Teachers, in their relationship with children and their families, face challenges
related to cumulative risk, including HIV&AIDS. In this paper we use Sense of
Coherence to explain why teachers are able to address such barriers by using assets.
We explore the way that teachers (N=28) in four South African schools opted to
tackle the cumulative risk associated with HIV&AIDS, following participation in an
asset-based intervention (STAR – Supportive Teachers Assets and Resilience).
Data sources include six years’ longitudinal Participatory Reflection and Action
(PRA) data. Observation-in-the-context-of-interaction data was documented in
research diaries, field notes, visually as photographs and audiovisual recordings.
Informal conversational interviews, unstructured face-to-face interviews and focus
group interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. In the thematic analysis
HIV&AIDS-related barriers emerged as a socio-economic challenge that teachers
addressed by mobilising identified resources. Teachers’ experiences of barriers were
interwoven with narratives of confronting barriers by establishing school-based
support structures. This study provides empirical evidence for the theoretical
supposition that schools are well placed to function as intersections of care and
support in communities by theorising that teachers’ use of asset-based
competencies results in their experiencing eustress (rather than distress) when
faced with HIV&AIDS-related barriers, as they feel equipped to mediate the effects
of ongoing HIV&AIDS-related risk.