The HIV University Model Implemented in Mpophomeni Township
April 2008 the HIV University model was replicated and implemented in Mpophomeni township in South Africa.
The core of the HIV University model is that the HIV positive women participants decide for themselves what they want to learn, when they want to learn it, and who they want to learn it from. The participants of the HIV University decide jointly their own curriculum, lectures and instructors based upon their collective preferences.
Shalini Eddens, a trainee from WORLD was recruited with the help of WORLD leadership in the United States, and took on the role as a facilitator during the HIV University meetings.
Fourteen HIV positive women participated in the pilot project in Mpophomeni. It was up to these women to choose which topics they wanted to include in their University and to point out deans with different responsibilities in the fields of nutrition, instructors, students and graduation. For a period of 20 days the women decided to meet eight times for four hours.
The topics the women chose were Religion and Culture, How to be a Public Speaker?, Social Welfare Development and Human Rights/Rape. The women invited instructors to teach the classes. Some of the women contributed with their experiences and knowledge of the different topics and themes during the classes.
Throughout HIV University the women repeatedly stressed the importance of involving and including men in the HIV/AIDS preventive work. Nonetheless, they were very consistent that this pilot project was for them only. According to the women, men need to hear from other men the dangers of HIV and the necessity of condom use and preventions. Thus, the women decided to invite a few men to a discussion about HIV/AIDS and their point of view on the matter of the pandemic. Three HIV positive men participated in the discussion. The women asked the men different questions regarding the difficulties of being a young man living with HIV in a black township.
The pilot project of HIV-University in Mpophomeni closed with a graduation ceremony. The women invited friends and family to come and celebrate with them. The women had been planning the event for weeks—food, venue, decorations, music and entertainment. They also typed a program that they handed out to everybody on the day of the graduation ceremony. There were approximately 50 guests of all ages celebrating the women and their graduation from the HIV University.