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Fostering Resilience

The Stephen Lewis Foundation works with community-based organizations turning the tide of HIV & AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2003, the SLF has disbursed over $89 million to support over 1,400 initiatives with over 300 community-based organizations in fifteen countries. The ultimate impact of our partners’ work has been to resurrect the lives and foster the resilience of people and communities that have been hardest hit by the epidemic, especially women, people living with HIV & AIDS, children orphaned by AIDS, and their grandmothers. These community-based organizations provide education and counseling about HIV prevention, care and treatment; distribute food, medication and other necessities; reach into the homes of the sick and vulnerable with home-based care; help children orphaned by AIDS gain access to education and cope with their grief; and support grandmothers, who are overwhelmingly the caregivers for their orphaned children.

Our CBO partners have always understood that what is fundamentally at stake in the response to the HIV & AIDS epidemic is ‘resilience’: people’s ability to cope with crisis, to regroup and rebuild, and to continue on with their lives.

SLF partnerships are enabling immediate investments in service delivery to translate, over time, into more substantial, longer terms benefits for people and their communities. Immediate needs are met through SLF support to help cope with crisis: entry into treatment, entry into school, adequate nutrition, adequate housing, and counseling and therapy. Once those needs are met, further investment is made to help individuals and communities regroup and rebuild, in areas such as income generation, medical care, and positive living. Throughout this process, particular attention is paid to psychological and emotional well-being, and the bonds that connect people — be they nurturing relationships within families, social networks created through child, youth, and grandmother support groups, or community organizations.

With this comprehensive support, stability begins to return. Children stay in school, HIV positive people stay on treatment, families are functioning, and small but reliable incomes are being produced. And, ultimately, there are signs that people have recuperated to the extent that they have regained their self-determination and can take active control over their own lives — children graduate from school and start working, women become community leaders, groups advocate with their governments to claim their rights.

The Progress of Resilience

Coping with Crisis Regrouping & Rebuilding Self-Determination
  • Immediate survival needs are met
  • Physical and emotional suffering is reduced
  • Individuals’ capacity to manage their lives is enhanced
  • Grief and trauma are managed
  • Relationships and community organizations are strengthened
  • Life “milestones” are reached
  • Individuals take on leadership roles
  • Community structures and services expand
  • Advocacy and engagement with government

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