Children's Rights Centre (CRC)

We seek to contribute to the development of a sustainable child-friendly society in South Africa, with child-friendly policies and practices at all levels of society based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, African Charter on the Rights & Welfare of the Child, and the South African Constitution. We do this through awareness-raising, training, monitoring, advocacy, information sharing and building a children's rights movement including children and adults as partners.
Jul 31, 2012

Case Study Wits Reproductive Health &HIV Institute

Drawing of ARV
Drawing of ARV's (pre-adolescent)

Dear Global Giving donors and valued supporters of the “My Living Positively” project to support the well being of children living with HIV in South Africa.

We would like to showcase one of our Yezingane Network member organizations work involving the “My Living Positively” treatment booklet for children.  We would like to thank you again for supporting this project and look forward to your continued support.

By: Shanaaz Kapery Randeria

Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute


I have been using the ‘My Living positively’ Handbook for many years with adolescents and younger children.  Adolescent open weekly support groups are run on Thursdays and a pre-teen support group is now running very successfully on Tuesdays at the facility I am employed at.

The adolescent weekly support group is available to HIV positive clinic patients (13-21 years old) who have been disclosed to.

The pre-adolescent (9-12 years old) weekly support groups are available to all pre-adolescent HIV positive patients regardless of their knowledge of their HIV status.


The psychosocial programs that I develop and implement are:

- Rights-based

- Developmentally informed

- Child/ youth-friendly

The rights that the pre-adolescent group members are most often aware of are the rights to:

- Basic needs

- Education

- Leisure and play

- Clean environment

- Good health care and services


The accompanying responsibilities of individuals to maximize the benefit from these rights are always discussed.

An area of concern, especially with adolescents, is adherence to ARV’s.  Developmentally, adolescents are extremely vulnerable to default from their ARV treatment. During the adolescent stage important developmental tasks include: formation of an identity, including a sexual identity, identifying with a peer group, emotional detachment from significant adults, conceptualizing their role in an adult world which includes a career and a family of their own. Adolescence is the stage of sexual debut for most. In addition to being on the threshold of adulthood, which brings with it various adult roles and responsibilities to be fulfilled, adolescents have to accept that their sexuality has come under attack as a result of being HIV positive.

The role of culture in HIV transmission is being acknowledged.  The influence of culture is an important and pervasive aspect in the lives of Africans (Hodgson, 1999). Health and ideas about disease and illness are intricately interwoven with our culture.  It stands to reason that in order to address HIV/AIDS challenges, that culture should be recognized as an important component of interventions.

The ‘My Living Positively’ handbook lends itself to a lot of creative uses with children and adolescents. 

Specific instances where I have utilized it to stimulate discussion includes

      - ‘What happens to my body without help?’ (pp. 22-23)

 The adolescent group had to find their own metaphors to depict the relationship between  

 their health, HIV and ARV’s.

Metaphors by the adolescents:

ARV                                                                                                       My health

Airtime                                                                                           Cell phone can be used to make calls

Rain and sunshine                                                                         Allows flowers to grow

Petrol                                                                                              Allows a car to drive

Food                                                                                                Gives the body and brain energy

Policeman                                                                                       Catching a robber            



The pre-adolescent discussion on the role of culture and adherence was introduced with the help of ‘My Living Positively’ handbook (p. 38): the role of traditional healers. Two languages are commonly spoken by support group members viz. Sotho and Zulu.  The Sotho word for traditional healer is ‘ngaka’ and the Zulu word is ‘sangoma’.  The value of culture in our daily lives and for the functioning of our family was discussed.  In addition, the importance of adhering to medication, and not mixing it with traditional medication was discussed. The effects of mixing western and traditional medication in particular were addressed including the effects of doing so.

The pre-adolescent weekly support group is open to all patients at the clinic regardless of whether they are disclosed to or not.  HIV and ARV’s are therefore not specifically discussed.  In a plight to ‘normalize’ living with HIV as a chronic long-term condition (similar to diabetes for instance), HIV is discussed as a one of many organisms that can make one susceptible to illnesses like TB.


  The responsibility of adhering to medication is one of the responsibilities that the group acknowledges as important to give validity to the right to good basic health care.  Recognizing the medication children take is one of the ways in which they can gain a sense of pride in themselves.  This seemingly simple task, of recognizing medication, also imparts a sense of taking responsibility for ‘my health’. The range of children’s ARV’s will be displayed and each group member will identify those they take.  Using Art therapy, they will draw their medication (p. 36) and we will then discuss healthy ‘positive’ living focusing on : healthy eating habits, rest, exercise, reducing stress and taking medication-these are 5 basic steps to staying healthy regardless of HIV status.


AIDS orphans are at a higher risk for adverse mental health outcomes, in particular anxiety depression and PTSD (Cluver et al, 2009). Loneliness is another feeling that HIV orphans and youth commonly experience (Davis, 1990). These adverse mental health conditions and feelings are sometimes self-imposed.

 In African culture, it is unacceptable for a child/adolescent to challenge an adult. Children and adolescents are typically expected to be seen and not heard. The support group provides a safe and nurturing environment where children and adolescents’ right to be heard are encouraged and respected.  Acknowledging feelings and safe and effective ways of expressing them are always practiced. It is also important that they recognize others’ feelings in order to navigate safe and effective communication with the significant adults in their lives. Children and sometimes adolescents as well do not necessarily have the appropriate vocabulary to state or even identify their feelings. Pictures or a list of feelings given to the group members (p. 31) are good for stimulating games and discussions about feelings.  A game that is popular with the pre-adolescent group is for a member to demonstrate a facial expression of a feeling and the group has to correctly guess the feeling.




