In support of Youth Day, OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) has reaffirmed its commitment to partner with young people on HIV and TB prevention in school. ‘Meaningful’ participation is at the heart of this collaboration, which recognises that young people (13-19 years) are not only the beneficiaries of such interventions, but also extremely valuable as proactive leaders in their communities.
To be able to fulfill their inherent potential, young people need to be exposed to knowledge and skills which allow them to make the best possible choices for their lives and futures. Developed by role players, stakeholders and staff, who have a wealth of experience in designing and implementing age, gender and culturally appropriate prevention programmes for young people – the OVSA Schools Programme engages with young people on HIV and AIDS, TB, Life Skills, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender and Human Rights issues.
OVSA is passionate about working with young people for the following reasons:
- most young people become sexually active between 13 and 24;
- most new infections are between 15 and 24, mainly among young women;
- young people’s minds are more receptive to creative and inclusive messaging; and
- young people are our future leaders and role models.
OVSA partners with Grade 8 learners (13-19 years) and implements a dynamic Schools Programme in 15 schools across three KwaZulu-Natal districts. The programme has been developed within the South African context and focuses on critical health issues which place young people at risk. It is appealing to young people because it provides them with a safe environment in which to discuss and address issues which affect their day-to-day lives. Presented to young people in creative ways, the programme combines education, information and creative expression. The programme remains relevant by conducting high quality monitoring and evaluation activities on an ongoing basis. Baseline Survey results from OVSA’s first Longitudinal Intervention Study were recently made public at the 3rd South African TB Conference in Durban.
OVSA is funded among others, by the Canadion International Development Agency (CIDA), the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), OXFAM, the University Reserach Co., LLC (URC), the Iqraa Trust, ABSA, MANCOSA and the Aaron Beare Foundation. This collaborative effort highlights a jointly-held focus on promoting HIV and TB prevention through life skills training and positive peer interaction, which supports young people in making the best choices for healthy lives.
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA), a dynamic NGO partnering with young people on HIV and TB prevention, continues to reach young people (13-19 years) and helping them to take action in their own lives and communities.
Since its inception is 2009, OneVoice South Africa has taken the strong view that young people’s opinions need to be recognised, and incorporated in interventions that directly impact on their lives.
To date, OVSA’s Schools Programme, consisting of a series of 14 in-depth workshops addressing critical health issues – has been welcomed by learners in 15 schools across KwaZulu-Natal. Developed in support of the Department of Educations’ life Orientation Curriculum and the national response to HIV and TB – the workshop content promotes learner understanding and discussion of HIV and AIDS, TB, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender and human rights issues. In particular, it provides learners with a good understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights, basic HIV and TB science, their rights and how to exercise them, as well as other sexual and reproductive health and rights issues.
The programma also engages learners on addressing stigma, clears up myths and misinformation about HIV and AIDS and TB and teaches a number of life skills. The content includes provision for some creative reading, writing and speaking skills – and are also based on skills, knowledge and values development of learners. Correct information is known to increase confidence and empowers young people to assert their rights to dignity, respect and good healthy practises. The Schools Programme workshops are supported with contextualised, age-appropriate and gender and culturally-sensitive learner and facilitator materials. Content is update annually, and has been developed with the help of educational experts, OVSA staff, role players and stakeholders and the learners themselves. Specifically, the OVSA Facilitator Manual and Learner Notebook remain in line with national guidelines, as well as what is experienced on the ground. Excellent guidelines are also provided to OVSA Facilitators, who implement the programma – as well as learner assessment activities.
Concurrently, OVSA, in collaboration with The South African Medical Research Council are receiving a small grant from USAID, managed by the University Resarch Co., LLC. This TB prevention and early detection project is another intervention which provides for critical thinking and decision-making. Ultimately, OVSA and its partners, will continue to support young people to make better choices about critical health, sexuality ans sex, as well as human rights issues; choices that can change their futures for the better.
