clima SEO Service Sun, 02 Jun 2019 18:52:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 clima 32 32 121456100 Psycho-Social Support (Sexual Assault)- Project Empower Wed, 25 Apr 2018 10:35:27 +0000 Project Empower, is an organisation that is working towards strengthening community responsiveness to HIV and has a range of interventions directed to achieving organisational goals. One of these interventions is the Psycho-Social Support (PSS) which is provided to survivors of sexual assault. In this regard, Project Empower is in partnership with an organisation called MATCH which refers survivor to the organisation. The survivors are seen by our social workers in health facilities and during home visits.

Our Social workers work with   survivors of sexual violence using their structured and carefully designed PSS model. Depending on the needs for other social services, social workers can further refer their clients to further assistance such as HIV counselling, Department of Social Development, Department of Social Justice, Department of Home Affairs etc.   This is the repetition of what is been said above. Furthermore, social workers conduct random awareness talks about Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in facilities they work in as part of the one stop service provision.

Facilities which Project Empower work in.

Sub district Facility name
South Umnini clinic
Umbumbulu clinic
Kwamakhutha clinic
Illovu clinic
Umlazi U21 clinic
Umlazi K
North Ntuzuma Clinic
KwaMashu-B Clinic
KwaMashu CHC
Inanda CHC
Inanda Seminar Clinic
Lindelani Clinic
Newtown-A CHC
Goodwins Clinic
Amaoti Clinic
 Already mentioned above
West Klaarwater Clinic
Pinetown Clinic
Mpumalanga Clinic


To get the PSS with regards to sexual assault and staying around the above mentioned facilities you can contact us on :

  • Project Empower Offices:    0313103565
  • Nomsa Ndlovu, Social Worker:     0736588933
  • Thabile Majola, Social Worker:     0719374356

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Knowledge- a tool for strengthening the response to HIV Tue, 06 Mar 2018 09:01:17 +0000 Knowledge is a powerful weapon that can be used to change the world and it is the surest basis of public happiness. In increasing the response to HIV and AIDS, Project Empower puts knowledge as a corner stone to improving lives. Through proving consciousness raising workshops, knowledge is shared among peers of different age groups.
According to statistics South Africa 2016, the estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately 12, 7% of the total South African population. The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 7, 03 million in 2016. For adults aged 15–49 years, an estimated 18, 9% of the population is HIV positive. HIV prevalence in informal settlements weighs a high percentage rate because of different high levels of factors including extremely poor living conditions, unemployment, poverty, gender norms, gender based violence, lack of health care facilities , education etc. Therefore it is for this among many other reasons that Project Empower targets informal settlements to implement Stepping Stones.

To strengthen the response to HIV and AIDS Project Empower implement stepping stones which is a workshop series designed as a tool to help promote sexual health, improve psychological well-being and prevent HIV. In these workshops collectively people of the same age groups are voluntarily gathered together in numbers of 20 per class. Stepping Stones consist of sessions that are coherent; the sessions build on the previous one. They are intended to change people’s behavior and perceptions based on a group agreed decisions that fit to that communities ways of healthy living.

Stepping Stones sessions are coherent in the following manner:

• Session A: Let’s Communicate.
• Session B: How we act.
• Session C: Sex and love.
• Session D: Conception and contraception.
• Session E: HIV
• Session F: Safer Sex and caring in a time of AIDS.
• Session G: Gender Based Violence.
• Session H: Let’s Support Ourselves.
• Session I: Let’s Assert Ourselves.
• Session J: Let’s Look Deeper.

There is no doubt that our workshops were effective. Participants of stepping stones have had changes and improvements that they perceive in their lives as a result of stepping stones workshops. They report changes in their relationships, families, around the community and even their own personal mindset. On a one on one interview, participants were asked the following questions but not limited to:

• How can you describe your experience during the workshop?
• What is it that your think you gained in the workshop?
• Do you think the workshops can be a useful tool to improve lives of our societies?
• Are there other comments you would like to say about Project Empower approach to tackle social ills?