Cluver, L., Gardner, F., Operario, D. (2009) ‘Poverty and Psychological Health among AIDS- orphaned children in Cape Town, South Africa AIDS care 21(6) pp. 732-741


Davis, D.B. (1990) ‘Loneliness in Children and Adolescents’ Comprehensive Paediatric Nursing vol 13 pp. 59-69


Hodgson, I.J. (1999) ‘Myth and HIV: The role of cultural narrative in the construction of HIV/AIDS’ National HIV Nurses Conference June 1999 Available from: (Accessed: 24 July 2012)


Feelings: Collage of feeling Happy
Feelings: Collage of feeling Happy


May 9, 2012

My Living Positively - Yezingane Network Report

Children's booklet and the adults guide.

Global Giving report – My Living Positively                           May 2012


The My Living Positively booklets have been in high demand recently as organisations see others using the booklets. The information and guidance given in both the adult and child versions have been shown to be invaluable in communicating to children how to live with HIV positively as well as how adults can effectively support children living with HIV.

The books include information such as what is HIV, how to live with HIV, understanding ones changes in the body from HIV, understanding medicines (especially Antiretrovirals), HIV and discrimination, how best for adults to speak to children of different ages about HIV, and much more. Throughout the book there are opportunities to creatively participate with the educational material including drawing and colouring in.

Yezingane Network is a civil society network of networks made up of organisations working to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on children, families and communities. The Network represents the Children’s Sector on the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), and is one of nineteen Sectors that constitute the Council.

(Click to see SANAC – Children’s sector website and Yezingane Network Facebook and Website).


Recently we held a membership recruitment campaign and many new Yezingane Network members joined, and each new member (now a total of 110 new members at the time of writing this article) has received copies of the My Living Positively booklets as well as other Yezingane Network Publications. Additional grassroots level organisations have also received these valuable information resources. All Yezingane Network Provincial Representatives are currently receiving more My Living Positively to distribute to other grass root organisations. A total of 848 My Living Positively booklets and a total of 738 Helping Children with HIV booklets (a guide for adults) have been distributed between February and April 2012 in all languages.


At the moment these booklets are in three languages, namely, English, Zulu and Xhosa. We are currently planning (depending on funding received) to translate these books into Sesotho because of the expressed need for these booklets in the Limpopo Province.


These booklets are having a major impact in lives of children across South Africa and you the donor are to thank for your support in this project. It has been extremely encouraging to see the increased demand for the My Living Positively Booklets and to see the increased distribution across the country. Thank you for your support and we hope that we are able to continue to distribute these valuable publications across South Africa to children living with HIV/AIDS.


Feb 9, 2012

Report 6:Supporting children with HIV in S.A.

Global Giving Foundation: Support the wellbeing of children with HIV in SA

Report 6: (February 2012)

Compiled by Hema Somai (Children’s Rights Centre)

Best wishes to all our Friends for 2012! It has been a year of success and we look forward to increasing those achievements this year.

Children’s Rights Centre distributed 1076 My Living Positively Handbooks and the Helping Children Living with HIV booklets between October and November 2011 in English, isiZulu and isiXhosa languages. This is a significant achievement which confirms the value these books have for children living with HIV and AIDS.

A few copies were requested by the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union who distributed at a conference these at their ARV Programme for Pediatrics[j1]  in Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Lesedi Educare requested 300 each of the Handbooks and Adult Guides in English in November 2011which they shared with children attending the Pelonomi Hospital’s Tswelopele HIV/AIDS Clinic in the Free State. In 2009/1010 this organisation ordered 1000 of the My Living Positively Handbooks for use in the same clinic. They reported that our books were welcomed by the doctors and children alike, therefore prompting the request for the second consignment.

We also shared 550 copies each of the books with eMpathy Trust, Southern Africa located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, who used the books for information sharing. This province continues to have the highest HIV prevalence rate in South Africa and high levels of infant mortality. Linzi Rabinowitz from eMpathy Trust praised they My Living Positively Handbook by saying: “eMpathyTrust has mostly worked in schools, but more and more our work seems to be extending to home/health care workers in communities so your book is an invaluable resource! Many thanks”.

Three hundred and fifty copies of the books were distributed to the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation located in Cape Town in the province of the Western Cape. This was the second time this organisation requested these books, having reported that “...the children loved them”.

Two hundred books were distributed to the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town, Western Cape province. These books will be used for information sharing and distribution to the children living with HIV and AIDS.

Sinikithemba is the McCord Hospital’s HIV care programme, located in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. One hundred copies of My Living Positively Handbooks and Guides were distributed for information sharing purposes and use by their pediatric clinic.

Sixty copies of the Handbook were shared with The National Association of Child Care Workers distribute for information sharing in November 2011.

Sixty copies were also shared with an orphanage located in the Limpopo Province by organisation Keep the Dream.

We hope that in the coming months to distribute our books to more organisations in all of the 9 provinces in South Africa, to ensure that children living with HIV and AIDS have their right to treatment, care and support fulfilled.


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