Khuluma has helped me to accept my status, to feel supported and to gain knowledge on HIV.
In 2013, The SHM Foundation started running a program called Khuluma for HIV positive adolescents in South Africa to provide peer-to-peer support groups for them using mobile phones. We started working with local clinics in Pretoria and Cape Town to recruit the young people for our program. Despite their commitment to provide great care to these young people, such clinics lack resources to provide emotional support to their patients.
Khuluma is a social support program where participants are placed in support groups of 10-15 peers who share similar experiences. These support groups are enabled by our digital platform where participants discuss, peer-to-peer at any time via text message, a range of issues relating to their condition or needs for three months. Results from our evaluation of the impact of Khuluma have shown a significant decrease in feelings of stigma and discrimination, as well as a significant increase in feelings of social support and positive trends towards complying with their medical treatment.
As Khuluma has grown, we have found that some participants have wanted to stay on and become part of our program. So we launched the Khuluma Mentor Program, which provides our adolescents with training on HIV knowledge, facilitation and offers them general support in their lives when it comes to personal care, education and their careers.
The Khuluma Mentor Program aims to be creative and engaging. This year, we have run creative photography workshops, a project with University College London (to gain further insights into the mental health needs of HIV positive adolescents) as well as attended international conferences and social events. The mentors were also involved in a short film, capturing what has happened in their lives and giving them a voice to share their story.
All of our mentors have high aspirations for their future. Have a look at what some of our mentors goals are in life:
I want to finish my studies and go to university. I want to study business and event management.
Over the past five years, we have worked with 160 participants who have been through the Khuluma support groups and have trained 27 mentors, boys and girls, who have helped us reach out to more and more young people each year, working alongside our Khuluma team. We always feel a great sense of pride when we hear from our mentors about how Khuluma changed their lives:
Khuluma has healed me emotionally. It has given me confidence and taught me how to uplift myself.
It has given me the ability to discover myself and express my feelings.
With just £185, we can support one mentor throughout a year of our Mentor Program. If we can reach our target of £5,000 we will be able to support all 27 mentors. The money will be used to cover their travel expenses, so that they can attend our workshops and activities; learning materials; food, so that we can organise picnics for them; and entry to one of the many planned fun activities. Please help us support our mentors. They are an inspiration for other young people out there living with HIV and Khuluma would not be as successful as it is today without them.
To find out more about our Khuluma mentors, please click here to watch our film: Khuluma - our space to be