THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

RAISA YEBO September 2003
Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa/VSO
September 19, 2003

Dear Friends and Partners,

This edition will be focused on Mainstreaming. This is one of the key activities and focus areas of VSO-RAISA. All RAISA countries have contributed except for Zimbabwe, since at the moment there are no volunteer development workers working in Zimbabwe.

VSO-RAISA has undertaken mainstreaming through volunteer development workers since the project began in 2000. Mainstreaming, integration and the multi sectoral response are common terms nowadays when discussing development work around gender, HIV & AIDS, disability etc. and each organisation understands these methodologies in a slightly different context. For the purposes of VSO-RAISA we have taken mainstreaming to mean the overall concept of responding to HIV & AIDS in development sectors where the pandemic may not normally be addressed. Integration describes the concrete activities within individual projects or organisations, which tackle HIV & AIDS. It can be viewed as a process which builds on itself starting with an integration activity which feeds into a mainstreaming approach within an organisation and or sector which in turn feeds into a multi sectoral response to HIV. In other words, responding to the needs of those infected and affected by HIV & AIDS is embedded in all plans, activities and budgets. Both integration and mainstreaming directly build on and feed into enabling a successful multi sectoral response. Volunteer development workers have been undertaking a variety of both integration and mainstreaming activities and VSO-RAISA acknowledge that integration is often a first level before actual mainstreaming can take place. Our work in mainstreaming is work in progress and the last 3.5 years has enabled us to develop our approaches around ownership of mainstreaming work and around sustainability of this approach. Some of this work is highlighted in our publication ‘Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS looking beyond awareness’ (VSO 2002). For a copy of this please download from the web or contact your country co-ordinator.

Workshop on HIV&AIDS and Disability
Through the efforts of three volunteers in June 2003 VSO-RAISA and the National Federation of People Living with Disabilities (NFPDN) held a joint workshop on HIV & AIDS and Disability. This has ensured that HIV & AIDS is on the agenda of all the Namibian organisations working for and with disabled people and that people with disabilities are well represented with the AIDS service providers as well.

This initiative has been extremely successful because:

  • There was a definite need identified
  • It was not just a volunteer driven initiative
  • It has been incorporated into the work plans of the NFPDN and the Multi Media Campaign for HIV & AIDS.
  • Because each step has included the involvement of people with disabilities and people living with HIV.

Katatura Youth Enterprise Center (KAYEC)
KAYEC is a training centre for unemployed youth, it teaches skills such as brick laying, metal work, plumbing, carpentry and mechanics. VSO has placed a number of volunteer development workers (vdw’s) at KAYEC over a period of 8 years. At the beginning of the RAISA programme several vdw’s working at KAYEC mentioned their concern over the number of students and trainers who where absent from work due to illness and funerals, they were also concerned that the youth where being trained and then dying of AIDS. The vdw’s together with the assistance of the RAISA country coordinator approached the management to look at ways of addressing these issues and the outcome has been to provide two weeks of training on HIV&AIDS into all the KAYEC courses for all trainers and trainees. These two weeks of training include basic facts about the disease, prevention, condom demonstrations, visiting AIDS Service Organisations and Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centres and meeting with people living with the virus. Pupils no do not only learn a vocational skill but also a life skill.

(For more information please contact

Liz Montgomery, Lundazi Secondary School,Maths Teacher, Zambia
Liz and other volunteers established a three-pronged programme targeting pupils at Lundazi Secondary School in the Eastern province. Activities included a SHARP programme for boys aimed at discussing various HIV&AIDS issues including contraception and safe sex. Another programme was the Girls Empowerment programme (called kanyike wapwevo) concentrating on gender development and behaviour change. This programme became so popular in the district that education authorities decided to adopt all the girls who participated in this programme as role models. In order to give chance to all pupils in the school to participate in HIV&AIDS activities, an Anti-AIDS club was mooted. The club grew from strength to strength as more and more members were added to it. Liz and her colleagues went further by holding a district teachers workshop to help them initiate and coordinate anti-AIDS activities in their respective schools. The workshop also introduced the teachers to SHARP and Girls Empowerment programmes. To Liz Montgomery, all this is not enough without backing up her lessons with some HIV&AIDS key messages in all her maths classes.

