Nkamanzi Community Info Centre – the first of its kind in Swaziland

Nkamanzi Community Info CentreUnder blue skies, Nkamanzi community members and dignitaries from Swaziland gathered on Thursday 15 March 2012 at the Nkamanzi Royal Kraal to launch a community-based information centre. Situated in the community's centrally-located KaGogo centre, the Nkamanzi Community Info Centre provides access to a variety of information resources on HIV/AIDS and related health topics.

The launch event was graced by the presence of the Honorable Minister of Tinkhundla Administration and Development, Mr Rogers Mamba. Chief Gija of Nkamanzi, the Deputy Chief of Mission - US Embassy, the Executive Director of NERCHA, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries and representatives of supporting organizations joined the community in celebrating the opening of the information centre.

Mr Rogers Mamba, Swaziland Minister of Tinkhundla Administration and DevelopmentThe Nkamanzi Info Centre

The Master of Ceremonies, Mr Richard Phungwayo, welcomed guests and expressed his excitement that information resources will be available in a rural setting that would "have all the sophistication that facilities in towns have". Other speakers also expressed their commitment to support the Nkamanzi Community Info Centre and to lobby for an Internet connection and other services.

Community member Joy Shabangu, who first had the vision for such a resource in Nkamanzi and approached the NERCHA Info Centre several years ago, voiced her wish to see similar initiatives throughout Swaziland, Africa and the rest of the world. She also encouraged her fellow community members to make the most of the new info centre.

Also speaking at the launch, the Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy, Mr Craig Cloud, commended the efforts and dedication of various individuals and organizations, highlighting the critical role that people play in sharing information.

Dr Derek Von Wissel, Executive Director of NERCHA, explained the uniqueness of the KaGogo centre model and how it is geared towards supporting information sharing within communities in Swaziland. He also congratulated Chief Gija on his initiative and leadership. Dr Von Wissel concluded to say that he urges the Minister to encourage other local chiefs to initiate similar efforts in their communities.

Chief Gija welcomed guests and thanked the organizers and supporters for "believing in the Nkamanzi community's dream" and invited guests to visit the centre continually to measure its progress and use.

To celebrate the opening of the new centre, local youth entertained guests with dancing, songs and poetry. Following the festivities, guests visited the new centre and enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by local women with ingredients contributed by Nkamanzi residents.

Funded by PEPFAR/Swaziland, the Nkamanzi Info Centre has been set up by the Southern African HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) with technical support from the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project and the National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA).

Volunteers who will be offering assistance to Info Centre visitorsWomen from Nkamanzi, preparing a meal for guests