TESHO - Turn your not so great marriage into a thrilling one!



When I started work as a young medical doctor in 1985, there was 01 AIDS patient and a few HIV+ in the Littoral. The Littoral Region is one of the ten regions of Cameroon, a country on the West coast of Africa. Twenty years later, the number of PLWHA had risen to 130,000 persons (PDS of 2005) in this same region. The population of this coastal region is estimated at some two million nine hundred thousand inhabitants (2.9% projected growth rate for 2011 population) and an HIV prevalence rate of 5.5%.


In 2006, together with a few friends and family, we brainstormed on this question that begs an answer; “why is it that almost everyone can pass a written or oral examination on HIV awareness but this knowledge is not translated into effective HIV prevention?” That was when we came up with the TESHO (Team Spirit Holistic) concept.

The A, B, C principles of HIV prevention are fundamental and true – no argument about that. However, there are some obvious behavioral challenges that have to be addressed. We conceived the TESHO concept because we observed that HIV prevention in the home and community needs to be -





HIV prevention is TEAM WORK. No matter how faithful one partner is in a relationship, his/her individual faithfulness will not protect him/her from HIV.

Holistic because we need to address the many factors that fuel the spread of HIV in relationships. If not addressed, HIV prevention will forever be just theory.


The TESHO motto is “Getting Real. Working Together to Succeed”.

We realized that really listening to those infected or affected with HIV was getting real. When the population realized that we were not theoretical but understood what they were really going through in their daily lives, they then let us work together with them to get a solution to their HIV prevention dilemma.

Take condom use for example; the population needed answers to perplexing questions like:

“How do I convince my unfaithful partner to accept condom use in our relationship?”

“Are we going to use condoms for the rest of our marriage?”

“If yes, how do I convince him to use condoms that long in a context where various surveys have shown that men use condoms inconsistently to protect themselves during sex even when they know the partner with whom they are is not their regular married or cohabiting partner?

Fidelity in most relationships in sub-Saharan Africa is easier said than practiced. In Uganda between 1995 and 2006, the proportion of men and women who reported having had sex with someone other than their spouse or cohabiting partner increased from 12% to 16% in women, and from 29% to 36% of men. Dr Apuuli Kihumuno, head of the Ugandan AIDS commission said this, “Most countries, including Uganda, have targeted young people in prevention strategies, so now we have to change the emphasis because the demographics of the epidemic have changed”.

After hundreds of hours of interacting with those infected and affected by HIV, we found out that the answers to the following questions will determine the level of faithfulness of married or cohabiting couples. Some of these questions were:

“What if I realize I married or am cohabiting with the wrong partner”?

“What if my partner refuses to give me sex”?

“Can you first solve my marital problems before you talk to me about fidelity”?

“Do you mean to tell me I will stay faithful in this stale, monotonous, and sexless relationship for the rest of my life”?

We then conceived and tested TESHO program modules around the TESHO concept to address most of the issues fuelling the spread of HIV. We observed that energetically attacking HIV and transmitting knowledge without teaching practical life skills has been counterproductive as the statistics have proven. Our population in the Littoral had reached a stage where they had all the academic knowledge on HIV and were bored to tears when asked to listen to another lecture on the A, B , C of its prevention.

We started off counseling clients one on one. With the positive results that we obtained, we then decided to start group introductory presentations of the TESHO concept in a view to organizing TESHO workshops. During these introductory presentations, because of lack of time, the core module is presented and the other modules are just cited. The core module defines and explains the titles, roles and responsibilities of the spouses and their relationship to their children. With this core module as background, the other modules are listed. These include:

- Techniques of effective verbal and non-verbal communication in the home between spouses and between spouses and children.

- TESHO financial management to reduce stress in the home.

- Reconciliation in the home between spouses and between spouses and children

- TESHO adolescent module gives tips on how to relate to your teenager in an era of HIV, STD, drugs, peer pressure and other vices .

- TESHO for the workplace treats HIV prevention in the work place and how to reduce stress in the work environment through effective communication.

- TESHO prenuptial program prepares the young couple for the realities of married or cohabiting life.

- Sexuality in the sub-Saharan couple in an era of HIV prevalence. Even though the subject of sex is taboo in sub-Saharan Africa, TESHO treats sexuality of the partners in a way that is compatible with their norms and they do not feel threatened at all.

At the end of each introductory presentation, the participants tell us they realize that the TESHO program will meet their needs. By word of mouth, the news about TESHO has spread causing more and more people to invite us for these one hour introductory presentations. Below is a list of the groups that have invited and received TESHO introductory presentations and the names and contacts of the liaison persons who made all the arrangements to invite us.

