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Table Mountain Cableway Joins Hands With The Community

By Kim Cloete
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Several hundred community health workers and staff from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) at Stellenbosch University celebrated a near perfect autumn day as they took the cable car up Table Mountain, many of them for the first time.

Nurses, counsellors, fieldworkers and researchers working in the field of TB and HIV prevention took a break from the cares and worries of the working day to head up the mountain.

There was great excitement as the cable cars started moving, particularly as it was the first time many people in the group had made the trip to the top of Table Mountain.

“It’s a great boost for us all, and I’m loving the fresh air and the mountain,” said nurse, Barbara Doman.

Blia Yang, one of the project managers at the DTTC, said it took several buses and a lot of planning to get 350 people up the mountain, but it had been worthwhile because of the pleasure it had brought people.

She said the day had been organized to say thank you for the hard work and commitment staff had shown in their work in Western Cape communities trying to reduce the high rate of HIV and TB.

Many of the fieldworkers spend their days going from door to door in communities in and around Cape Town and in the Cape Winelands areas in which they work, often in blazing heat or driving rain. They do home-based HIV counseling and testing as well as screening for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections. They also provide condoms and refer people to nearby clinics where they receive medication and treatment.

The DTTC is involved in a range of studies, including HIV prevention, voluntary HIV counseling and testing, research into preventing, diagnosing and treating TB in children and doing operational research to improve health services.

“For many South Africans, it is a lifetime dream to stand on top of Table Mountain, and we try to help wherever we can,” said the Managing Director of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Sabine Lehmann, who donated 100 tickets to the DTTC for the day.

Lehmann said she supported work done in communities.

“I think true power lies at community level. We need to harness this and work together to build a country we are proud of.”