For more information on OVSA, please visit www.onevoice.org.za or mail email@example.com
In celebration of World AIDS Day 2011, OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) supports the World AIDS Day Campaign theme ‘Getting to Zero; Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, Zero HIV/AIDS related deaths.
OVSA is a dynamic Non-Governmental Organisation that designs and implements a school-based life skills programme which provides young people with a platform to discuss and address HIV and AIDS, TB, life skills, sexual rights and reproductive health and rights, gender and human rights issues.
According to the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2011, South Africa has the biggest HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world, with an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV. However, the report also states that the HIV incident rate is steadily decreasing. Particularly encouraging, is the decrease in HIV prevalence among young women and men due to them adopting safer sexual practices. Making the right choices when it comes to sex is attributed to, amongst other things, a gradual improvement in knowledge about HIV.
The OVSA Schools Programme does just that. Developed by educational experts, with input from learners, teachers and OVSA staff, the programme is aligned to the HIV and AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa, South Africa’s national TB response, as well as the national Life Orientation (LO) syllabus.
Nonetheless, despite the UNAIDS report showing a reduction in the HIV infection rate for young people, it remains much higher for women, than for men. An alarming reason for this is gender-based violence, in particular among partners. The Intimate partner violence, power inequity, and incidence of HIV infection in young women in South Africa: a cohort study, 2010 suggests that out of every seven women contracting HIV, one could have been prevented, if the woman had not been subjected to ‘intimate partner violence.’
It is therefore pivotal, that any programme addressing HIV, also incorporate gender, gender-based violence and human rights issues. This is so that girls and boys know their rights and how to protect them, as well as to create awareness about behaviours that perpetuate gender based violence.
With TB being the number one killer in South Africa, and HIV positive people being particularly vulnerable, it is vital that there be an integrated approach to HIV and TB; something which is still inadequate in South Africa. OVSA supports this and recognises the need for a holistic and integrated programme that better equips young people to deal with the dual epidemic, increases knowledge, changes attitudes and challenges harmful beliefs, as well as imparts life skills in support of healthier futures. In 2011 alone, OVSA reached 4161 learners.
Students are encouraged to spread the word and take action, by translating what they have learnt in the classroom and implementing this as an Advocacy Project in their community. This is where they now become the teacher to their peers, using the life skills they have learnt, and in turn, provide the groundwork for sustainable behaviour change for generations to come.
By engaging in this proactive role, students are re-enforcing what they have learnt, creating awareness around critical health issues, as well as challenging others to question and get involved. It is through young people taking a central role in their own stories and sharing their experiences and knowledge, that knowledge is spread, attitudes and harmful beliefs are changed, and healthier decisions are taken. If South Africa is to get to zero, programmes which equip young people with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions, as well as influence communities to do the same – need to be intensified. OVSA is committed to working towards this goal one workshop and one learner, at a time.
If you would like to learn more about OVSA or sponsor a school for one year, please visit
www.onevoice.org.za or call on +27 (0)31 202 0555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In support of National Recycling Week last month and World AIDS Day, Expand a Sign are trying to create awareness about the benefits of recycling and show that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of young South Africans through partnership ventures. A leader on portable branding, Expand a Sign is very conscious of the environmental effects associated with manufacturing, and has re-committed to their Environmental and Social Responsibility Pledge.
A recent joint-venture with OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) on encouraging healthy lifestyles and behaviour – proved a unique opportunity for Expand a Sign to show their support of young people engaging on issues of positive living and healthy lifestyles. OVSA is a vibrant and unique non-governmental organisation that actively engages with young people on HIV prevention in school. The programme provides young people with the platform to discuss and address a number of topical issues, including HIV and AIDS, life skills, sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights.
Expand a Sign recently joined OVSA at King Shaka Secondary School in Umlazi, to present 40 learners with a certificate and a drawstring bag in recognition of their completing the OVSA Schools Programme. Expand a Sign donated 15 000 school bags (made of polyester off-cuts from their banners) which were hailed jubilantly by the learners. A brief speech by the OVSA Facilitator, Nontobeko Mbatha, was followed by names being called out and each child going forward to collect their certificate and school bag. “We are so grateful for organisations like Expand a Sign and OVSA for taking an interest in our youth and making a difference in their lives,” said Grade 8 teacher, Mr Mkhize.
