Monyetla Centre

Early in 2010, Lake Union Crew Outreach Foundation established an HIV testing and education program for the students, their families and the staff of Holy Names High School in Lesotho. The development of this new program came out of a previous partnership with the school to build a 4,000 square foot multi-purpose hall on site in 2009. During that time it became clear that the students at the school were not able to easily access the limited options currently available from the government for HIV testing, education and support.


Lesotho is a small land locked nation completely surrounded by South Africa. Crippled by extreme poverty, it has the third highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world. In 2007, the World Health Organization estimated that 23.2% of the people in Lesotho were infected with HIV and only 45% of people in need of HIV medications were receiving them. In the Berea district, where the school is located, only 8% of people over the age of 12 knew their HIV status.

According to UNAIDS, young people aged 15-24 years account for nearly half of all new HIV infections worldwide. The World Bank cites education as the most important factor for stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS among youth. Despite these facts, there is sporadic education in schools about HIV and no known comprehensive testing and support program integrated into schools in Lesotho. With national education campaigns struggling due to an overburdened system, and HIV and sex education not being subjects commonly tackled in the home, there is a serious gap in service affecting the most at risk segment of the population – youth.

Many barriers have been cited by youth about going to a Voluntary Testing and Counseling (VCT) center to be tested for HIV. These include: expense and travel time, waiting time, confidentiality concerns, pressure from staff to notify their parents, and inadequate response from healthcare providers for youth-centered support and services.

Schools are a perfect venue to reach a large percentage of youth in a community due to the advantage of an existing institution. Having an on-site VCT center and comprehensive support services that are youth-friendly is an innovative approach and increases the reach and impact of existing medical services. By integrating into the existing education and medical systems, this low-cost approach has great potential for success and replication at other schools.

The Monyetla “ Opportunity” Program

To help increase the number of students who know their HIV status and improve their access to education and resources, Lake Union Crew Outreach Foundation established the Monyetla Centre on the school grounds. “Monyetla” means “opportunity” in Sesotho. Not only does this program provide opportunities for students to get youth-friendly testing, treatment and education services, but also for peers to emerge as leaders in the school community and learn skills and training that are valuable after graduation.

Goal & Principles

The goal of the Monyetla Centre is that all students at Holy Names High School know their HIV status, are provided with the tools to mitigate the effects of HIV, and therefore have an opportunity to reach their full potential.

To reach that goal, the program focuses on the following four areas:

  • Provide on-site rapid HIV testing and pre/post test counseling to every student at the beginning of each school year.
  • Support students who test positive by accompanying them to medical appointments at a nearby community health clinic. For those who need antiretroviral medications, provide secure storage of their medications at the centre, daily medication support and weekly adherence education sessions.
  • Educate students and their families, teachers and school staff on HIV related issues and set up HIV education curricula for in class learning.
  • Provide leisure-based programs to students outside of the classroom with a focus on life skills.

In order to deliver effective, youth-friendly services, the activities developed, implemented and evaluated by the Monyetla Centre will be done with the following principles in mind:

  • Knowledge is empowering
  • Students are the main collaborative partners
  • Interventions should address the holistic health of the student
  • Everyone should be treated with respect and without judgment

Holy Names High School graduate Mosiuoa Monethi is the Monyetla Centre Director.  Mosiuoa first partnered with LUCOF during the construction project at HNHS in 2008-09, showing his leadership among the volunteers and local student body alike.  Since then he has trained with a professional HIV/AIDS counselor and is now actively testing students and providing counseling and HIV/AIDS education.

For more information, please contact us.

To support this program, please visit our donation page.