There were different interesting responses to these questions and since the program was over people were interested to know when the next program commences because they want to bring in their families and friends to get the opportunity. People acknowledge the power of knowledge in changing the society we live in and therefore they realize the importance of consciousness raising platforms.
Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into action. The strategy of making communities generate their own knowledge regarding their own ways of living ascertains the better action results. People are less hypocritical to things that have been developed or generated by them. We know and stay hopeful that whatever they discussed and agreed upon during classes will be put into practice.
in addition to Stepping Stones sessions, we conduct a Gender Based Violence session which are run by our social workers.
During this session social workers educate participants about GBV and

Following are direct quotations of some of interviewed participants.
“I learned a lot that I did not know. When I am with my peers we do not usually talk about things that really influence our everyday lives, we usually talk about parties and boyfriends. For the first time I got to seriously engage with my peers about social issues that really affect us. I think these workshops can be used to change societies and we thank Project Empower for bringing knowledge to us” Nolwazi Shiba from ward 59 (Amaotana).

Ignorance together with negligence are other most contributing factors that play a major role in the perpetuation of Gender Based Violence, HIV and AIDS, abuse and unhealthy society. Both young males and females from informal settlements and rural areas are the most victims of GBV and other social ills but they are less likely to be found discussing about them and trying to find solutions. The most prevalent discussions they have are parties and unhealthy relationships.

Through stepping stones people have learn to take responsibility and value the impact of curiosity and have realised that in order to build a healthy and peaceful society they should together construct their own accepted ways of living as a whole community.

“Previously I had no direction. I really hadn’t worked out what I wanted in life, I had no goals, and I was just a lady who lives in the moment. Through attending Steeping Stones classes I’ve had to think deeper about my life and develop goals for myself. I’ve never thought about getting tested before but after learning about HIV&AIDS I went to get tested. After seeing the usefulness of these classes, I even told my brother to join other classes that were for males” Nomusa Ngobese ward 59(Amaotana).

Many people have incorrect knowledge about HIV and AIDS, they just thing that if you have tested positive then your living days are numbered and their lives will change which result in them being scared to even check their status. After doing session E of Stepping Stone they become aware that HIV is not a death sentence anymore and people with HIV are not different from those who do not.

“The experience I had was amazing because I learned a lot that I didn’t know. Everything we discussed is of much value and influences our daily lives for instance my boyfriend used to beat me every time we had a misunderstanding and I accepted it because I believed it’s because he loved me. Through the discussions we had during classes I realised I was being abused and I told him that if he ever beat me again I will report him to the policy. We agreed that from now onwards we are going to sit as adults and talk about problems if there are any. He will never beat me again if he knows what’s good for him. I also wish that programs like these run in all wards because I know there are some other people who need help just like I do” Nqobile Nyandeni from ward 59 Amaoti.

“I used to think that we experience things and find ourselves in different painful situations because God had planned it for us and therefore had no control of. I was not a type of person that would take action against violence and any form of abuse. If a person had come to me and tell me they have being raped I would have advised them to pray. I knew there were certain judicial measures that can be taken but my mindset was to always pin everything to God. These classes assisted me in seeing the reality and be prepared how to deal with experiences i encounter. We even learn about HIV and forms of abuse and also relevant doors to knock to if you have experienced any kind of abuse. It wasn’t really a waste of time for me” Sosibo Nqilini from ward 23.

There are many cases of abuse that are not reported due to people’s lack of knowledge and their personal interpretation of life and the experiences of it. Culture and religion somehow also play a role in the perpetuation of social problems. Finding standard normative for communities regardless of religion and culture is imperative to eliminate many social ills. Things that people hear on their daily basis are the most influential when it comes to understanding life and its implications

“I learn that you need to report any kind of abuse you experience because it needs to be dealt with psychologically otherwise it will unconsciously affect the way you behave and relate to other people. These workshop helped me even take steps in helping a young girl in my neighbourhood who for a long time has been a victim of abuse but we did nothing about that as neighbours. We were scared and kept watching on our little corners. The young girl used to sleep outside because her mother was beating her up and even chase her out some days. After having attended these workshops we reached a consensus to report the matter to the CCG (community care giver) and so the matter was followed and handled properly”

The story above was told by an older lady Bathabile Shezi from ward 72. She and her entire neighbourhood had witnessed abuse for a long time but because of ignorance and how self-centred they had become they did not want to involve themselves in other people’s business. In a conversation Bathabile mentioned that it was through a discussion they had during their workshop that she decided not to sit down any more about the abuse she had witnessed for quite a long time.