Earlier this month, Expand a Sign also supported the launch of a small home-based business run by a group of previously unemployed women, who now sew shopping bags, sports bags and raincoats from their waste fabric.
For more information on the work Expand a Sign does, please contact Amy Lawrence on +27 (0)31 2072327 or visit www.expandasign.net
For more information on the work OVSA does, or to schedule an interview with the OVSA Managing Director, Dr Josianne Roma-Reardon, please call Marlijn van Berne on +27 (0)31 2020555 or email Marlijn at email@example.com
South Africa is currently battling the devastating effects of a dual HIV/TB epidemic, which accounts for 28 percent of the world’s people living with both HIV and TB(1). TB rates appear to have increased in all age groups; although the most marked increases appear to be among persons aged 15–44 years, the age group most at risk of acquisition of HIV infection. Regionally, Africa’s TB rates are increasing, with some 1500 TB deaths every day. Tragically and avoidably, 10% of these are children (2).
Addressing TB and its devastating impact on South Africa’s population, health, and education systems, as well as the economy, is far from easy. The high incidence of HIV/TB co-infection, too little knowledge of the risks and symptoms of the disease and delayed access to treatment, are fuelling the epidemic. In addition, frequent non-adherence to treatment regimens, means that more strains of drug-resistant TB are developing.
Young people are especially vulnerable to infection, as they move from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. This is a time of great risk, as well as opportunity. Prevention efforts focusing on young people, need to build public awareness through targeted campaigns, such as the OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) SCHOOLS PROGRAMME and the Department of Health’s “Kick TB Campaign.” – Both these campaigns aim to engage learners on what places them at risk and living healthy lives. Programme content also focuses on reducing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and TB, by providing gender-sensitive and age-appropriate health education and disease-prevention information, skills and services. OVSA is a dynamic non-governmental organisation, which uses creative ways of actively involving school learners (13-19 years) on health and prevention issues. Aside from providing them with a platform to discuss and address sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights issues, the initiative also aims to improve awareness of TB/HIV, support a reduction in HIV and TB transmission, decrease stigma, and empower young people so they can prioritise their health.
For more information on the OVSA Schools Programme, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or Marlijn van Berne on +27 (0)31 2020555.
1) Global tuberculosis control – epidemiology, strategy, financing, WHO Report 2009.
2) AMREF website.
The dire need to improve the capacity of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risks of HIV infection, was recently highlighted by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) in a report which is to be submitted to the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting ‘2011 Declaration on HIV/AIDS.’
The report reaffirms South Africa’s commitment to the prevention, treatment, care and support of HIV, AIDS and TB in South Africa and globally. It also suggests that measures to address the disproportionate vulnerability of women and girls should include “integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health in health care and health services and prevention education that promotes gender equality and eradicate women and girls vulnerability.”
In South Africa, most young people become sexually active between 13 and 24 years, and most new infections are between 15 and 24 years, mainly among young women. According to Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Professor in Public Health and Family Medicine at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, “by the age of 20, one in three women is already infected with HIV. By the time they are 25, it’s one in two.”
This is a devastating fact faced by many young South African women on a daily basis. SANAC’s input into the declaration highlights the importance of developing and accelerating the implementation of national strategies that promote the advancement of women and girls, and eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls. It also reiterates the importance of prevention education that promotes gender equality.
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) is a local NGO which offers such a dynamic strategy to young people. Through their in-depth Schools Programme, they offer appropriate and targeted life-skills education in the classroom to Grade 8 learners (ages 13-19 years). Educational content and materials have been developed by educational experts and key stakeholders (including parents/caregivers and learners) and focus on HIV, TB, life skills, sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights information, as well as the opportunity and capacity to develop activities that increase HIV and TB awareness in their schools and communities.
