Friend-Raising is a new initiative for Woza Moya!  The Woza Moya Board of Directors has decided to follow a different path in order to create financial sustainability. Our aim is to facilitate ever expanding circles of friends for Woza Moya, networking with people who are passionate about helping our cause and making social impact. We are asking people to host Tea Parties where the Woza Moya story can be shared. By bringing friends together, having fun, sharing our story, touching hearts, we believe that each person will have something to contribute. For some it may be retelling the Woza Moya story; for others helping Woza Moya to make a significant connection; some may be in a position to make a donation in money or in kind, volunteering.

We appeal also to our Woza Moya friends in the UK and the US, where we are fortunate to have platforms already in place to receive donations.  We are blessed to have the South Coast Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization in the US as a friend. We receive 100% of all donations made in the UK and the USA, which are tax deductible.

Sue Hedden, Founder and Director will be travelling around South Africa, and to the UK and the USA.  She will be telling the Woza Moya story and requesting many more friends to come on board.  Ideally we would love to encourage people to sign up for a monthly debit order, no matter how small.  Every cent counts! 

We really need your help to make this happen. Download our invite to connect with a small circle of your friends to share our story and get the ball rolling!

Please contact Sue Hedden to offer any support and ideas. 

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Woza Moya Ixopo: sustainability through Friend Raising

Twenty years ago, come April next year, Sue Hedden wrote the first grant proposal that launched Woza Moya, destined to grow into the thriving community-based NGO it has become, which day-to-day improves the lives of close on 10,000 people in the Ufafa valley near Ixopo. 

Since the start, as founding director, Hedden has been hands-on: steering—with a small team—what is widely regarded as a model in South Africa for NGOs in terms of transformation (lives empowered and uplifted) and impeccable financial accountability.

The Ufafa region is home to close on 30,000 people. They live in a jumbled patchwork of mud, thatch, concrete block and tin dwellings that stumble, in organised confusion, up and down the hills and valleys of this densely populated slice of rural KZN. Few of the dwellings have electricity or sanitation. Many who live there are obliged to trek long distances to collect firewood. Most get water for drinking, washing, cooking and bathing from the river and hand-activated boreholes. 

Woza Moya’s primary focus 20 years ago was supporting a population ravaged by HIV-Aids. When ARVs became available (in 2004 in South Africa), the focus changed. “Our main work now is with young people: early childhood and youth development.” 

To mark 20 years the Woza Moya team is launching “Friend Raising”, a creative, friendship-based support initiative. The motivation is to generate financial sustainability for Woza Moya.

At the heart of the Friend Raising concept is a simple request: “We are asking people to host tea parties where the Woza Moya story can be shared,” says Hedden. 

“By bringing friends together, and then friends of friends—having fun, sharing our Woza Moya story, touching hearts—we believe each person will find they have something to contribute.”

For some it may simply be retelling the Woza Moya story; for others, helping Woza Moya make a significant connection (as in expanding the friendship base). 

Yet others “may be in a position to make a donation in money—or in kind”.

“There are a lot of people who want to make a difference, who want to rest easy knowing they’re having a social impact, who want to do something meaningful—but who don’t quite know how,” says Hedden. 

“We are saying: those who want to be hands-on are welcome to become involved with Woza Moya. And there are other ways. For those who don’t have the time or inclination, we need their support. It might be financial. It might be hosting or attending a tea party—at home, at a school, at the office or a community centre—to spread the message.” 

And, stresses Hedden: “We want people to know that when they give, what they give is not going into a dark hole. We have a clear vision on how to make Woza Moya self-sustaining.”

The vision is to build a small Zulu village at Woza Moya: “to accommodate both interested South Africans and our international friends”.

The idea has grown from an expressed need. “I get emails all the time from people who want to come and engage with the community. Regular requests for accommodation from overseas, both from travellers who have read about us and from people keen to volunteer or do research in the community.”

The idea is at the cutting edge of where travel and tourism is today, falling under the umbrella of experiential travel, responsible and conscious travel.

The Zulu village would be “for profit”. As such it would operate as a separate trust; as a business run by a separate team. It would address Woza Moya’s funding requirements long-term.

“So we have this long-term sustainability financial plan. We need people to help us get there. Then we won’t need them any more. The Zulu village will provide the funding needed to make Woza Moya—our many projects, services and community work team members—self-supporting into the future.”

Woza Moya Ixopo: why the Zulu village makes sense

 Ixopo. The Ufafa valley. Alan Paton and Cry, the Beloved Countrycountry. The book’s opening lines: “There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.”

This is Woza Moya country. 

As such, literary tourismis one of many boxes the Zulu village at Woza Moya for financial sustainability ticks.

There are many other travel trends that make it a marketable idea whose time has come, starting with these.

