South African Red Cross volunteers are at the heart of our work. They are local people and are often the only carers available.
They use their local knowledge to help in ways that are more readily accepted by communities and will therefore have a greater impact.
Many of our volunteers are living with HIV themselves, so they understand what their clients are going through.
Care and support
More people across the world now have access to antiretroviral therapy, which slows the growth of the virus and enables those with HIV to lead normal lives.
Despite this progress, the challenges that HIV places on all aspects of life remain huge.
Red Cross volunteers provide a range of services to help people in their everyday lives.
For example, offering basic home care, providing food parcels, giving nutritional advice and helping to establish vegetable gardens that generate an income. They also help people access social welfare support.
Through Red Cross support groups, those living with HIV and their carers receive psychological and emotional support from other community members.
Red Cross teams run health workshops to raise awareness about HIV and prevent further infections.
Topics include: HIV, AIDS and TB; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; sexual and reproductive health; gender-based violence.
Peer educators, aged 18-25, are trained to promote life skills and positive living to other young people in their communities and schools.
We also distribute hundreds of thousands of male and female condoms every year, and train people to use them.
Orphans and livelihoods
People who are sick from HIV-related infections often find it impossible to work and are unable to support themselves financially.
We help people living with HIV in KwaZulu-Natal provide for their families by teaching them skills such as chicken farming, handicrafts, sewing and knitting.
These activities require minimal financial investment and take into account the fact that there’s no electricity in most of the communities we work in.
Orphans and other vulnerable children receive a wide range of practical help, including food, home visits and education support (e.g. uniforms and school materials).
Some of these children are heads of their own households, meaning they care for their siblings as well as themselves.