Fund 100 camp places and monthly network clubs in Lesotho so children living with HIV can help improve their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Why we care: A study by Sentebale shows that HIV positive children in Lesotho–60% of whom are girls–are isolated and receive little support in their homes and communities; they had almost no opportunities to fully explore the reality of living with HIV and how they could transform their situation into one of hope and strength.

How we’re solving this: Brings together children and young people in a safe environment and giving them the knowledge and tools to effectively manage their illness, resulting in extended life expectancy through treatment adherence, reduced spread of the disease via healthy risk taking and reduced stigma via peer education.

Founded in 2006 by Prince Harry from the British Royal family and Prince Seeiso from the Lesotho Royal family, Sentebale works with local grassroots organisations to help children living with HIV get the support they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Lesotho has the third highest HIV infection rate in the world, with 23 percent of adults and more than 37,000 children infected with the virus in a population of 1.8 million. 60% of Lesotho’s HIV positive adults and children are female. Life expectancy is the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa at just 41 years.

There is an entire generation of children and young people who have very little information about their condition, how to manage it and how to prevent infecting others. Sentebale’s guiding vision is to give this generation the support they need to shape a prosperous future for themselves and their families.

This project will help fill the serious gap in HIV/AIDS education provision for young people in Lesotho by raising funds to enable 100 children attend a 5-day camp and monthly post-camp meetings where HIV positive children can learn to live physically and emotionally healthy lives.

Sentebale’s partner clinics identify and select children for the camps who are struggling to come to terms with their HIV status, who are feeling overwhelmed and powerless to manage their healthcare, or who have little or no motivation to adhere to treatment.  At camp, these children meet others with similar struggles; they are able to share their concerns and they learn that they can live healthy and happy lives with HIV.

The camps balance educational sessions with sports, arts, crafts and drama. Children learn the importance of a balanced, healthy diet and emphasis is placed on anti-retroviral drugs and adherence to them.  Fun activities focus on teamwork, leadership, healthy risk taking, self-expression and creativity, all within a safe, encouraging environment designed to increase the children’s self-esteem, confidence and assertiveness. 

After attending camp, children are encouraged to attend one of the monthly Network Clubs that Sentebale runs in locations throughout Lesotho. These Clubs help children build on the lessons learned at camp and cultivate a local peer-group network—an invaluable support as they face the difficulties of daily life.  Children spend approximately four hours at the club, meeting and socialising with other children living with HIV, expressing their thoughts, fears, dreams and achievements, and improving their knowledge of HIV and how best to manage their life with the condition.

In 2010, the programme was highlighted as a model of international best practice by the United Nations General Assembly and evidence shows that the programme has made a substantial difference in participant’s lives in terms of their feelings of self-worth, confidence and understanding of their illness.