What also makes OVSA stand out is their commitment to meaningful participation of and partnership with young people. Consulted on an ongoing basis on the various planning and implementation stages (materials are pre-tested with learners from participating schools), young people provide critical input that keeps the Schools Programme relevant, culturally-gender sensitive as well as age-appropriate.
Through programmes such as the Schools Programme, local organisations can support a national response such as the one SANAC envisages. With a joint focus on developing and delivering innovative educational strategies South Africa role players and stakeholders should be able to support the empowerment of women and girls on matters related to their sexuality and increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV and TB infection.
Young South Africans continue to push healthcare issues onto the national agenda, and their commitment to change is proving pivotal to building a healthy nation.
The overriding feeling among HIV prevention and health education programmes, globally and nationally, is that young people themselves send a clear and unambiguous message. They want their health and well-being, and that of their peers, to be taken seriously. The era where young people were ‘seen but not heard’ is no longer, and the inherent power of their emerging voices is proving a powerful tool for change.
And rightly so. By giving them a voice, young people can and will initiate change. Many already lead by example in their communities, thereby investing in the next generation, who in turn will be skilled and able to support sustainable change over time.
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) is a non-governmental organisation that recognises the right of young people to honest, accurate information, it shows respect for young people as individuals capable of making good decisions when provided with all the tools, and it stresses the responsibility of adults to provide those tools and for young people to use them.
Developed by role players and stakeholders (including educational experts, young people, parents/caregivers and teachers), OVSA offers a vibrant, age-appropriate, Schools Programme, which recognises the strong relationship between education and positive reproductive health behaviours. In partnership with young people and contextualised to their needs, the programme is also aligned to the HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa (NSP 2007-2011), the Tuberculosis Strategic Plan for South Africa (2007-2011) and the National Life Orientation curriculum.
It ultimately seeks to support young people (13-19 years) in making informed decisions about health and lifestyle, expand their knowledge on HIV and HIV/TB co-infection and promote early detection. Supported with life skills tools and a platform to speak out, school learners actively engage on critical health issues; their opinions and perceptions having provided the foundation to designing an effective prevention programmes for young people.
Rolled out in 44 schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, the programme uses a participatory approach to engage with Grade 8 learners. Programme activities guide learners through a series of workshops on HIV and TB prevention, comprehensive sex education and life skills, as well as advocacy, gender and human rights issues. The aim is to address barriers to behaviour change and devising solutions to those barriers. OVSA’s vision encourages learners to believe in their ability to positively influence their own futures and those of their loved ones, while part of the national HIV and TB response.
OVSA is part-funded by the inter church organisation for development co-operation (ICCO), Oxfam, the Belgian Development Agency, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Mindset Health.
If you would like to learn more about OVSA or sponsor a school for one year, please visit:
www.onevoice.org.za or call on +27 (0)31 202 0555 or email email@example.com.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S ABILITY TO MOVE BEYOND HIV VULNERABILITY!
1 December 2010
2010 marks the 22nd anniversary of World AIDS Day. Every year on the first of December, people the world over come together to remember loved ones who have passed, and to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. This year’s theme is Universal Access and Human Rights – an appropriate topic considering the huge strides young people have made in terms of engaging on HIV prevention and human rights.
Nonetheless, young people are still viewed as ‘vulnerable’ because they are seen neither as children, nor uninformed adults, but rather as young people on a journey from childhood to adulthood; which is considered a time of great risk. Nonetheless, this ‘vulnerability’ often also provides the fertile soil from which ‘ability’ flourishes. Young South Africans are in fact, brave and inspiring. They bring boundless energy, passion and fresh ideas to the table, and their commitment to advocating for change is critical to building a healthy tomorrow. The exclusion of young people from strategic planning and policy development is therefore no longer an option. In recognition of the valuable contribution they can make, an increasing number of HIV prevention programmes are now partnering with young people.
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) is a vibrant and innovative non-governmental organisation that recognises the importance of partnering with young South Africans on HIV and AIDS prevention. OVSA especially believes in partnering with young people 13-19 years, as they are not only the emerging leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today. “If one allows young people to vocalise their needs and they can address their concerns with the appropriate tools – then young people can have a profound impact on their own lives and those of their loved ones” said OVSA Communication and Fundraising Manager, Marlijn van Berne.
