Matlhape has been loveLife’s deputy CEO since 2005, responsible for the management of loveLife’s face-to-face programmes that reach over half a million young people every month throughout South Africa. "Grace has the depth of experience and insight into the lives of young people that are required for further gains in HIV prevention,” says Chairperson of the loveLife Trust, Cheryl Carolus.
“It is clear that the main sticking point in the epidemic is not a lack of knowledge about HIV, but rather the high tolerance of risk among young people who know that they could become infected, but are aimless and uncertain of their future. loveLife’s mandate is to build a sense of real and immediate possibility for young people, and we are delighted that Grace will lead the next phase of our strategy."
loveLife’s activities include motivational and healthy sexuality programmes in 4,200 schools and close to 200 community-based organisations; development of 6,000 young leaders a year (groundBREAKERS and mpintshis), the loveLife Games national school sports programme with 400,000 participants, toll free helplines for parents and young people that answer over a million calls a year, support for a network of 500 goGogetters – grandmothers who champion the well-being and safety of 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children, and a multi-media campaign through television, radio, print and mobile social networking (www.mymsta.mobi). A national evaluation conducted in 2003 found that young people who participated in loveLife’s face-to-face programmes had a substantially lower prevalence of HIV. Since 2004, the national prevalence of HIV among teenagers has shown a decline, and loveLife’s goal is to continue to accelerate the reduction of HIV among young people.
The outgoing CEO, Dr David Harrison, plans to develop a leadership-with-opportunity programme for ex-groundBREAKERS and mpintshis to capitalise on the incredible youth talent that loveLife has discovered in marginalised communities across South Africa.
ABOUT LOVE LIFE:
loveLife promotes healthy, HIV-free living among South African teenagers. Organised under the auspices of the loveLife Trust, loveLife combines a sustained high-powered multi-media campaign with nationwide community-level outreach and support programmes for youth. loveLife’s programmes are implemented by a national youth volunteer service corps known as groundBREAKERS in partnership with more than 150 community-based non-government organisations, 3700 schools and 350 government clinics across South Africa. Major funding for loveLife is provided by the South African Government and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by Barloworld, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BMW, Cellsmart Technologies, ChangeWright Consulting, DED (German Development Service), Dewey & Le Boeuf, IBM, Independent Newspapers, Jumpstart, Mondi, Murray & Roberts, Rapport, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Institute for Entrepreneurship, Southern Sun, Ster-Kinekor and the Vodacom Foundation. For information visit www.lovelife.org.za or call 0800 121 900.
About Mamonaheng Grace Matlhape:
Grace joined loveLife in 2002 as the Programmes Director and was subsequently promoted to the Deputy CEO in September 2005. She has worked tirelessly in developing and modifying programmes that benefit loveLife’s target audience of 12-17 year olds to ensure that they remain HIV free. Her ‘hands on’ approach has led her to travel to the far reaching corners of South Africa to ensure that programmes for young people are implemented in a consistent manner ensuring quality throughout. This has ensured that loveLife programmes are innovative and are in touch with the various social problems that plague the majority of young South Africans.
Grace’s background has assisted the organisation in its ability to understand young people’s behavioural patterns and the motivators that drive young people to engage in high risk sex. This knowledge has ensured that programmes hone in on these behaviours to re-shape behaviour at the root cause and thereby reduce young people’s risk of contracting the virus.
With Grace’s sound business acumen, she has managed to ensure that the organisation’s strategy is in line with the changing needs of society and our particular target market. Having two children of her own who are within our target market, she is able to keep loveLife abreast with the ever-changing interests of young people, ensuring that our brand remains attractive to youth.
The HIV/Aids field is plagued by various stereo-types regarding gender, sex and sexuality to name but a few. Despite this, Grace has managed to represent the organisation and its’ objectives on many different forums and has managed to re-shape perceptions regarding the organisation, positioning loveLife as the largest HIV prevention campaign in South Africa and abroad.
Her sharp wit, intelligence and ability to stay afloat despite the numerous challenges that face NGO’s keep staff within the organisation motivated and inspired to continue rolling out the loveLife campaign as passionately as always.
Through Grace’s leadership, the organisation has implemented these its in 4200 schools across South Africa. Grace has been instrumental in maintaining a strong volunteer following of 7 490 active youth who implement these programmes, making loveLife the largest HIV prevention campaign in the world targeting young people. She has represented the organisation both locally and abroad.
"When I finished my junior degree, I was part of a generation of young people who felt that it was our responsibility to change the lives of South Africans. I identified two areas of serious disadvantage for black people in particular. These were social services, including education and social care (health, welfare etc) and justice. My interest was always on contributing to uplifting the 'underdog' and in those days, as it is today the marginalised were black people, women and young people. I chose social service as my own way of fighting injustice.
I am particularly interested in working with young people because in youth work lies the opportunity to do things better and take back the future. So while I am interested in HIV prevention, I am more interested in youth development that will ensure that no other social and health pathology in future will come close to destroying our nation like what apartheid did and HIV is doing."
WHAT ARE HER GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE? (Personal testimony)
"Today we know that it is possible to defeat even the most seemingly insurmountable enemy, like we did apartheid. Now the terrain has changed but the work is only beginning for us to free ourselves from the legacy of injustice. I would like to see a South Africa where young people contribute actively to the gross domestic product of the country and the country benefits from their 'un-colonised' minds and future orientation. Secondly, I would like to work more actively in the economic empowerment of women."