see in our country’s future.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that our human rights record and history are preserved and strengthened for future generations.

For more about the South African Government, refer to www.gov.za.

 

Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) hosted its first donor and sponsor acknowledgement function on 18 February 2015 at its Head Office at Lynnwood, Pretoria.

The donors and sponsors that were acknowledged are those who have walked a long road with FPD, from humble beginnings to more recent years contributing to the FPD vision of building a better society through education and development. The aim of the function was to express gratitude and show appreciation for the value the donors and sponsors have added; and to strengthen the social relationships and build emotional engagement.

Among the organisations that partner with FPD; USAID, AstraZeneca and JHPIEGO graced us with their presence and they were recognised with certificates of acknowledgement.

In the words of USAID Southern Africa Director, Cheryl L. Anderson; “FPD has been an excellent partner in working with HIV/AIDS. It has the ability to enrich and develop people. USAID values FPD as a partner and how they are currently reaching out to other countries. The organisation is a great development and they manage phenomenon projects and programmes such as the currently operating Thuthuzela project.”

Prior to the acknowledgement function, FPD held its second annual donor dialogue focusing on issues around South Africa’s Quadruple Burden of Epidemics: Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s), Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS.

FPD Managing Director, Gustaaf Wolvaardt was the first speaker and he discussed the HIV/AIDS topic. His talk was based on how to place another 2.4 million people on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART); and he presented the preliminary recommendations of the FPD research task team on scaling up testing and treatment. The study looked at models, suggestions and strategies that can be used to achieve the goal at doubling the number of people on ART.

Soul City programme director, Dr Susan Goldstein shared the preventive approaches to GBV. She highlighted that South Africa is known as the rape capital of the world with as many as 500 000 rapes taking place in a year and the shocking facts that rape perpetrators are people who are most often life partners, they have a higher education and they follow a particular religious belief. Dr Goldstein then presented cost effective interventions which includes; participatory group based interventions, gender norms training and community level mobilisation.

Prof. Bob Pattinson, director of the Medical Research council (MRC) discussed the problem and probable solutions in maternal and infant deaths. He shared that South Africa has a high maternal and prenatal mortality ratio. He also emphasized that the maternal deaths are greatly caused by non- pregnant related infections, haemorrhage and hypertension and the prenatal deaths caused by primary obstetric such as Intrapartum asphyxia and big trauma, spontaneous preterm birth and hypertension. Moreover, Major neonatal causes of prenatal deaths are hypoxia and immaturity. According to Prof. Pattinson’s statistics; 1700 mothers and 32000 children lose their lives per year due to these causes, therefore he proposed the following suggestions be put to place; prioritisation, knowledge and skilled health professionals, healthcare facilities with appropriate equipment, medications and staff, and emergency transport.
 
Prof Kelebogile Mokwena, HOD of Public Health at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University analysed factors that contribute to NCD’s which are mainly socially derived.  In South Africa, the patterns of emerging NCD’s are mostly seen in poor people living in urban settings and this has a negative impact on the quality of healthcare as it increases the pressure on acute and chronic healthcare as services. She also provided recommendations for preventing, controlling and managing NCD’s amongst which include the recommendations, strategic plan to prevent and control NCD’s and strategic plans to prevent and manage NCD’s amongst which include; strengthening the district-based primary healthcare system, develop a national surveillance system and to apply interventions of proven cost-effectiveness across the health facilities.

This Donor Dialogue came at a time when the political commitment is strong and ambitious, when the funding environment is precariously uncertain and at a time when sustainable solutions need to be developed for a lasting impact. It covered critical issues that provide insights into trends and opportunities surrounding South Africa’s quadruple epidemics.

“The real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves.” - Frances Moore Lappé

Mary Choombwa is a 65 year old widow and subsistence farmer who lives in Mwonze, about 200kms from Lusaka, Zambia. Over the years, Mary lost all the 12 herds of cattle which she owned to tick-borne diseases. Mary recalls; “When the cattle died it was painful. They were my wealth. We used them for ploughing and drawing our carts. Now overnight, I was left with nothing.”

Mary’s case is not unique, in sub-Saharan Africa, ticks and tsetse flies transmit some of the most economically devastating diseases which claim close to two million cattle annually. Some of the diseases transmitted by ticks include: zambeziensis; babesiosis, and anaplasmosis.

The solution to ticks is to spray the cattle with arcaricides or take them to a dip tank. The challenge in Mary’s case is that the dip tank is 15kms away and it costs one kwacha per cow. Dipping should be done every week in order to be effective. This means that for Mary’s 12 cattle, she would have had to spend about seven American dollars per month on cattle dipping. Although this amount might seem merger, it is a huge amount of money in sub-Saharan Africa where more than half of the population survive on less than a dollar a day.

