On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577
BACKGROUND: Both non-governmental organisations and governmental organisations are very involved in the development and implementation of community empowerment programmes (CEPs). Because of various health issues within the community, 10 CEPs were launched in Ladysmith with a focus on addressing the particular needs of HIV-affected and -infected members. Of the 10 programmes, however, only four were deemed sustainable after five years. OBJECTIVES: The researcher explored the lived experiences of HIV community workers participating in two CEPs in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal in order to develop recommendations for CEPs. METHOD: Data were explored using a qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Ten participants who had been involved in HIV CEPs for more than six months were identified and individual interviews were held. RESULTS: Three themes emerged, namely, giving of yourself, maintaining sustainability and assisting the CEPs and community workers. Each of these themes also contained a number of subthemes. Exploring the lived experience of the community workers revealed that there are a number of ways in which to promote the sustainability of CEPs. CONCLUSION: The community should be involved in all aspects of the CEP and community workers must respect the community and their knowledge, experience and value systems.