(For more information please contact

In South Africa there are volunteer development workers working in AIDS Service organisations, Gender organisations, engineering organisations, media organisations and others. In many of these organisations where our volunteer development workers are placed there are examples of mainstreaming. Here are two examples:

Big Issue, Nicola Jeffrey
Big Issue is a magazine, which was founded in December 1996 as an income generation and social project. The production of a monthly magazine provides an income-generating tool to the beneficiaries who receive 50% of the cover price as income. Nicola Jeffrey has joined Big Issue through VSO as a financial manager. One of the objectives of Nicola in her placement was to mainstream HIV& AIDS. What she chose to do is to implement a column in the Big Issue, which discusses different topics relating to HIV&AIDS. Every month the column has a different theme, in August it was Women and HIV&AIDS and the September issue discusses Poverty and HIV&AIDS. Nicola started the column in the June edition of 2003. It was decided with the whole editorial team to start this column, so it was a participatory decision. Nicola has received positive feedback from readers about the HIV&AIDS column and it has increased the discussion about HIV&AIDS amongst her colleagues. Further successes will have to be measured at a later stage, also by looking at how many more inquiries the AIDS Service organisations, which were mentioned in the column, will receive.

Moretele Sunrise, Harold Sibma
Harold (volunteer development worker) works as a project coordinator at the Moretele Sunrise Hospice in Temba. Moretele does a lot of home-based care and counselling through out the community. The first two weeks when Harold started he read in the RAISA annual report that a volunteer development worker in Zimbabwe together with her colleagues had produced a manual on how to care for terminally ill people in their own homes. Harold has asked for this manual and will have it translated into Tswane so the caregivers can use it in the Temba community.

Many volunteer development workers do integration or mainstreaming without knowing it. Without being an HIV & AIDS expert many volunteer development workers give their contribution to HIV & AIDS integration. However it can be a challenge since the volunteer development workers are working in a new workplace and a new culture.

(For more information please contact

Mainstreaming in Xai-Xai
Maura Murphy (volunteer development worker) is an English Language Teacher at Escola Secondaria Joaquim Chissano in the Xai-Xai District of Mozambique. Teaching a minimum of 20 hours a week to grades 11 and 12 or when necessary grade 8 to 10, she has incorporated HIV&AIDS related issues into her lessons. This has been done by including discussions of topics such as; illness, TB, ways of contracting and preventing HIV&AIDS through abstinence, use of condoms and having only one sexual partner, into the oral English classes. Maura’s actions have been catalytic in causing change towards HIV&AIDS within the school.

The students’ response to these initiatives although slow has been positive. In the past for example, there were three to five registered pregnancies a year. So far this year there have been none. The number of condoms distributed, sold and found used after HIV&AIDS related events have increased.

Best of all has been the involvement of the students themselves in the combat against AIDS. The head of the school explained how some of them have formed an activist group called Geracao Biz (meaning occupied generation) whose activities include debates, public talks, and plays that inform not only other students but also the surrounding community about HIV&AIDS. They also run a clinic dealing with STDs at the school. .

Mainstreaming at EICP
For three years Elizabeth Longley (volunteer development worker) has been mainstreaming HIV&AIDS at Escola Industrial e Comercial de Pemba (EICP) where she works as an English Teacher. This has been done through an HIV&AIDS drama group which she supports, during HIV&AIDS Awareness Week – "EICP Free of HIV&AIDS" which will run in two weeks for the third consecutive year and through an NGO called AMASH to which Elizabeth advises. HIV&AIDS related issues are also incorporated into the classes. Elizabeth is quick to point out that it is hard to measure the impact such activities are having because the extent to which people’s behaviour has actually changed is hard to quantify. The following examples although minor are quite noteworthy.

