Making a Choice for Children in South Africa (2004-2009)

The aim of the project was to strengthen the response of South African counterpart organisations to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.

With the “Making a Choice for Children” project in South Africa (2004-2009) STOP AIDS NOW! aimed to strengthen the response of South African counterpart organisations to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children.


To make the project a success, STOP AIDS NOW! worked together with the following local organisations: Targeted AIDS Intervention; South African Scouts Association; Catholic Institute for Education; Stellenbosch University; Dance4Life; AREPP Theatre 4Life; Twilight Children; God’s Golden Acre; Children’s Institute; and Save the Children UK.

How we worked

In this project we worked according to a participatory learning process with partners in the Netherlands and partners in South Africa. It consisted of:

  • Assessing the current OVC situation within the country 
  • Identifying the knowledge and expertise available among the organisations involved 
  • Identifying needs for specific knowledge and expertise 
  • Identifying gaps between available and required knowledge 
  • Developing and implementing specific learning tracks, based on this needs assessment 
  • Using action-oriented research to evaluate and adapt the process of assessment, development and implementation. 

Learning tracks

The project consisted of four so-called learning tracks: 

1. Networks of Care 
Key in addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children is the support the children get of the local communities they are part of. This learning track focused on strengthening the capacity of participating organisations to raise awareness and a sense of responsibility within stakeholder groups of local communities to identify vulnerable children and respond to their needs and in that way have a positive impact on the well-being of children in the context of HIV and AIDS

2. 4Life Skills
When looking at life skills education it’s important to realise the barrier the separation of home and school can be to the benefits of life skills education. There is a lack of parental endorsement and assistance in young people integrating new knowledge into daily life. This learning track focused on improving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR)/HIV prevention programmes for young people and in that way increasing the possibilities for young people to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. This was done by developing an understanding of monitoring and evaluation and baseline research among participating organisations; and by promoting an enabling environment for Life Skills education through engaging with parents and caregivers.

3. 4Life Facilitators
Volunteers and ground-level facilitators play an important role in the process of implementing any project or programme focusing on children and AIDS. This learning track focused on improving support by youth facilitators for children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS by jointly developing mechanisms for support, and development and provision of 4Life facilitator trainings.

4. Meaningful participation
Many HIV and AIDS programmes are aimed at young people, yet exclude them from any meaningful participation in the various phases of these programmes. To remain appropriate and authentic young people need to be included at the various levels and phases of programs. This learning track focused on providing more effective care, support and prevention programmes for young people and children affected by HIV and AIDS by their improved participation in the planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of these programmes. 

Next to the learning tracks the 10 organisations were supported in upscaling their own OVC activities in a qualitatively, sound way. 

Achievements of the learning tracks

1. Networks of Care

  • Concept of Networks of Care has been tested thoroughly in 3 communities by 3 organisations;
  • final version of the ‘Champions Handbook’ of the Children’s Institute (using the test-results of the 3 locations) that is used to develop Caring Schools;
  • booklet The Journey of Hope developed, and distributed widely; (also available in French
  • increased involvement and participation of local community members in issues dealing with OVC;
  • more OVC being cared for in a qualitative way;
  • Overall outcome of this learning track: The importance of local Networks of Care to address the needs of OVC in a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder approach is recognised more widely in South Africa and this will contribute to more cooperation between various stakeholders (CSOs and government) in addressing the needs of OVC. 

2. 4Life Skills

  • staff of partner organizations extensively trained in M&E systems;
  • better M&E systems in the partners projects and organizations;
  • production of Planning & Support tool for SRHR/HIV interventions for young people;
  • use of the Intervention Mapping approach in planning, implementing and evaluation of programs, leading to more effective SRHR/HIV-prevention programs;
  • production of the manual Conducting a parent involvement workshop
  • more parents and caregivers involved in Life Skills education, leading to more sustainable HIV/AIDS awareness and skills building;
  • Overall outcome of this learning track: more effective programmes, based on thorough analysis and M&E systems.

3. 4Life Facilitators

  • accreditation of two organisations as service providers;
  • training of 4Life Facilitators in several organisations;
  • model for ‘career-pathing’ volunteers tested;
  • active Lobby and Advocacy for the use of 4Life Faciliators at a larger scale; 
  • production of pamphlet 4Life Facilitators: strengthening the resilience of vulnerable children to support this lobby;
  • improved support for OVC, because 4Life Faciliators create important links between all stakeholders involved;
  • Overall outcome of this learning track: important role of volunteer 4Life facilitators acknowledged and lessons on how to support them shared. The positive attention for youth facilitators has furthermore led to more effective reaching out to vulnerable youth.

4. Meaningful participation

  • development of the “STOP AIDS NOW! Youth Participation (SYP) Model” for organisations to work with the various levels of youth involvement;
  • testing of the model by the participating organisations;
  • increased participation of young people at various phases in current and future programs;
  • reduced adult dominated programs aimed at young people;
  • changed organisational policy at several partner organizations;
  • production of the manual Hear our voices! Making sure young people’s voices are heard, including SYP model and positive case studies (also available in French);
  • Overall outcome of this learning track: Meaningful Participation of youth is implemented within all the participating organizations, leading to more effective programs for the children/youth ánd more empowerment of children/youth. 

Circus of Partnership

This circus symbolizes the project in South Africa, a  project for children (hence the circus and the drawing, fun to watch). The 4 circles are the 4 learning tracks. The names of the 10 partners can be found on the flags high in the tent. The facilitators are the people with the 4Life-t-shirts.