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IHATA Shelter Continues to Support Young Women in the Face of COVID-19

September 22, 2020

Poverty and gender inequality, insufficient access to education and sexual and reproductive health services, and gender-based violence are just a few of the issues that continue to put young women and girls at an increased risk of contracting HIV.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified these issues. As lockdowns are put in place worldwide to slow the spread of the virus, women and girls are often trapped at home with abusive partners or family members, putting them at an increased risk of gender-based violence.

That’s where IHATA Shelter comes in…IHATA Shelter is a (RED)-supported program in Cape Town, South Africa that acts as a refuge to most-at-risk women and girls, providing them with accommodations and opportunities to become self-sufficient and independent.

Ndzuzo Mlandu is a counselor with Partners in Health (PIH), a global health organization that helps implement sexual health education programs at IHATA. As part of their programming, IHATA and PIH offer condom demonstrations, HIV testing, and other prevention products and services to help protect and empower young women in the fight against AIDS.

“If we take these programs away, if we take such activities away from young girls, we will discourage them from being better people and being contributors to our economy and our country,” he says. 

Farieda is a 17-year-old student and mother. After becoming pregnant at 16, she left her grandfather’s home and came to IHATA. She feels encouraged by the programs and services that the shelter provides and eager to use what she’s learned from IHATA to finish her schooling. “I really want to make the best of my life,” she says. “I’m a smart person, and I know I can do it. I’m going to finish my school, so I can give myself and my child a better future.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IHATA has continued to support young women in the local community. IHATA’s sexual reproductive health workshops serve as a critical opportunity to provide HIV testing, care, and PrEP services, ultimately helping to reduce the risk of HIV infections and instill confidence among young women and girls. When you join (RED), you help ensure young women like Farieda have access to live-saving programs like those provided by IHATA.

IHATA Shelter acts as a refuge to most-at-risk women and girls, providing them with accommodations and opportunities to become independent and empowering them in the fight to end AIDS.