One of elders who were interviewed said that they had an amazing experience during workshops because in addition to discussing about many things including questioning their own parenting styles but they also got to reconcile with each other. In a long time they had been despising one another across their neighbourhood because of some personal problems and they hadn’t got a platform where they can solve their issues. This ended up being a barrier to effective relationships they should have as people of the same neighbourhood. It had passed on even to their children.

To alter systems in our societies, its best to provide platforms where by communities’ people question the existing system of normative standards and find new and accommodating ways of living. That being said Stepping Stones workshops provided opportunities for participants to examine their values and attitudes towards gender and relationship, to build on their knowledge on aspects of sexuality and HIV&AIDS and to develop skills to help them communicate with others and ensure that other people know exactly what they want.


Knowledge Officer

Menzi Hlabisa

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Changing Gender norms Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:49:36 +0000 Changing gender norms

As an organisation devoted in strengthening the response to HIV, changing gender norms is one of our objectives. This is because gender norms perpetuate HIV in a sense that they are bias and they oppress empower one sex. Females are oppressed by gender norms which make them vulnerable to male domination. In that way males are given power to do as they please to women because it is an acceptable thing to the society.

Through Stepping Stones workshops (a workshop series designed as a tool to help promote sexual health, improve psychological well-being and prevent HIV) and community dialogues (An interactive participatory communication process of sharing information between community members aimed at reaching fair and common understanding of gender based violence) we have been successful in fulfilling our objectives of changing gender norms.

Stories below illustrate how some of our participants have changed their behaviour in relation to gender stereotypes.

Nkosinathi Gazu

Nkosinathi Gazu is a 19-year-old boy from ward 11(Quarry Heights) which is one of Durban sub areas. The area is largely dominated by informal settlements with a population estimate of more than 52.566 population number.
Nkosinathi is wild boy who is well known for his soccer skills which makes him spent much of his time with his friends playing or watching soccer games. Meanwhile here sister Thembi does all the inside tasks like cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. Throughout growing Nkosinathi’s knew that his jobs were to wash a car and clean the yard if it happens to be dirty as told by his parents who are very culturally embedded. They raise their children in cultural old ways that promote gender inequality.

Until November after Nkosinathi attended Stepping Stones workshop his behaviour started changing. “I have begun assisting my sister with washing dishes and is learning to cook when I returns from my soccer practise”. Through Stepping Stones, he was able to evaluate and question himself and his behaviour in relation to the gender roles and gender inequality “I have realized we are enslaving my sister and she has blood too, she gets tired too”.
In promoting gender equality and changing gender norms, we are reducing HIV because women are no longer seen as slaves and subordinates of men. That decreases the level of vulnerability of women that is course by the old traditional stereotypes.

Mxolisi’s story

Mxolisi is a 42 years old father who does EPWP job in eThekwini municipality. He is a father to 3 children and a husband to Nomathemba whom they live with in a four room house at Quarry heights (ward 11). Despite of Quarry Heights being an area dominated by informal settlements because of poverty Mxolisi managed to build a four room house for his family. The community has different challenges including crime, poverty and violence.
As per family activities Nomathemba takes care of the children and house duties like cleaning and cooking. “I’ve always known that when I get home after work I have to find food prepared for me and would take no excuses because I fulfil my duty which is to provide finances to the family” Mxolisi said.

Attending our community dialogue which addresses the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in communities help Mxolisi change his way of thinking towards gender roles.” I gained so much that it made me see how oppressive I am to my partner. I have started helping out with some of house duties for instance cooking and cleaning” he said
As a vastly challenged area, community members in Quarry Heights are always summoned to community meetings to discuss about those particular challenges.

Men are always scarce and they usually hide behind excuses. Mxolisi has been part of those men, he “came to this meeting because I was bored”. Nomathemba has been the only one attending community meetings in their household “only to realise I was missing out on great things that can make our homes and community a better place” also been the one attending these meetings”.