For Mary, the loss of her cattle marked a turning point in her life. She decided that she would do everything in her power to protect her animals. In 2013, Mr Misa Hachalala, a lead farmer under the Southern African Network for Biosciences (SANBio) Livestock Node based in Lusaka, spoke to her on the possibility of using an organic plant, Tephrosia, to prevent ticks breeding on her cows. He gave her a few seeds to plant in her garden and informed her that there was a training scheduled to happen in her area. Mary who was in the process of restocking her herd embraced this opportunity and availed herself for the training. “I asked my five children to also attend the training so that my whole household knew how to use the plant.”

Through the training, Mary was taught how to grow the plant, pick the leaves, pound them, and mix them with water to create the formula she can use for spraying the cattle. She learnt that once the plant was ready for harvesting, she needed only 2 hours every week to both prepare this formula and spray her cattle.

Today, Mary boasts that she has not lost any cows since she started using the Tephrosia plant. Her children help her to spray the animals and she feels very happy with the effects of the plant. She now has eight cows. She has also found other innovative uses of the spray, which include spraying the interior of her house to kill bed bugs.

To commemorate International Women’s Day, SANBio celebrates women like Mary who have risen above the challenges they face on a daily basis. Mary is a perfect example of how women can benefit from capacity building initiatives and pull themselves and their households out of poverty.

By Gwadamirai Majange

The FPD award for excellence in community engagement is awarded annually to the employee who has made the most significant contribution towards FPD’s community engagement. The 2014 prize was awarded to Sharon Ngomane, Mgozi shares her story.

Sharon is a community health nurse from a rural village in Bushbuckridge. She has a speciality in Primary health care nursing science and worked in the primary healthcare setting since she qualified as a nurse. Her love for community development motivated her to further her studies to Masters Degree level majoring in community health nursing science. She is currently the community technical lead at FPD and she works with a team of 31 people in 4 different districts. The team is made-up of 4 primary healthcare nurses, 9 social workers who also serve as community champions, 2 community coordinators as well as 16 health promotion assistants who are the re-enforcement for community mobilisation in the districts.

“When I joined FPD, the community project was still new so the stream contributed immensely to its success. My job comes with a lot of responsibilities including meeting deadlines   supervising and managing a big team. I see this as a positive challenge in my career as it contributes to the development of my Human Resource Management skills” said Sharon Ngomane.

“Receiving the award was a great reward to my contributions in the communities. Before I could learn that I had won, congratulations where coming in from my colleagues and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about until Dr Margot Uys handed me the award at a meeting. I was overwhelmed to learn that there are people observing what I am doing in the work place and it also made me realise that my labour is not in vain. My sincere gratitude goes to my supervisor, Dr Uys and my committed team for all their contributions towards the success of the programme.”

Her motto in life is based on Ecclesiastes 9:10; whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
 

“I find work values inspiring and they give me a sense of purpose. They help me to re-direct myself when I go out of line and I can also use them in managing my staff to draw them back when they are not delivering quality,” said Prof. David Cameron in excitement.

The FPD values award is presented annually to the employee who in the opinion of their colleagues lives the FPD values and David received the 2014 award. David is a Senior Specialist at a Strategic Information Technical Assistance department at FPD. He is trained as a medical doctor and worked all over South Africa; in rural and urban areas and he served the University of Pretoria for 12 years before joining FPD in 2010.

 David believes that company values are important and they are not there to decorate office walls. Company values are the guiding principles for employees; they help people understand that they are working for a purpose. “Working just to earn a salary is not satisfying but doing a job that has a purpose and working to make a difference inspires me. Values indicate what is important for a company and at FPD; Innovation, Integrity, Quality, Freedom of challenge, Respect and Service to society are equally important.”

“Our CEO, Dr Gustaaf Wolvaardt is very creative and innovative, and that sets a tone for the rest of us to try and solve problems in an innovative way. The Integrity value reminds us to deliver on our promises to the government and other organisations we work with. The Freedom to challenge is one value that is not often practiced. People believe in being submissive and doing what they have been told. In FPD employees have the right to question what is being done, particularly if they have a better way of doing it.”

David emphasised that these values reflect on our mission which is to catalyse social change through developing people (which is the educational side of FPD), strengthening systems (which is what the TA Cluster is doing working alongside the government to improve healthcare) and proving innovative solutions (which challenges us to come up with new ideas to solving problems).

“FPD is a great place to work because it has allowed me to do things that often in government a person is prevented to do. It has allowed me to do interesting and innovative things and that I have enjoyed tremendously. ”

FPD’s values were formulated by FPD employees in a fully consultative process.  Everyone had an input there were  discussions, consultations and eventually a voting process from which emerged  the above mentioned values.

 
 

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