Page: 1 INTRODUCTION: Mamonaheng Grace Matlhape Being a Social Worker by profession, Grace has always been actively involved with the health and welfare of the South African Society. 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. High HIV infection rates in South Africa are directly related to unprotected sexual intercourse. Research has shown that the greatest returns for HIV prevention programmes would be to target teenagers before they become sexually active. 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. Grace has worked diligently to ensure that loveLife is not just another campaign. She ensures that our services are available to youth in deep rural communities that do not have access to health services. These programmes include, a National Toll Free Helpline; The National Adolescent Friendly Clinic Initiative (making Public Health Clinics youth friendly) as well as Programmes which encourage continued face to face interaction with young people by providing them with communication and problem solving skills; sport and recreation programmes; information on health and sexuality, motivational programmes, which inspire young people to be future focused and driven. These programmes provide young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make informed choices and remain HIV negative. Page: 2 Because of her extensive social work experience, Grace has ensured that the unheard voices of young people are addressed by our programmes. Through Grace‟s leadership, the organisation has implemented these programmes 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.” WHAT MAKES GRACE A ROLE MODEL? Grace is a role model in that she has emerged as a leader because of her tenacity, drive and ability. She has a sound educational background, and extensive years of experience, which is reflected in her efforts. She challenges boundaries and sets new heights for herself personally and professionally. Her future orientation allows her to provide insight and different perspectives on the issues that confront South Africans at large. Her undying optimism and idealist mentality motivates and inspires all that know her. She lives a balanced lifestyle and is able to easily juggle the demands of her career, academic aspirations and relationships with family and friends. She ensures that the loveLife values first touch the lives of her own children because social reform is the foundation that every parent should commit to in their own home. It is evident in her choice of career that social reform is a vocation for Grace. The future of South Africa rests squarely on the shoulders of young people and Grace has chosen to dedicate her life to the betterment of youth. Page: 3 Issued by: loveLife Fareed Mohammed – Public Relations Officer (079 597 9374) Telephone: 011 523 1000 Fax 011 523 1001 Date: 19 March 2009 On behalf of: loveLife, David Harrison, (CEO) loveLife new CEO 2/2 About loveLife 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.