Mxolisi realisation of his oppressiveness to her woman help in the reduction of HIV in that it promotes equality and provides a room for men as oppressors to change their mind sets towards women. His experience also helps promote participation of men in the struggle of building healthy communities that are free from crime, abuse and violence.

Gender norms has contributed largely to the perpetuation of HIV because it has remained not transformed regardless of the change in the conditions of the world. Our workshops, including community dialogues assist in transforming and rectifying those disproportional social stereotypes by empowering both males and female to question the existing stigmas in relation to current reality.

Menzi Hlabisa: Knowledge Officer

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16 days of Activism Fri, 09 Feb 2018 08:02:00 +0000 16 days of activism: Mkabayi


09 February 2018

On the 25 of October 2017 Mkabayi team embarked on an international campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence aimed at challenging violence against women. In response to this, Mkabayi team organised and conducted activism campaigns with all their groups which are aimed at addressing issues of violence against women in their contextual communities. Mkabayi also partnered with local community based organisations in some other events that are part of 16 days of activism campaign.

One of them include Iziko Lama Gama which is an arts and culture community based organisation that is primarily concerned with empowering local artists at Umlazi community. Their participation on Sixteen days of activism was to address women issues in an artistic way which involve poetry, music dance and other forms of art.
The manner in which the events were organised was fascinating as it was a different way from the usual methods of addressing women and children issues which is about empowering women to take a stand against their own abuse. The event took place in three different forms: first being for men only where they discuss on their own about women issues and role they can play in ensuring women and children safety, the second was for women only and they also discuss issues around women abuse.

The third event needed a much more open space because it was a compose of both men and women. The purpose of this setting was so that both the perpetrators and the subjects of violence have a discussion on gender based violence and together find solutions on the roles men in particular can play in decreasing incidences of violence directed to women.
This was a better platform to address the issue of women because men are usually partially seen in events that are specifically organised for issues of GBV. The discussion was very effective because we got to hear from both side of the subjects and perpetrators their take on GBV. During this session there was a lot of argument that arose as people tried to defend their sex.

Women were robustly challenging men with different primary stigmas that perpetuate GBV for instance gender roles, social norms and gender equality. Even though it is not easy to alter the mind set of people regarding their beliefs especially when those believes are embedded in a person’s growth and culture but through robust and rational engagement the people began to agree with one another on certain social stigmas. For instance, that both men and women in a relationship are equal and no one is bound to succumb to the other.
There was a small debate between Mkabayi team representatives and the men side representatives. The debate arose from a view that women somehow play a role in being the subjects of violence. This notion was supported by that many women don’t value men who don’t beat them because of the traditionally internalised idea of the definition of a man.

Some important quotations from the panel.

“women perpetuate abuse by not reporting for the first time of abuse because if you tolerate it for the first time it becomes likely to be persistence because you have shown you can understand”
“women do not ask themselves to be beaten or raped so it is not true they play some role in GBV”
“women should not be blamed for rape because of how they wear, even long ago women wore only a goat skin on their private part and the whole body remained exposed but there were no cases of rape”

The measurement of an effective dialogue is the extent to which each part is willing to change as a result of it. However, what we witnessed on the 2nd of December is a stepping stone for changing people perception about women. The struggle for women emancipation relies on the ability of both parties to involving in a robust discourse just as how it happened on black emancipation in South Africa.


Menzi Hlabisa: Knowledge Officer

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Khanyisile Ntsenge: Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Manager
02 July 2017

“A young mosquito, having recently learned how to fly decided to explore the world. Upon returning home, the mosquito narrated to its parent the adventures it had been on during the day. Most exciting to the young mosquito was how when it flew into a house, people clapped. The parent mosquito’s face turned from one of happiness into one of concern and distress. The parent shouted at the little mosquito to never leave the house or to leave the house only when accompanied by the parent mosquito”.

On a chilly day at a Lindelani community church thirty-two (32) 15-19 year old women listen to the story. The story is narrated by Gugu Msimang, a young woman in her early thirties who facilitates Stepping Stones for Project Empower under the DREAMS programme.

