Expansion of Vhutshilo: Peer Education and support for OVCs in South Africa


Principal Investigator:
Charles Deutsch, Senior Research Scientist

Society, Human Development and Health


Dates of Research:
October 1, 2007 — August 10, 2009


South Africa’s 1.2 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) face a critical shortage of professional capacity. OVCs require sustained psychosocial support, concrete coping skills, and education to prevent risk behaviors for HIV infection and other threats to health and safety. Many vulnerable children will only accept help in the context of social activities that are fun, safe and connect them with their peers, school, churches, and communities. In 2006-2007 Harvard’s Center for Support of Peer Education (CSPE) was funded to work with selected SA partners operating drop-in centers for OVCs. CSPE developed Vhutshilo, a curriculum and training process for peer-led, structured, time-limited, highly interactive socio-educational prevention education and support groups for 10-13 year old OVCs. Well-trained and carefully supervised peer educators (16-19 years old) plan and facilitate these groups and serve as role models of resilience. In this second year (2007-2008) of Vhutshilo, CSPE will continue to support the original 10 implementing sites, extend the program to 30 new sites, and develop, test, and implement a new curriculum and training process for groups for 14-16 year olds.

Website: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/peereducation/