Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

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Zeelen J.,University of Groningen | Wijbenga H.,University of Groningen | Vintges M.,PHRU ANOVA Health Institute | de Jong G.,University of Groningen
Health Education | Year: 2010

Purpose: This paper aims to explore the role of a small-scale project around storytelling as a form of informal education in five health clinics in rural areas of the Limpopo Province in South Africa. The aim of the project is to decrease the stigma around HIV/AIDS and to start an open dialogue in local communities about the disease. Design/methodology/approach: This is an exploratory study using a qualitative approach, which was carried out in 2005/2006, that focused on perceptions of participants from the audience of the project and health practitioners. Findings: The research findings emphasize the importance of involvement of a storyteller who can play an influential role in local rural communities by breaking the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS and providing people with little or no education with simple but effective messages about the disease. Stories are embedded in local traditions and make use of metaphors, like dialogues between animals. Beside, stories are a form of "edutainment": education enriched with entertainment. Research limitations/implications: Owing to budgetary and time constraints insight into the impact of the project on the way the members of the audience protect themselves and deal with the essential issues of sexuality and relationships in their daily life as a result of storytelling was not gained. Originality/value: Owing to its personal approach a project around storytelling in rural areas in South Africa is vital, because it seems to suit the local context better than nationwide health educational programmes which are normally disseminated through mass education. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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