The Dududu Drop-In Centre is a non-profit organization serving the Dududu community in Vulamhelo, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Founded in 2005, the Centre strives to mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the area by working closely with Dududu community members that are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS with a targeted focus on the Dududu Youth Club, orphans and vulnerable children. The Centre’s focus has been providing youth with food, essential health related services, as well as tailored programs that combat the many pervasive socioeconomic challenges the community faces.
My time in Dududu thus far has been incredibly eye opening. Being in the epicenter of the HIV virus has taught me to think outside the box, and look at the greater picture. The Centre not only focuses on HIV education, awareness, and testing, but also emphasizes environmental stewardship. I am beginning to understand that everything is connected, and every action, whether good or bad has significant consequences on the community as a whole.
The Dududu Youth Club is made up of youth that have been heavily impacted by the HIV virus. Many DYC members are burdened by the disease, while others have been orphaned by it, demanding they be cared for by foster homes and overstrained family members. In addition, DYC members come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in which the percentage of the community’s population living below the $2 per day poverty line is an incredible 80 percent. The youth here have showed me, that despite all the challenges they face on a daily basis, there is no reason not to be satisfied with life. They are not afraid to be positive role models for younger children, and are almost always smiling. They have dreams, and aspirations, something that HIV can’t diminish. Many want to be doctors, police officers, politicians, rappers, soccer players and business owners. I admire the youth, and their thirst for life. I have only been here for a month or so, but the community has made me feel like a member of their extended family. They want to teach me about Zulu culture, their language, their food, their customs, and the things they are proud of. I have always considered myself a student of life, and am endlessly grateful for being able to be a student in their classroom. I look forward to the days ahead.
Youth of today, the light of tomorrow
Shining through the darkness and sorrow
HIV, three very real letters
Ignoring the facts won’t make things better
It takes a village to educate their children
To make the right choices and live with them
Do as you say, and say as you do
This is the youth’s philosophy here in Dududu
They want to work, hand in hand
Share their knowledge through leadership and wipe HIV off this land.