The University honoured two successful alumni, with the UJ Alumni Dignitas Awards on Friday, 25 November 2011.
From left to right : Prof Roy Marcus: Chairperson of Council, University of Johannesburg, Ms Sibongile (Bongi) Mkhabela (recipient) , Dr Duduzile Rosemary Mkhize (recipient), Mr Thomas Louw De Beer(recipient), Prof Ihron Rensburg: Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Johannesburg and Dr Carol Hofmeyr (recipient).
Dr Hofmeyr combines the skills of two very different genres in order to empower and enrich hundreds of people's lives in South Africa's Eastern Cape.
In 2000, she, as a medical doctor and a profoundly talented artist, initiated the Keiskamma Art Project with the aim of alleviating poverty and promoting self-esteem through art and creativity in this rural community.
While engaged in this project, she became intensely aware of the huge problem of HIV/AIDS in the area and of the many people dying without a diagnosis or any form of medical care.
Although she had been out of clinical practice for many years, she went back to work as a primary care medical officer in the Peddie South District clinics. Because people were either too ill or too poor to access the health system, she established a residential HIV programme in Hamburg on the Keiskamma estuary, by converting an old house into an AIDS treatment facility, which she named the Umtha Welanga (Rays of the Sun) Centre.
Dr Hofmeyr went on to train a team of over 30 village health workers to cover the entire area with support and advice on HIV/AIDS. She introduced antiretroviral therapy, initially using her own limited funds, and has established a model programme for the prevention, treatment, palliation and care of people with HIV/AIDS.
The Keiskamma Trust has been highly successful. The Trust believes that the battle against HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa cannot be won by medical intervention alone. The Keiskamma Trust exists to foster hope and health as well as pride and self-respect among the people living by the Keiskamma River, a desperately poor area of the Eastern Cape. By combining AIDS treatment, art projects such as the Keiskamma Altarpiece and the Keiskamma Tapestry and education initiatives, the Trust has been able to take the fight against Poverty and HIV/AIDS to the very heart of the community.