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HIV and AIDS: Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability

In many countries in Southern Africa, people living with HIV make up a quarter or more of the population.  Yet too often their voices go unheard and their needs have been neglected.  Skillshare International's 'Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability' projects aim to ensure a strong voice for people living with HIV and AIDS across Southern Africa.

The projects focus on some of the countries which have been hardest hit by the HIV and AIDS epidemic:  Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. 

Big Lottery logoWe're working with six partner organisations in Southern Africa to improve support, services and livelihoods for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). 

The six linked projects, which began in 2009, are funded by a strategic grant from the Big Lottery.   


Children and the Matlo Gosha Mabapi support group in BotswanaWho is involved?

  • Skillshare International
  • BONEPWA+  - the Botswana Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
  • NAPWA  - South African National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS
  • SWANNEPHA – Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS
  • LENEPWA – Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS
  • RENSIDA – Rede nacional de associações de pessoas vivendo com HIV/SIDA em Moçambique
  • NAP+SAR  - Network of African People Living with HIV and AIDS Southern Africa Region 

Each of the five national networks is made up of local PLWHA support groups, whose members are either living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.


 Through these projects, we aim to:

  • Improve education, incomes, psycho-social support and nutrition for 24,000 orphans and vulnerable children who are currently excluded from existing services.
  • Ensure that 26,000 more PLWHA have access to integrated and sustainable community-based care and support services.
  • Increase the number of PLWHA who notify their partners of their HIV status.
  • Change local, national and regional level policies to reflect the rights of PLWHA.


RENSIDA members with Skillshare International development worker Anne Kasabai (4th from left) and Skillshare International’s Mozambique Co-ordinator Fauzia Osman (right) at a workshop to develop monitoring and evaluation systems in September 2009.  The total grant over five years is £3.68 million and includes:

  • £2.88 million in direct funding to the six PLWHA networks in Southern Africa.
  • Six Skillshare International development worker placements.
  • A team of project staff in Southern Africa.
  • Coaching for Hope activities in Lesotho and Botswana to raise awareness of HIV and build valuable life skills. 
  • Leadership development training to build the capacity of each PLWHA network. Read more about the leadership development workshops... 

  "Through these six linked projects Skillshare International can make a huge contribution to the fight against HIV and AIDS and support orphans and vulnerable children in Southern Africa, which will go a long way towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.”

 (Elijah Adera, Global Programmes Director, Skillshare International)   


Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability: Our development workers

  • Susan Detera, BONEPWA 2009-2011

  • Benard Abingo, SWANNEPHA, 2010-2012

  • Anne Kasabai, RENSIDA, 2009-2011

  • Lucy Karambu, NAPWA, 2009-11

  • Koech Rotich, LENNEPWHA, 2009-11

  • Lisa O’Shea, NAPSAR, based in South Africa, 2009-11 (read Lisa's story)

  • Members of the Maliyadma support group make school uniforms for orphans.  Many of the group are grandparents caring for children who have lost their parents to AIDS.  Maliyadma is a member of SWANNEPHA.          Skillshare International development worker Anne Kasabai        Members of the Mpolonjeni group in Swaziland make and sell handicrafts to support AIDS orphans.  Mpolonjeni is a member of SWANNEPHA.