Report December 2019 Hosted by Synexus
By: Lucky Molefe, Synexus Clinical Research Site, Mamelodi East, South Africa
“We want the world to focus on children whose lives have been devastated by aids. The millions of children who are missing their parents, their childhood, their future, but most importantly, they are missing you. Everyone can make a real difference. Your voice is needed in a global movement that can change their world.”
– Pierce Brosnan, actor
Part one: 5km Colour walk
All registered participants gathered at the starting point for the colour explosion that kicked off with the colour walk through the community of Ext 5. CAB members Lesego and Milton coordinated the proceedings for the walk, and marshals that included young high school students from Loxion Science were placed along the route to distribute water and splash powder paints to those participating in the walk.
Launch of Colours Walk Run December 2019
Colour Run Explosion and start of Fun Walk, December 2019
End of Fun Walk, December 2019
Keeping Walking, December 2019
Returning from Fun Walk, December 2019
Community members pose, December 2019
Part 2: Speeches
Part two of the programme was kick-started by our electrifying Master of Ceremonies Collen Khoza, and a prayer session by Mrs. Agnes Sepeng (CAB member), with the Mamelodi Gospel group taking our crowd through a spiritual journey with popular gospel songs.
Present at the event was Dr. Sheena Kotze (HVTN Principal Investigator) who gave a talk about the importance of not stigmatizing people living with HIV using the placard “Hate the disease not the diseased.” Dr. Kotze also touched on the role of HIV vaccine research, and emphasis was put on the importance of ongoing research to prevent HIV and finding alternative preventive methods to complement what is currently available. The Community Advisory Board (CAB) chairperson emphasised the importance of research, and appealed to community members to embrace research instead of subscribing to negative statements reported by ill-informed people. Research is important for communities because it improves quality of life. The chairperson encouraged community members to come forth to the CAB or Synexus staff to clarify any information that might be misunderstood.
The motivation by a person living with HIV from Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) really touched community members’ moods in a positive way. The speaker danced to a popular song called Amapiano to demonstrate that people living with HIV are enjoying life like any other person.
Master of Ceremonies updating the Programme, December 2019
Registration Point, December 2019
CAB chairperson speaking on role of community in research, December 2019
Candle Lighting, December 2019
Mamelodi Youth Choir –Singing “Klap and Tap,” December 2019
Dr. Sheena Kotze, HVTN 705 Principal Investigator, educating on HIV Prevention Methods and Research, December 2019
Motivational Speaker showing dance moves, December 2019
The candle lighting ceremony was led by our CAB chairperson, who is also a TAC representative in Mamelodi, who gave a brief explanation on the significance of lighting the candles, saying that candle lighting is about remembering those who have lost their lives to AIDS and those affected by the scourge of HIV. Before candles were lit, a prayer session commenced and after the lighting of the candles, a moment of silence took place. The community members were advised not to blow out their candle when extinguishing them, but to use their hands in order to feel the pain that HIV is causing in our society.
There was a message of support from local leaders who encouraged people to support Synexus research programmes, and to come forward with questions for clarity. A follow-up speaker promoted the community projects that support the elderly people in Mamelodi, and encouraged other elderly to join senior citizens clubs in order to access support in times of need. The benefit of joining senior citizens gym clubs include staying healthy and being able to receive professional and peer counselling in resolving personal issues around family matters.
Community leader message of support, December 2019
Candle lighting, December 2019
Community members confirming support for HIV prevention
The event was full of entertaining activities from dance, singing, and thoughtful words of wisdom. The Stanza Development centre was able to update and register youth who are looking for skills and jobs opportunities.
There were 197 registered people in attendance. More community members came after registration closed, which means more people were actually present.
The Synexus staff and CAB members were instrumental in making the event a success in various ways from community mobilisation, planning, catering and task allocation. We wish to thank Stanza Development Centre, Lulaway, Loxion Science, the CAB and all the other stakeholders in ensuring that community members attended the event as expected despite the forecast for rain.
Personality Dancers entertaining community members, December 2019
Lucky Molefe is the Community Engagement Manager of the Synexus Clinical Research Site.