Health Campaign in Lesotho Energizes Community

A billboard featuring Kamohelo, a Pusha Love Ambassador.

“People are tired of health campaigns that tell them what to do without even asking what they want. We want to give people options and introduce fresh, new ways of communicating about health,” says Itumeleng Mafa, a member of the Pusha Love community. “Just look at how we launched this movement – not with speeches but with unexpected, high energy events.”

Pusha Love, a new health campaign created by LETLAMA (Lesotho Together Against HIV and AIDS Partnership), kicked off in January with a string of events, including flash mobs, live mannequins, graffiti chalk art and live music.

Pusha Love celebrates healthy living as a means to achieve individual dreams and promises to change the way people think about health, relationships and what it means to love. It promotes healthy lifestyle choices, creates space for dialogue, challenges accepted norms and motivates people to adopt new behaviors.

The campaign is grounded as a social movement led by community members and uses real people to communicate how healthy choices contribute to individual and community success. At each stage of the campaign, Pusha Love will showcase individuals that reflect its theme. In this way, Pusha Love hopes to show that role models exist in every community.

“We decided to feature real people who are working every day to fulfill the ideals of the Pusha Love movement,” explains Manthani Phomane, the Pusha Love spokesperson. “These people have real stories about the challenges most of us face when we’re trying to improve our lives. How each of them is working to overcome these challenges and stay on-track to achieve success is really inspiring.”

Pusha Love includes a radio magazine component called Pusha Love Blomas where listeners can tune-in to hear peoples’ stories and add their voice to the conversation. It is also producing the S’moko Feela radio drama, which launched in late 2012. Over the coming months, it will establish youth clubs called Pusha Love Chomees, which will connect young people with the cause, engage communities in the conversation and work with clients to promote healthy options for their employees.

“Eventually, Pusha Love will be everywhere. So people should be on the lookout for opportunities to join the movement,” says Manthani.

LETLAMA is a five-year project supported by PEPFAR. Led by Population Services International (PSI), in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (CCP), the Lesotho Ministry of Health and a consortium of local organizations, it aims to improve the health of the Basotho people by reducing the incidence of HIV through the promotion of protective behaviors and support for healthier social norms.

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