While Gugu has facilitated nine sessions dealing with various gender norms issues – including sex and love, conception and contraception, HIV, Safer Sex and Gender Based Violence – the group of young women is particularly engaged by the topic on communication. In particular, the young women are interested in understanding how to navigate communication with parents who seemingly disregard their voices.

Key questions are:
• How should parents speak to children?
• How should children speak to parents?
• Who should earn respect and who gains it by virtue of their position of power?

“Parents do not listen to us, they just want to shout” is a response from one of the ladies. The rest of the group agrees. It is difficult, near impossible – the participants feel – to have a rational conversation with their parents. As the group agrees on this premise, it becomes clear that the main issue of contention between young women and parents (especially their mothers) are males.

”I can’t tell mom anything when she has convinced herself that I are running around in the streets with boys (sic)” says one girl to the agreement of the entire group. “When I walk into the house after six, my mom is ready to hit me because she says I was sitting with boys on the street (sic)”.

Gugu facilitates a conversation about effective communication between parents and children. She emphasises the importance of allowing the other party to speak and expressing their issues on a matter. Through play acting, Gugu shows the young women how to listen better and communicate effectively.

She stresses that although the participants have a voice and their voices should be heard, it is important that participants respect parents and their roles as leaders in the household. It is important that parents’ warnings are heeded because they have something the participants do not have: wisdom.

Gugu does however agree with the young women that parents are human too. Like all human beings, they will make mistakes and lose their tempers unjustly. But this comes predominantly from a position of fear. In a world where girl children are abducted on a daily basis, the teenage incidence of teenage pregnancy high and alcohol abuse rampant – parents fear the loss of their children to social ills.

Gugu references the story of the young mosquito. The parent mosquito was happy that the young mosquito had learned to fly. However, wisdom had taught the parent that the clapping of hands signaled possible death. Conversely, parents often react out of fear. Effective communication between parents and children will not only prevent rebellion, but will also facilitate healthier parent child relationships and harmonious homes.

While this session seems to have planted, in the minds of the participants, a seed on the importance of communication among – it exposes the ever present need of an intervention targeted at parents. A concerted effort needs to be made to ensure that both parents and children engage simultaneously on issues of gender norms and social cohesion.

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Khanyisile Ntsenge (Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Manager
04 July 2017

According to Posel and Devey , South Africa has one of the highest rates of non-resident fathers in Africa, after Namibia. This statement references the two third of preschool children who do not co-reside with their fathers . While the one third of the children might enjoy the “privilege” of having a present father in the household, it is important to take into consideration Morrell’s caution on the position of the father. Morrell argues that the position of the father cannot be determined in terms of his presence or absence, considering that father presence does not mean father involvement.

“You know, before this school I did not know where my child’s crèche is located. I knew it was somewhere in Zone two but I had no clue about the exact location of the school. After coming to the second class of this school, I went home and thought deeply about the things I had learned that day. I then asked the mother of my child to take me along when she takes the child to the crèche the next day. She laughed at me shocked. She did not believe I was serious. The next day, I was the first one awake, ready to take my child to crèche. I am proud to say that this school changed the way I think about my role as a father and a partner (sic)”.

The above is an excerpt from a discussion held during a conversation between a group of men age 25-50 years old. The session was held in an informal settlement in Clare Estate on Palmiet road. The settlement houses some of the 149,634 informal dwellings in the eThekwini district .

The group – facilitated by Buhle, a young man from the settlement in his mid-twenties – had attended nine stepping stones sessions. Session topics encouraged engagement on the following topics:
• Communication
• Body Language
• Sex and Love
• Conception and contraception
• Safer Sex and caring in a time of AIDS
• Gender Based Violence
• Supporting Oneself
• Asserting Oneself

The final day was set aside for a group therapy session. This session was an opportunity for participants to share their stories of gender based violence whether as perpetrators or as victims of violence.

Participants of the group shared their experiences of being direct and indirect perpetrators of gender based violence. While participants were reluctant to share their own perpetration of gender based violence, all participants agreed that the root cause of violence is the lack of communication and understanding of the lived experience of another.

Participants shared how they have, in the past few days, learned the importance of talking to their partners. One participant shared that he joined the group thinking that it would be a place to discuss “…the same old boring issues about condoms and then get free money. But the kind of skills I have learned in this place have really changed the way I understand my role as a man and father in the home. I really feel like I have begun to be a changed man. I wish the school would carry on for much longer”.

