During my monitoring and evaluation visit to South Africa in October 2019, I spent a day with the Gogo Support Team from the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust.  I am delighted to share this story during Mental Health Awareness Week as it epitomises the theme of #Kindness and how mental health can be improved by acts of kindness and mutual support.

Hosted by Phindwe and Thandi we set off to visit a Gogo Support Group.  This group of 13 ladies is one of the longest established GOGO support groups and we met at the "leader" Tangiwe's house.  They have a fabulous garden where they grow spinach, cabbage, beetroot, onions, carrots and beans.  They have also planted a crop of yams (called mThumbe locally) which is essentially a cash crop, it is a staple of the diet locally but can only be grown where there is an underlying water table.  The land that Tangiwe and her group have has this particular topography and therefore can utilise this to develop their co-operative.  They are a strong and close knit group, they currently all contribute R200 from their pensions to a savings pot and then this money is used to build a concrete house for any member who doesn't have one.  In the picture above, left the grey roofed building is the first house to be built from this scheme, the Gogo used to live in the rondavel to the side of it. 

The next ambition is to ensure that all of the members of the group have an inside toilet, so that when they are older, they will not struggle to get out to use the outside WC.  Many have already purchased the sanitary ware, they are saving for the plumbing work.  Finally the target is that each of the Gogo's homes will have a "JoJo" a water tank for rainwater harvest.  Clearly this is a group of ambitious and forward thinking ladies.  Not only that, their humour and joy of life is evident.  There is over 1000 years of experience between them!  They told me that when they are working in the garden they talk about their lives, their current challenges and also their early years, of loves lost but fondly remembered! A fabulous group of women! #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #BeKind