Tsholofelo Community Empowerment Evaluation Work

Tsholofelo Community in South Africa.  The community is guided by Bishop Kevin Dowling, Brother Joe, and Sister Georgina.  The front of their building is posted above and to the left of this discussion.

Bishop Kevin Dowling, Dr. Ray Basson, and Sister Georgina on the Left
Brother Joe on the Right - Our Evening Chat about Politics
(Dr. Fetterman is taking the picture)

They are members of St. Joseph’s Mission, part of the Diocese of Rustenburg.   St. John Baptist de La Salle founded the Institute of the Brothers, also called the Christian BrothersThey are engaged in educational, health, and employment outreach activities in squatter settlements primarily outside of Johannesburg.  Professor Ray Basson, formerly from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, has been facilitating their empowerment evaluation. 

One part of their work is focused in Freedom Park, in the heart of a squatter settlement.

Typical Home in a Squatter Settlement

Scope of Situation:  20,000 Homes in this Community Alone

Outside of Community Member's Home

Inside of Community Member's Home 
(new born baby inside - life goes on)

They have helped to introduce a crèche or pre-school, a primary school, a primary health care clinic, and an HIV/AIDS outreach program, as well as other community support services.  This work is, in part, supported by Impala Platinum (a platinum mining company in South Africa).

Freedom Park Sign

Over the past seven years, Bishop Kevin Dowling has developed his initial makeshift clinic into a program that provides comprehensive treatment and counseling to hundreds of people a year. "He is the aids bishop," says Father James Keenan, a professor of theological ethics at Boston College, Massachusetts.  

Bishop Dowling on Left

The clinics are effective in part because they rely on State licensed Traditional Healers in the community.  They are culturally credible health care providers in the community and represent a pipeline for the community clinic.  In addition they are responsive to the highly sensitive nature of an AIDS diagnosis in squatter settlements, which can result in isolation, ostracism, ridicule, and physical danger.  

Traditional Healer with Certificate from the State

Margret Btlhaping is one of the liaisons between the local health care providers and the clinics.  

Margret (clinic liaison), Anna Mawelena (Traditional Healer), 
and David Fetterman

In addition they have an internationally recognized hospice called Tapologo Aids Hospice.

Tapologo means "place of rest and peace". They provide systematic anti-retrovial therapy for HIV patients.  

It is a place where “terminally ill patients can be brought to die in peace and dignity and others can be healed of infections.”  

Nurse Sophie 
Stuffed animal tree is in the background to remember each child 
as they pass through the hospice as their final destination.

One of the Wards (beautiful mosaic floors)

Their work has also been recognized for it holistic approach, reaching out to families as well as patients.  They also address the growing number of orphans resulting from the AIDS epidemic.  

Much of this work is funded by the US President’s emergency plan for AIDS relief - PEPFAR.

Bishop Kevin was the first African bishop to call on the church to reconsider its ban on condom use. He believes condoms are a useful tool to protect millions of people against aids.  This position, although radical by Roman Catholic Church standards, is not completely unexpected, as the Lasalle Church promotes a “certain independent distance from church authority.”  In addition their theological position concerning the clergy contrasts with more traditional views. They are composed solely of lay brothers. Their philosophy toward clergy is summarized as: “Where every member is a minister.”

Chapel by the Hospice

Inside of Chapel

Tapestry in Chapel

Bishop Kevin Dowling, was recognized by Time Magazine as one of 37 Heroes "changing the world for the better." 

Their empowerment evaluation emphasizes, as Brother Joe says:  “listening, listening, and then listening again.  It may take years.”  They are focused on identifying what the community thinks is important and working with them to assess and address those needs.  (Contact Professor Ray Basson for more details.)


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