Aids centre CEO’s mission

2015-08-25 06:01
Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust’s CEO, Olivia Myeza.
Photo: Matthew Willman

Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust’s CEO, Olivia Myeza. Photo: Matthew Willman

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‘I know I have been sent here for a reason, and put in this position for a reason’

OLIVIA Hope Myeza has been the CEO at Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (Hact) for four years.

She grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and served on the board of a youth-run aid and development organisation, The Oaktree Foundation.

In 2005, she came to South Africa for a three-week study tour to see the projects the Oaktree Foundations supported and funded, a tour that completely transformed her life.

“I laughed more than I’d ever laughed, cried more than I’d ever cried. I felt there was so much life here, so much energy, so much soul and I found it virtually impossible to go home and forget what I’d seen, forget about the suffering, about the orphan generation, about the HIV crisis that was unfolding before the world’s eyes here in this region.”

As a result, Myeza began coming back and doing longer volunteer placements, eventually moving to South Africa in November 2007 and dedicating her life to contributing to the issues facing the country, including HIV/Aids and the orphan generation.

Myeza has faced her own challenges which shaped her to be the person she is today,losing her mother to cancer when she was 14. Today she is married with two children.

Myezaand#039;s role as CEO is incredibly varied. Despite the fact that her day-planner will be full from start to end, she often has little idea of what the day will actually look like once she arrives in the morning.

Her role is predominantly about helping to bring the Hact team together. This involves supporting the management team so they can support their own teams, enabling them to do the work and services they do.

She is also focused on long-term sustainability – continuously looking three to five years into the future and ensuring there is enough funding to survive, including new sources of funding. She has to identify which programmes are going to expand and which are less necessary.

“I know I have been sent here for a reason, and put in this position for a reason, so I try to press ahead trusting that I’ll be able to do the job.”

Being the CEO of such an organisation comes with immense challenges and difficulties.

“Not a day goes by when I’m not inspired – this is the era where we either beat HIV or it beats us. Just to be part of this fight is an inspiration in itself.”

She finds inspiration in all areas of her work. Her hope is to see the HIV crisis controlled and subsequently eradicated during her lifetime – a significant benefit of being a young leader. To be part of this fight inspires her every day. This consistent motivation is also drawn from members of her team which has a team full of passionate people who are from the communities themselves

Ultimately, it is the people she serves who provide her with the most inspiration – the people living with HIV. For Myeza, these people are heroes overflowing with bravery and courage.

Myeza takes a faith-filled approach to the future of the organisation. She trusts that God has plans for their future and this is the way Hact has always grown. If that means growing then they will grow, or if it means staying the same size and going deeper into their programs, then that will be what happens.

One thing Olivia is keen to see is the success and happiness of her staff. As they have come from the communities themselves and are directly impacted by the circumstances of HIV/Aids, she feels it is important for them to break out of the poverty cycle with their families and send a message that change is possible. If Hact can provide people with that platform to serve in this way and create change, then this would be a remarkable success.

“It’s really all in God’s hands and we just want to be obedient to that,” she said.

The best thing for Myeza about working at Hact is that there is such meaning to their work. For her, the team has a family feel to it – like all families they have great, loving relationships and they care about each other but they also face challenges that they must support each other through.

Just knowing that they come to work and are part of positive change is the best thing for her. - Supplied

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