Why WN was founded
Wola Nani was first founded by human rights activist, Gary Lamont, here he speaks of why in 1994 he decided to start Wola Nani:
"We wanted to open the door for a bit more justice to come in. After the 1994 elections HIV became the issue. The gay HIV epidemic had arrived in the late 80s, and for a small number of people with HIV, there was a strong gay movement. But for South African black women and children, they had nothing. They were poor, illiterate, lacked transport and had no real community in the townships as they had come from rural areas. They were nowhere near having ‘a voice'. We wanted to provide services for those who couldn't help themselves. It was a physical expression of the new South Africa. We were on a roll from the end of apartheid – altruistic, energetic and full of ideas".
"We always tried to have some fun to compensate for the tragic themes – lunchtime discos and an end of year party in the Red Ribbon Campaign. It is important to be positive. We wanted to be creative and political. In the early days, people didn't know what would work. Everything we did was an experiment. We were ignorant, and so lucky. And we were honest. We never pretended we were experts. To be honest, I don't think there was ever a day when I knew what was going on. We made the most of all the opportunities. At one point I think we had 16 projects on at the same time. The work hives were nearly always successful if they were established and set up properly. But we soon realized we could be more effective if we concentrated on fewer things, so we closed down the less productive projects"
"Khayelitsha is a more mature community now. Back then, when we'd only been going 18 months or so, you couldn't even say HIV. I remember being in a support group session in a shipping container (it was all we had at the time) and afterwards the nurse said to me, ‘you can't say that, you can't say HIV' – that was the extent of the stigma and denial, the women couldn't talk about it openly, even amongst themselves. But over time, things have changed. It was great to see the work hives take off. It was the first regular activity they ever had. They had new clothes, dignity and were becoming politicised."
A word from Wola Nani's current director, Moira Jones:
Wola Nani's serious mission of caring for the infected and affected persons living with HIV and AIDS has always been carried out with activities like painting the town red by wrapping building in giant ribbons or lighting up table mountain on World Aids Day.
Nowadays, with more awareness than before Wola Nani lies its mission of caring through counseling and testing; ARV adherence counseling and support, after school programmes fro vulnerable children and income generation opportunities for persons with HIV and AIDS. Most recently Wola Nani launched a Research and Training Institute which seeks to develop good practice models which Wola Nani can share with the HIV sector at large, including government, donors and partner organisations. We hope that this year we continue to grow as an organisation and help more people with HIV and AIDS to live with support, hope and dignity. Thank you for all of your support and donations.