In 2000 Carol Hofmeyer, a medial doctor and fine artist moved to the village of Hamburg, which is a small village in a densely populated rural area of the Eastern Cape where the Aids Pandemic is rife. HIV /AIDS was having a devastating effect on a community already suffering due to widespread poverty. Dr Hofmeyer began administering the first anti-retroviral drugs to sick members of the community. This pioneering action began the Keiskamma AIDS Treatment Programme, a programme that endeavours to provide compassionate care and treatment to people affected by HIV / AIDS.
Today the Keiskamma Health project is a committed team of medical and administrative staff with a treatment centre/hospice in Hamburg and numerous outreach programmes covering much of the whole Peddie district. The health programmes aim to fill in government services gaps; advocate for the health and education of a rural population and mobilize the entire community to work together for the well-being of each member.
The History of Hamburg and the surrounding area is a richly-woven tapestry of stories from different cultures and events. The local Xhosa community has lived on the same land through ever-changing social and political climates, all of which have had significant effects on indigenous ways of life, often bringing a loss of wealth and cultural identity. The Keiskamma Trust works towards
restoring a sense of pride, a feeling of belonging, and a belief in the intrinsic values of the local community. Through various projects, ranging from exhibitions at the heritage site to recording of personal histories from personal members, we aim to develop in the community a deeper appreciation and understanding of the local heritage.
Keiskamma education and development focuses on the multifold developmental needs of the growing child. The Keiskamma trust supports several crèches in the area and a growing number of after-school centres as well as running food programmes to ensure that learning children receive a nutritious meal. Priority recipients of care from the Kieskama Trust are orphans and vulnerable children, either infected or significantly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This focus continues to grow with memory box work-shops to help children cope with loss of parents. The Trust continues to look for ways to foster the young people by providing training and meaningful employment for a future full of hope and opportunity.
The Keiskamma Trust exists to foster hope and health as well as pride and self respect amongst the people living by the Keiskamma River, a desperately poor area of the Eastern Cape. By combining Aids treatment, Art Projects and Education Initiatives the Trust has been able to take the fight against Poverty and HIV/AIDS to the very heart of the community.
This action began the Keiskamma Aids Treatment Program, an endeavor to reach and to treat as many people as possible who were sick and dying at the hands of the epidemic. Today her team has grown into a strongly-knit unit of committed nurses, doctors, counselors, health workers, monitors and volunteers who take this fight against HIV/AIDS into the very heart of the community. The Umtha Welanga Treatment Centre was built in 2005 to house the growing needs of patients and the multifold functions of the Health Team.
In order to manage both the Keiskamma Art Project and the Keiskamma Aids Treatment Program, the Keiskamma Trust was established in 2003. Although today Art and Health stand as separate beacons of hope to a community faced with many challenges, they have grown interdependently, and continue to do so. The Trust’s work has also grown, and today extends to care for and manage the integrated needs of the people of Hamburg and surrounding villages, its ultimate aim the long term health and improved quality of life for every member of the community.
The needs of the community change all the time and it is the vision of the Trust to change and grow to meet them.
The Keiskamma Trust consists of a board of 8 Trustees who oversee the actions and financial operations of the entire organisation.
Board of Trustees:
- Carol Hofmeyr (director of the Keiskamma Trust, doctor, Hamburg)
- John Kincaid (advocate, Grahamstown)
- Nomsi Mei (businesswoman, community leader, Hamburg)
- Mavis Zita (Head Nursing Sister, Hamburg)
- Jan Chalmers (director of Keiskamma Friends, Oxford, UK)
- Novuyani Peyi (Art Management, Community Leader, Hamburg)
- Andrew Hofmeyr (business educator, Johannesburg)
- Annette Woudstra (writer, Hamburg)