The Raphael Centre for people living with AIDS is situated in a house in central Grahamstown and for six years has steadily grown its services, reaching out into a community where the majority of people live in poverty and are unemployed. The Centre, headed by Jabu van Niekerk, has been recognised for its excellence and dedication in combating the spread of HIV and AIDS and to improving access to support services required by those who are HIV-positive or living with AIDS. Every month the Raphael Centre provides a range of diverse HIV and AIDS services to approximately 700 people and touches the lives of thousands of people every year. Voluntary Counselling and HIV Testing (VCT) is seen as the entry point to a wide range of services.
Mission Statement and Vision
The Raphael Centre is dedicated to combating the spread of HIV/AIDS and to im proving access to support services required by those who are HIV positive or living with AIDS.The Raphael Centre uses Voluntary Counselling and HIV testing as a vehicle to implement this vision.
Nikithemba is sponsored, funded, and overseen by the Anglican Diocese of Grahamstown.The Anglican Diocese of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa was founded over 150 years ago in 1853. Although non-denominational, the Raphael Centre functions in premises owned by the Community of the Resurrection in Grahamstown. HIV counselling and testing offered. Crafts training for HIV positive women, and a nursery school for their children. Pastoral care provided by the Sisters. Supported by Rhodes University, and the UK charity AVERT (AIDS Prevention, Education and Research Trust).
The Raphael Centre provides the most effective and popular rapid testing service in the area. Every month between 120 and 160 people come to the Raphael Centre to find out whether they are HIV positive. It is an indication that Grahamstown community members are reassured by the Centre's reputation of good, confidential service that increasingly more and more people visit to be tested. The Centre is clearly fulfilling a community need.
In the past year, the Centre has co-operated with Khomanani in stepping up a local awareness campaign to encourage everyone to know their serostatus. This has resulted in more people are coming for testing; many of whom come for an AIDS test as a routine health habit, allowing the Centre can empower them with the information needed to keep their status negative.
In back-to-back moves this week, the Pentagon began exploring ways to lend support at the Southern border, while the House on Thursday voted to allow the Homeland Security Department in limited cases to use soldiers in that region.
At the Pentagon, Paul McHale, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, asked officials to offer options for the use of military resources and troops -- particularly the National Guard -- along the border with Mexico, according to defense officials familiar with the discussions.
The officials, who requested anonymity because the matter has not been made public, said there were no details yet on a defense strategy.
Thursday's House vote allowed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to assign military personnel under certain circumstances to help the Homeland Security Department with border security. The vote was 252-171, and the provision was added to a larger military measure.
The actions underscored the importance of the border and immigration issues, yet were tentative enough to reflect worries about drawing the nation's armed forces into a politically sensitive domestic role.
Southern lawmakers met this week with White House strategist Karl Rove for a discussion that included making greater use of National Guard troops to shore up border control.
The Senate is poised to pass legislation this month that would call for additional border security, a new guest worker program and provisions opening the way to eventual citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
"The Texas delegation is very concerned about the border and are pushing urgency," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who joined other Texas Republicans in a meeting with Rove this week. He said Rove was "very forthright" about border projects that Homeland Security is starting up, its current projects and what the needs are.