Youth and livestock
Animal Health Promotion Club (AHPC)
Mdukatshani believes the youth are the future of agriculture in the rural areas. Currently young children are the primary herders and livestock keepers in many if not most rural African homes. They are willing learners and learn about livestock and their own health in after school clubs. They use what they learn to manage their own health as well as support their homes in improving basic animal health.
The youth are the educated future of the country and are crucial for any current or future technical skills entering rural areas. They are also the unemployed with the current number running at close to 5 million unemployed youth in the country. Up to 70% of the poor in the South Africa rely on livestock for food security in their homes.
The schools program, the Animal Health Promotion Club (AHPC), works with Grade 5 and 6 learners to teach the basics of human and livestock health. This is accomplished through the use of a storybook, activity book, practicals, and a camp. The storybook was designed with community input, and was written to match the everyday reality of the learners. In addition to livestock health, the storybook explores other issues affecting children such as HIV and gender inequality. This is done by following the daily lives of the main characters in the storybook, a boy named Sipho and a girl named Nosipho, fraternal twins. Each chapter presents a new problem and opportunity to learn about health, the environment, and the ways in which sickness can be avoided and/or treated in both humans and animals. These lessons are reinforced with take home activities which encourage children to make changes in their homesteads and discuss the lessons with their parents. Additionally, these lessons are taught in both isiZulu and English to help increase English proficiency and confidence in the learners. Currently we have partnered with four schools and we are working to expand our club into a second year with new activities to further develop the themes covered with our Grade 5 learners.
Working in tandem with our AHPC, we also form women’s groups in the areas near our schools. These groups meet once a week to discuss health issues and social issues that the group identifies as problems within their community. There is a particular emphasis on HIV treatment and prevention education along with activities developed to help parents talk to their children about HIV and safe sex. Increasing lines of communication between children and their parents is a goal worked on through both the women’s group and the AHPC.
Finally, we are currently working to create girl’s groups for teenagers which focus on education around HIV, STI’s, and safe sex practices. These lessons are derived from the national Zazi campaign and work to increase confidence and lower young women’s vulnerability to HIV. These lessons also cover life skills such as CV writing and practice interviews.