One of these has been the increase in the participation of the staff in the awareness week. In the first year Elizabeth and another volunteer ran the Healthy Week Life alone. With each passing year staff involvement has increased. Consequently this year more teachers are involved than have ever been before.

Another indicator of the impact Elizabeth’s efforts are having is that more of EICP’s students do HIV testing at the local clinic than students from any other local school. As noted by a GATV (VCT) Advisor this has been due to the increased HIV&AIDS awareness efforts of the teachers at EICP.

(For more info contact

In Malawi, the National strategic plan mandates all government ministries and encourages the private sector to mainstream HIV&AIDS in their ministries and organisations. In many cases, there are no clear guidelines and strategies for mainstreaming HIV&AIDS apart from a few lines or paragraphs of HIV&AIDS in the plans. The advantage of this is that it gives volunteers a starting point but does not necessarily say how they can actually take on HIV&AIDS initiatives. Many of our volunteers have responded to HIV&AIDS in their workplaces and communities by carrying out concrete interventions to address the issues related to HIV&AIDS. For instance a volunteer at a Wildlife and Environmental Education Centre deliberately incorporated HIV&AIDS components in his environmental lessons to students and set up an HIV&AIDS resources corner in the Library. Whether that is mainstreaming or integration is subject to discussion.

Malawi has had some fantastic examples of volunteers mainstreaming/integrating HIV&AIDS. A remarkable mainstreaming activity by a volunteer Lameck Mwape who was working as a Laboratory Technician at mission institution- St Luke's Hospital, successfully set up a VCT centre within the mainstream laboratory and put up structures for pre-counselling and post counselling. About a year after the volunteer left, the clinic is still running VCT activities, clients numbers have significantly increased and the services have expanded to other satellite centres in the area. The VCT clinic has now become part of the hospitals main activities.

Another example of integration is where a volunteer teaching at a Community Day Secondary School organised for the first time an Anti AIDS club, which looked at sensitising fellow students and the community on HIV&AIDS. The volunteer managed to convince the paramount chief of the area and went on to organise a workshop for traditional chiefs to discuss the issues about HIV&AIDS and how it is related to cultural practices of the region; and the importance of recognising that some cultural practices are contributing to the spread of HIV&AIDS. The chiefs being the custodians of culture are the right target group for behaviour change in the times of HIV&AIDS. This was a successful workshop, which the chiefs felt it was an eye opener and acknowledged that cultural practices are really a threat in the fight against the epidemic. It is hoped that the chiefs are still practising what they learnt at the workshop and the message reached the people at the grassroots.

It should be acknowledged that volunteer development workers are at the right position to mainstream HIV&AIDS and carry out concrete HIV&AIDS activities in the workplace or communities as they mostly look at issues from above the community. But it should also be acknowledged that they often find it difficult to get started, as they do not have sufficient knowledge of various aspects of the societies that they are working in.

(For more information contact

Overall Key areas of learning for VSO-RAISA around mainstreaming have been:

  • Partnerships: these are key to maintaining and sustaining a mainstreaming approach.
  • Training and support are crucial for both partners and volunteer development workers in order for mainstreaming to take place and lessons to be shared.
  • Facilitation and commitment will lead to partnerships within the local community; will promote ownership and motivation around mainstreaming.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation are essential if VSO-RAISA’s work around mainstreaming is to progress and for VSO, the partner organisation and the volunteer development worker to learn from this experience, this can then be shared with new partners and volunteers and add to the body of knowledge around mainstreaming HIV&AIDS.


Lessons Learned in Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS
A series of flyers designed by Oxfam to assist organisations in mainstreaming the issue of HIV/AIDS into their core business programmes, without losing their original focus. Sept 01

Visit the VSO Zimbabwe fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.