“Black fathers are not absent”, is a statement that would be welcome to the ears of black children, women, families, black communities and society at large. While this statement cannot be justified as truth yet, interventions such as Stepping Stones with black men and boys will certainly shift the lived experiences of black families.

While the members of this group – and the over six thousand others who form Project Empower’s 2017 Stepping Stones cohort – will not be completely changed by the sessions they attended, an initial stone has been placed. A stepping stone on the path across the difficult river of life.

1. Posel D, Devey R. 2006. The demographics of fatherhood in South Africa: An analysis of survey data, 1993-2002. In: Richter L, Morell R, eds. Baba: Men and fatherhood in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press; 38-52.
Statistics South Africa. 2010. General Household Survey 2010: Statistical release P0318. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa; 2011.
2. MORRELL, R. 2006. Fathers, fatherhood and masculinity in South Africa. In: RICHTER, L. & MORRELL, R. (eds). Baba men and fatherhood in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
2. Statistics South Africa. 2016. Community Survey 2016 Provinces at a glance / Statistics South Africa. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa, 31pp.

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Prevalence and drivers of violence in informal settlements in eThekwini, South Africa Tue, 04 Apr 2017 14:25:11 +0000

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Izimpilo Zethu Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:12:33 +0000 “Okwenza impilo yaba ngcono ukuthi umama wadlula emhlabeni sesiwutholile umuzi womxhaso. Kwakuyoba nzima kakhulu ukuba sasisahlala emqashweni. ngonyaka ka2010 nami ngiye ngakhulelwa. Kwaba nzima kakhulu nami sengithole umntwana ngoba kwanda izindleko. Kwaba nzima ukukhulisa umntwana ngoba noyise ubengumuntu ophila ngokubamba amatoho, kodwa uma ethole itoho uyasinakekela sinomntwana.”

Funda eminye imilando

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Our Life Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:06:58 +0000 “The good thing is that before my mother died, we had an RDP house that was registered under her name. If we did not have a home, it would have been even tougher. Shelter is very important. In 2010 I also fell pregnant and expenses increased. The father of my child did not have a formal job and so we struggled raising my child”.

Read more stories

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Stepping Stones Manual Thu, 05 Jan 2017 13:28:29 +0000 Stepping Stones is a workshop series designed as a tool to help promote sexual health, improve psychological well-being and prevent HIV. The workshops address questions of gender, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, gender violence, communication and relationship skills. In doing so they recognise that our sexual lives are embedded in a broader context of our relationships with our partners, families and the community or society in which we live. These strongly influence how we act, the possibilities open to us and our ability to make safe and healthy choices. Knowledge is important, but to make changes in our lives we need more than knowledge, for example if we do not communicate well with our partner, or we fear being beaten or abandoned, or feel constrained by our culture or religion, we may not be able to use condoms. Sometimes we try to say what we want but are not listened to.

Stepping Stones workshops provide opportunities for participants to examine their values and attitudes towards gender and relationships, to build on their knowledge on aspects of sexuality and HIV/AIDS and to develop skills to help them communicate with others and ensure that other people know exactly what they want. The workshops are based on participatory learning approaches as we all know that we learn better when we have our knowledge affirmed and are able to discuss and decide things for ourselves, rather than just receiving lectures. They are designed for use with men and women.

Each session described here represents a stepping stone on the path across the difficult river of life. Each has been designed to build on previous sessions and so the manual is intended to be used in its entirety with a group of participants who work through all the sessions. It was originally developed for use in small communities in Uganda, but has been adapted for use in South Africa. In making the adaptation we recognise that most South Africans live in cities. The communities referred to in this manual may refer e.g. to people from a neighbourhood, from a school, a women’s group, a football club or a church group. The manual may be used with any group of people, of any age and both genders so long as they are prepared to meet together for the workshops and share aspects of their lives.

Stepping Stones has been rigorously evaluated in research conducted by the Medical Research Council in the rural Eastern Cape and shown to enable young men and women to change their behaviour and reduce their acquisition of sexually transmitted infections.


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