The Society for Women and AIDS in Africa Lesotho (SWAALES) was established in 1997 after founding members attended a meeting of Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) in 1989. The meeting underlined the importance of African women’s involvement in HIV and AIDS prevention, care and support work. The organisation was then legally registered in 2003 and came into existence with members who wanted to contribute to the national call to address the impact of HIV and AIDS at the community level. SWAALES vision is to be a leading community based organization in providing care and support to strengthen vulnerable groups. Its mission is contributing to the alleviation of physical, emotional suffering and discrimination of all vulnerable groups in the community infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and other opportunistic ailments. SWAALES has implemented Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) care and support programs since the beginning of 2006.
SWAALES started operating in the two districts of Maseru and Leribe and has since expanded to Berea, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek. It is its plan to cover the entire country. The initial substantive funding received by the organization had been received from Pact Lesotho, supported by President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through. It is through this support that the SWAALES implemented HIV & AIDS prevention as well as OVC care & support programs. The projects were implemented across the 19 program sites of Leribe, Berea, Maseru, Mafeteng Mohales Hoek. The project targeted over 2000 OVC and their caregivers. These children were able to access support services they need, which included but not limited to education, Early Childhood development, health referrals, psychosocial support, vocational training, legal support, economic strengthening, social support, food and nutrition through provision of supplementary feeding and construction of keyhole gardens.
The organization also implemented a well-integrated OVC livelihood initiatives project in Siloe Mohales ‘Hoek supported by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). The goal of the project was to holistically improve lives of OVC and their caregivers in Siloe in Mohale’s Hoek district. The project which ran for a year in 2012-2013 targeted 1500 OVC and their caregivers, whilst in 2014/2015 the project targeted 2500 OVC and their caregivers. The project activities addressed the seven main objectives or areas of strengthening the economic status of households of OVC and their caregivers, improve the nutritional status of households of OVC and their caregivers, provide psychosocial support services including life-skill education and HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC), and HIV prevention services, increase OVC and caregivers access to health care including PMTCT and ART services, provide educational support to OVC, provide legal protection support to OVC and their caregivers, and ensure sustainability through strengthening the community systems.