Afrika Tikkun builds a healthy society

Optometrist Siyabonga Nkosi examines Andisile Payi, 5.

Hundreds of children and parents from Mfuleni scored big when Afrika Tikkun, in partnership with Mobile Schools Health (MSH), held a two-day health awareness programme at Zolile Malindi community centre, on Friday and Saturday July 28 and 29.

Scores of children, all part of the organisation’s kids’ programme, and from the community, received free dentistry and optometry treatment as well as general primary health care from the MSH mobile health truck.

The initiative was part of MSH’s Mandela Month community service.

The truck has an optometry and dentistry facility and is one of many owned by Mobile Specialised Technologies (MST) to render mobile health service to quintile 1 and 2 schools around the province.

Children with impaired vision got free reading glasses, while others had their teeth checked and treated.

While the occasion was generally an exciting one, it proved to be a nightmare for those who went for oral examinations, the sight of all the needles and other tools used by the dentist proving too much to handle.

Four-year-old Ntsika Yekelo watched and reacted to every move the dentist made. “Are you going to prick me?” he asked as he took to the dentist’s chair.

His eyes roamed the room nervously, but afterward he sheepishly said to the dentist: “Thank you, thank you.”

Afrika Tikkun’s Shirley Tshwale said they wanted to give children health care without having to leave their comfort zone.

The programmes they offer, she said, included an early childhood development centre, for children between the ages of two to six; children and youth development for children between the ages of seven and 18; and youth skills development for those between the ages of 18 and 35.

The programmes are designed to ensure children get all the support they need from two years old until they become adults.

The organisation has about 100 health-care workers going door-to-door in Mfuleni to assess people’s socio-economic needs.

Where necessary, they render assistance and make referrals.

Ms Tshwale said the idea was to create a healthy and prospering community.

MSH operations co-ordinator Krista Roberto, said they generally worked with the provincial department of education to render help to pupils in needy schools.

She said their trucks visited different schools around the province daily to ensure kids got the necessary health support.

“Our focus is on preventative health for kids to grow up as healthy as possible,” she said.

“The focus is on primary schools, but there is always room for expansion.”

As part of the Mandela Day celebrations, she said they decided to team up with Afrika Tikkun to reach more children.

“We are truly happy to reach as many children as we can. We want to give the children what they deserve without inconveniencing the parents,” she said.