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South Africa |

The Mission

PHOLA provides psychosocial support to vulnerable and marginalised communities, such as people affected by HIV/AIDS and those who have experienced gender-based violence. The narrative therapies developed by founder Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo, such as Tree of Life and COURRAGE, leverage the strengths of local psychosocial healing practices. Using creative methods that often incorporate art, crafting and collective storytelling, they help those who have experienced trauma to reclaim their stories.

The Challenge

To sustain and expand their work, Phola needs to secure new funding but this is difficult to do without credible hard evidence that their methods work. With such a small team, carrying out formal evaluation is not feasible.

The Collaboration


We brokered a partnership between Ncazelo and Dr. Rochelle Burgess of the UCL Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, to conduct a study evaluating the impact of the COURRAGE Methodology. This study will provide Phola with the proof of impact needed to secure funding.

It has also meant that formalized partnerships have developed between Phola, UCL and the Gauteng/Johannesburg Departments of Health. These partnerships will enable collaborations on future research grants linked to the implementation of COURRAGE in primary health care settings.

As part of this process, members of the SHM Foundation's Project Khuluma team have received training in the COURRAGE and Tree of Life therapy methodologies.


We have worked with Phola to build confidence and capability in telling the story of their incredible work through different media. We supported Phola to set up and start using twitter, and conducted training on how to craft content that is compelling and true to the values and mission of your organisation.

We also worked with Phola to run a crowdfunding campaign in support of their Tree of Life work.

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