Here's the link to Topsy's official website and here's a link to their award-winning commercial.

Bright and early the morning after landing in South Africa, we bussed off to Topsy Foundation. We drove for a few hours, seemingly to the middle of nowhere, until we reached a small village. There, we all sat in a boardroom, drank some tea/coffee and had a talk with several of the prominent members (and I quickly realized that central heating was nonexistent...) about how Topsy began and the work they do now.

Topsy provides free ARV treatment and also has a free clinic with several physicians. They also provide psychosocial help for those who require it, and send food parcels to those in aid. Their funding is mostly from the government (PEPFAR, the South African government, and others), private donations, and selling small merchandise.

One of the coolest things about Topsy was their Vegetable Garden project (part of their Community Outreach Program). In a partnership with the Food Gardens Foundation, Topsy set up vegetable gardens on people's front yards, and then taught them how to maintain their gardens. This is important because, in their own words, "a person who has not eaten cannot be given medication, whilst a child who has not eaten cannot learn."

During the presentation, somebody asked if they knew of a stigma with being HIV positive - did their patients ever discuss it? Were people ever ashamed to be coming in to the clinic? The answer was a pretty solid no; their had been a stigma at the outbreak of this disease, but there wasn't anymore. This was interesting, because no other clinic or hospital said the same thing - in fact, they said the exact opposite.

We were also able to take a tour of the facility with Dr. Susan Preller, one of the major founders of Topsy. I, of course, took a bunch of pictures, that you can check out here:

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