The OVSA School Programme provides young people with an in-depth, school-based, series of workshops that includes comprehensive sex education and life skills. Great emphasis is placed on ‘meaningful participation’ and this in turn encourages learners to believe in their ability to positively influence their futures. The programme is age-appropriate, culturally-sensitive and delivered through participatory learning activities. Supporting materials, developed with input from young people, are aligned to the HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa (NSP 2007-2011) and the National Life Orientation syllabus.
OVSA is funded by: USAID/Johns Hopkins University Project South Africa; ICCO, Oxfam and the DG Murray Trust. For more information on the work OVSA does, or to schedule an interview with the OVSA Managing Director, Dr Josianne Roma-Reardon, please call Marlijn van Berne on +27 (0)31 2020555 or email Marlijn at firstname.lastname@example.org
30 September 2010
Around the world, more and more programmes are now partnering with young people on HIV prevention, as they are in the best position to inform their peers about what places them at risk. By providing young people with the appropriate platform and information, they can voice their concerns, and initiate change. “What is so amazing about the OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) Schools Programme is that our learners are using what they have learnt in class, to address issues of concern outside of the classroom; in their own communities,” said OVSA Managing Director, Dr Josianne Roma-Reardon.
OVSA is a vibrant non-governmental organisation which uses creative ways to engage with young people, 13-19 years, on HIV and AIDS prevention. The inclusion of life skills such as negotiation, decision-making and a basic understanding of HIV and AIDS – as well as human rights, gender issues and what constitutes good sexual health – supports young people in making healthy lifestyle choices. The school-based programme is offered in 74 schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Learner uptake and participation is at the core of the School Programme’s success. “If we can support where necessary, and inform young people about HIV and AIDS, and can understand their perceptions and identify concerns – then we can support them to mobilise their peers and communities around disease awareness, , reduction of stigma and isolation, resource mobilisation and advocacy to protect their health” said OVSA Communication & Media Manager, Marlijn van Berne.
Monthly learner feedback highlights areas of concern, but also of success: recently, an OVSA learner from KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, approached a Facilitator after a workshop on Basic HIV and AIDS information. He brought along his older brother, whom he felt did not know how to use a condom correctly. The learner asked the Facilitator if she could teach his brother about correct and consistent condom use, as he entertained many myths about condoms and was not practicing safe sex. The Facilitator then arranged a time for a condom demonstration and some informal education around safe sex. The learner reported that after the activity, his brother felt so empowered that he immediately changed his mindset and started practicing safe sex. The learner told the Facilitator that he was very happy as he now knew that his brother could protect himself and his loved ones. Like this learner and his brother, many young people are leading by example in their communities. By doing so they are investing in the next generation, who will then be skilled and able to support sustainable change over time.
If you are interested in learning more about the great work that is being done with young South Africans or, if you would like to support the OVSA Schools Programme, please visit the OVSA website at www.onevoice.org.za or call for more information on +27 (0)31 202 0555.
OVSA is funded by: USAID/Johns Hopkins University Project South Africa, ICCO, Oxfam International and the D.G. Murray Trust.
16 June 2010
For National Youth Day, OneVoice South Africa (OVSA) learners in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape honoured young people affected by the unrelenting effects of HIV and AIDS. Reaching out in partnership with OVSA – a dynamic non-governmental organisation working in schools to support a reduction in new HIV infections – learners wished to acknowledge the many young South Africans who are faced with the ongoing realities of losing parents/caregivers and family members.
OVSA learners arrived at the Ramakrishna Ethembeni Home to distribute clothes to orphans as part of their Schools Programme Advocacy Project. These projects play a pivotal role in the development of young people as it allows them the opportunity to discuss and identify HIV and AIDS related issues and other problems that affect them and the communities they live in. “Giving back to the community brings great satisfaction”, said an OVSA learner. (more…)