•  Purpose-driven travelis a top trend for 2019. That is, choosing a destination where the visit will make a meaningful impact on the community.
•  Immersive experiences, which support people and communities. Non-profits can raise funds and awareness, with Airbnb waiving feesfor social impact travel experiences.
•  Sustainableand responsible tourismare trending. Authentic experiences that positively impact and benefit communities.
•  Slow traveloffers the opportunity to connect to a place and its people, to become part of local life. It is also thus about connection to culture: One of the tenets of the Slow Movement is to preserve cultural heritage. This is about “living” as opposed to “staying” at a destination.
•  Community Based Tourismsees visitors hosted by locals. It offers the tourist a deeper experiential, participatory, cross-culturally interactive insight and the community get to exercise greater control and accrue more benefits. 
•   Voluntourism—“volunteer tourism”—is the blend of volunteering and tourism.It’s a working holiday for social and environmental causes, whilst experiencing a deeper integration with community, culture and conservation, paid-for to at least cover expenses (rather than being paid a stipend). 
•  Pro-Poor Tourismis defined as “tourism that generates net benefits for the poor”, puts people and poverty at the centre of the sustainability debate and offers poverty alleviation benefits.

Woza Moya Ixopo: then and now

Woza Moya’s founding director, Sue Hedden, a one-time high school Zulu teacher with a Bachelors degree in Zulu and theology, was working as housekeeper at the nearby Buddhist Retreat Centre(BRC) 20 years ago. At the request of the 30 or so Zulu workers on the staff there, she was running adult literacy classes in her spare time.

It was during these classes she heard stories of people dying in the valley. Of orphans left to fend for themselves. Of a community struggling to survive the devastation of what was then a taboo topic: HIV-AIDS.

At the first community meeting called in response to this crisis, Hedden met Jane Nxasana and Benedicta Memela. They have been on the ground, leading the team of community workers that evolved and running Woza Moya with Hedden ever since.

Starting out (in 2000), with no ARVs—which only became available in 2004 in South Africa—the Woza Moya focus was mostly on bereavement counselling, pain relief and helping to implement the wishes of dying patient, especially with regard to children.

“The turning point in our work came five years after we began.” 

In 2005 Woza Moya relocated from their early base at the BRC to a new community centre builton tribal land. And access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) shifted the focus from dying to living. Suddenly there was hope. The Woza Moya Ixopo community caregiving team that had been established was able to acceleratethe message: get tested. 

And “treatment literacy, as we call it” became the new focus in the HIV-Aids arena. “People needed to know how to take their meds, how to access them: how to comply with treatment requirements.” 

The Woza Moya caregiver team has participated in ongoing training as medications and regimes have changed, to keep up to date. 

“We have an HIV adherence club: to help people stay on their meds and ensure they take them correctly.”
By and large older adults are on their meds and doing fine, Hedden says.

This has been due, in no small part, to a partnership between Woza Moya and the Department of Health, which monthly brings a mobile clinic and team from Ixopo. Services include a soup kitchen, education and counselling. 

“About 150 people a month come to the clinic—which means we have taken 150 patients off their hands. Our staff do the data capturing. Our caregivers do the door-to-door support of people with chronic conditions. This has been a massive success,” says Hedden.

Woza Moya’s primary focus is building the capacity of vulnerable and marginalized people in rural KwaZulu-Natal to improve health outcomes and quality of life. 

“Our main work now is among the young people,” says Heddon. The 0-5 age group identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being vulnerable and marginalized and especially susceptible to challenges.

Woza Moya runs an early childhood creche for 50 children. The creche serves as a model early development centre (EDC) for the rest of the valley. “We partner and liaise with nine other creches in the valley. Most are little make-shift humble structures: no running water, sanitation or materials. Our EDC team spends a day a week at these creches. We support, mentor, share our resources—do as much as we can for them with our limited funding.” 

“A significant piece of our work is training primary community caregivers and EDC trainers. Our team look for signs of abuse, neglect, lack of food.” And there is training around the importance of play, talking and interaction.

“We have three groups of teenage moms in training: with a focus on how and why it’s important to engage with children.” 

There is also a focus on the 6 to late-teen groups: young people generally and family development and literacy.  “The work we’re doing now is powerful and impactful among the new generation. Laying the foundation for good lives for hundreds of young people.”

She stresses that Woza Moya doesn’t do projects that create dependency. “We monitor, support and encourage people to help themselves. The philosophy with all our programmes is that people have to meet us half-way.”

They run a successful craft project doing beautiful work. This primarily supports the individual crafter.

Financial self-help groups have been facilitated through with groups of women have become self-sufficient. “Woza Moya actively seeks to empower women in the community and workplace.” 

“We differ from many other home-based projects in that we are about empowerment—not creating dependency.”

A current challenge is that people are now treating HIV as any other chronic illness and no longer as a death sentence. So, like in the rest of the world are seeing as another illness they can treated for.

The new Friend Raising project will funnel into making all of these financially self-sustaining. 

We appeal also to our Woza Moya friends in the UK and the US, where we are fortunate to have platforms already in place to receive donations. We are blessed to have the South Coast Foundation, a 501(c) (3) organization in the US as a friend. We receive 100% of all donations made from the UK and the USA, which are tax deductible.

Note: Woza Moya Ixopo has no link to the Hillcrest Aids Centre trust, which called its income generating craft project, established after 2000, Woza Moya.