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LifeSkills Handbook Activity 37

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions altogether. The handbook is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, books and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 37
Fleet of Hope

Purpose of Activity

  • To discuss and explore sexual behaviour linked to HIV/AIDS with a focus on transmission of the virus through sexual intercourse (80% of cases).
  • To clarify the choices available to each of us.
  • To help children’s ability to adopt and maintain safer sexual behaviour.

Life Skills: Decision-making, Problem-solving, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Communication, Interpersonal Relationships, Self-awareness, Empathy, Coping with Stress & Emotion

Important Points

This is a powerful activity which develops all life skills. We have provided in italics guidelines on what the educator should say to help ensure that the learning points are clear. In order for this activity to be effective, children should be able to imagine a flood, a boat and an island. (It may not be such a good image in places where there is little experience of boats, a river, a lake or the sea or in areas near the sea where recent traumatic events have happened like the tsunami.) You may need to do a preparatory exercise to help with this by using pictures from magazines. You may also want to make time to do Activity 36 afterwards or in the next session.

Arrange the training area so that everyone can sit around the cloth or drawing representing the flood on the ground in the middle of the area. If this is not practical, hang the cloth or paper up on a wall or tree.

Think carefully about how long this activity will take with your group. You may want to divide the activity into two or three sessions.

This activity is adapted from a series of activities developed by Bernard Joinet and Peter Labouchere.


  • A piece of blue material/card/paper with three colourful boats either sewn or drawn on it. Cloth or paper pockets for those who are in the water.
  • A cut-out picture of a crocodile or monster (see below).
  • 25 or more cut-out card characters representative of different types of people in the local community. You can cut out pictures from magazines and stick them or drawn them onto card.
  • There should be a mix of age, sex, job and status.
    • Ensure one of the characters is a young man dressed in fashionable clothes.
    • Include a pregnant woman, a businessman and a woman with a baby on her back.
  • An island.
  • At least one blank sheet of paper or card for each child.
  • Pens.
  • Sticky tape or Blu-tack.


  1. Introduction

This is a story about a serious flood and how people in one community dealt with it. I will start the story, and then we will all develop it.

The waters of this flood have been rising for several years, flooding houses, villages, towns and whole countries. And the flood is still rising. (Lay the sheet on the ground). This is the flood, and in this flood, there may be some hidden dangers (put the crocodile or other monster on the sheet). This is a dangerous flood. It is the flood of HIV and AIDS.

At the beginning, people do not notice the flood coming. When they notice it, they do not know what caused it. Some people climb onto the roof of their house, or move to higher ground to escape the flood. But the flood waters keep rising.

  • How can you escape from a flood…? (Answer: On a boat.)

There are three different boats available for people to escape the flood called

  • Abstinence
  • Faithfulness; and
  • Condom.

  1. Discuss what each of these words and label each boat with the words (or with more commonwords and phrases used by the children).
  2. Continue the story.

Each person in the community can choose which boat they want to get on, depending on their culture, religion, character and way of life. Different people climb onto each of the three boats. The boats stay close together so that it is possible to change safely to another boat.

Some people are swimming in the flood water. Some did not notice the flood coming until it was too late. Others saw the flood waters coming, but found it very hard to leave their way of life and change their life, so the flood caught them. Some are trying hard to climb back onto the boats.

  1. Ask the children which boat would they choose? Go over the three choices Abstinence, Faithfulness and Condom. Children should be encouraged to choose the boat that suits them (remind them that they can change boats later). The important thing is to stay on the boats. For example, some people, even those with strong religious beliefs, find it hard to stay on the Abstinence and Faithfulness boats all the time. If they are not clear that the Condom boat is available, they may feel forced into the water which is dangerous.

You can have a break here.

  1. If children are unclear about the ways HIV and AIDS are transmitted add this game: place two cardboard characters, one male and one female into the abstinence boat. Explain that they met each other recently but they are now on the Abstinence boat. Ask them: If the following things happen, will these people stay safely on their boat or will they land up in the water?
    • They share cutlery (totally safe)
    • They hold hands/hug each other (totally safe)
    • They kiss (totally safe, unless they both have bleeding sores on their mouths)
    • A traditional healer cuts tattoos in them and several other people, one after another using the same knife (very risky – into the water)
    • The same mosquito bites them both (totally safe)
    • They have sex using a condom (very safe – on the condom boat. 99% safe if used properly)
    • They have unprotected sex (very risky – into the water, maybe head first, so just their feet are left sticking out – this adds humour and impact)
      Take the cardboard character of the pregnant woman and/or the woman with a baby on her back. Ask: If this woman is living with HIV/AIDS, what does this mean for her baby? (approximately 2/3 chance of baby being HIV negative, even if the mother has the HIV virus during pregnancy.)

You can have another break here.

  1. Introduce some of the people in the community. Give each of children one of the cut-out characters (except for the fashionably dressed young man). Try to give each child a figure that is very different from them.
  2. Ask children to introduce their character, to give them a name and to tell their story, and then to place them either in one of the three boats, or in the water. Ask children to say why they have put them there.
    • What are the issues facing that character to do with staying on or getting onto one of the boats?
    • How can we help this person to deal with issues/problems they are facing?
  3. Explain why some people change boats.

(Show a cardboard character who looks like a businessman.) This businessman has a faithful relationship with his wife and goes away on a business trip. He gets on the Abstinence boat. After a week away, he meets a pretty woman. If he decides to have sex with her, he must get on the Condom boat, otherwise he will take a dive into the water.

If you cannot face staying on the boat you are on, change boats. Just stay out of the water.

Using these characters, the discussion can develop in many directions, covering a range of different issues related to HIV and AIDS.

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