‘Thursdays are always bad’

Personally, I don’t have anything against Thursdays, but the guy who was doing some graphic design for the project I am working on said he doesn’t like the day – something bad always happens to him on that day. His name is Info, not short for information, but ‘Informal Settlement’. That is kind of hard to remember for anyone, so it became Info. He did a great job in making some of the pictures we had of the clinic into a ‘cartoon’ style.

The pictures are showing the work of the male health clinic for testing on HIV/AIDS in Khayelitsha. I am designing a strategy for the clinic’s work. It is a bit different from what I originally intended to do here, but I am sure enjoying it. Working mostly on women’s health before, it is refreshing to focus on the other sex for a change [for those of you that know me well, note the irony of this sentence].

I started working on this, as basically all the other work of the organisation is shutting down. Again a donor* has decided to cut the cord – in other words, no more funding. They have done this on such short notice [and announced this 5 days after my arrival in the organisation], that the organisation has no time to get back up funding. Of course there’s a structural question on how the organisation organises its funding – but finding myself for the second time in a year’s time in an organisation that is being dismantled, is rather depressing. Even more so as I’ve seen how the fieldworkers here perform essential services for children and their parents living with HIV/AIDS [which also made the demise of my organisation seem like peanuts, Olive Leaf Foundation has served millions of people over the years].

Hence, I asked what was going to survive and whether I could make a positive contribution there. It turned out that the male clinic might come into extra money via the Government of Monaco and that the Department of Health who is the key donor at the moment wants to set up more clinics the coming years. Next thing I know, I am pushing the process to design a strategic concept to make sure the clinic can really survive financially, but also expand its activities to support the concept of ‘male wellness’. In short this means the clinic doesn’t only offer HIV/AIDS testing, but would like to be a center where men can also work on their social and economic well-being through support groups, a social hang out (without alcohol), a gym, support in job hunting through internet access, addressing violence, including violence in their relationships with counseling services etc.
It has been a lot of fun to design a coherent strategy out of all the ideas of the staff of the clinic and technical staff of OLF. Tomorrow it’s Thursday and we’re going to present it to the Department of Health with the ‘cartoon’ pictures to make the presentation a bit more memorable – than just a piece of paper. Now I can only hope that Info isn’t right about Thursdays, as this concept really deserves a chance. So please keep your fingers crossed and make sure the Department of Health will hand over the money without hesitation after we have presented the new concept.

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