Usually, at the end of our presentation, we pass round a sheet for participants to write down their names and contacts if they feel that TESHO will meet their needs and they will like to attend a TESHO workshop. Over 90% of the participants present at each workshop write down their names.

1 Baptist youths of the Trinity Baptist Church Mboppi Ali Simon 79 84 96 42/77 56 91 21
2 Female Pastors of the PCC Rev Fonki Pepertua 79 80 31 38
3 CWF Presbyterian church Bonaberi Mrs Nkieh Goghomu 77 77 64 08
4 Presbyterian church Ndobo Rev Kang Denis 77 94 85 32
5 Faith Bible church Mrs Atud Rose 77 21 41 55
6 Anglican Church Bepanda Mrs Geraldine Enukah 99 44 65 35
7 CWF Presbyterian church Bonamoussadi Mrs Ekpey Nkongho 99 88 81 27
8 CMF Presbyterian church Bonamoussadi Mr Mosenge Humphrey 77 20 28 78
9 Couples retreat PC Bonamoussadi Rev Fonki Samuel 70 40 49 25
10 PC Bepanda Health Center Mrs Mary Chia 77 20 01 15
11 CWF Presbyterian church Azire Mrs Timah Christina 77 66 62 84
12 CWF Presbyterian Church Nyen zone Mrs Fokam Florence 77 64 93 95
13 CWF PC Njembeng Mrs Bomako Clo 77 46 96 42
14 Les femmes reunies(in French) Dr Mafuta 75 46 23 18
15 CWF/CMF Leadership course Douala Mrs Assam Maria 77 92 41 45
16 CWF/CMF Leadership course Yaounde Mrs Epoh Cecilia 77 83 91 99
17 Pastors’ wives Limbe Mrs Asana Jenny 77 96 54 20
18 Christian Youth Fellowship Douala zone Mr Beltus Ebai 74 50 78 52
19 Fako North Pastors and spousal conference Rev Asana Festus 77 69 20 44/ 33 32 24 87
20 Les Celibataires de l’Eglise Evangelique du Cameroun(EEC) Deido Douala – in French Mr Nkempe Guy Bertrand 99 83 09 2577 11 62 99
21 Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF) Cite de la Paix Douala Elder Miranda Kien 99 57 01 14/ 77 77 96 64
22 English speaking Medical Doctors Association Douala Dr Ngwane Samuel 77 60 32 42
23 MECUDA Cite de la Paix Mr Sango Godlove 77 42 66 65
24 MECUDA Bonaberi Mr Tah Christopher 75 49 52 78
25 HIV peer educators of AES Sonel(in French) DR Dieuboue 79 50 65 43
26 Cadres de la Sante Publique du Littoral Dr Sume Gerard 74 18 01 11/ 98 00 94 15
27 Female Entrepreuneurs Limbe( Organized by African Developement Bank (ADB) in their GOWE Program Mrs Taku Bibiana 99 96 29 84
28 Parents of Nouvelle Espoir primary and secondary school(in French) Mrs Kabangu Imelda 96 96 73 45/77 72 16 78
29 Reunion Entente(in French) Mrs ChebouDr Mbeumo 77 79 33 1999 91 20 17
30 CWF Douala zone-preparation of new members Mrs Edith Mbuh 77 23 99 88
31 Presbyterian Church Nsimeyong Yaounde Rev Masok EmmanuelMrs Fohtung Winifred 77 85 90 1977 63 16 66/99 69 02 77
32 HIV Peer Educators Socapalm Mbongo(in French) Dr Towa 70 06 29 13
33 CWF women of Edea Zone Mrs Chofor Catherine 97 62 22 79
34 CMF Presbyterian Church Bonaberi Mr Aboh 70 27 62 32
35 Workers of ADDAX Petroleum Company Mrs Oben Rose 77 09 65 50
36 District Medical Officers (DMOs) of the Littoral Dr Vandi 99 96 06 47/76 08 32 67
37 TEFON Company- one day workshop for the wives of the workers(safety starts at home) Mr Fon Thaddeus(General Manager of the TEFON Oilfield Services company) 77 60 39 39
38 PC NTA – Preparing couples for marriage Rev Anye Glory 77 46 19 65
39 CWF PC New Town Airport Elder Anna Ndubu 77 96 06 58
40 CYF EMS Leadership course Mrs Nda Ernestine 77 13 25 82


In essence, the TESHO program takes the A,B,C principles of HIV prevention and translates them into the techniques of HIV prevention. TESHO is an interactive bilingual (French and English) program between facilitators and participants. It teaches practical, simple, applicable life skills to participants in the field of HIV prevention. There are many programs for PLWHA which is laudable because they need a lot of support. However, there are almost non-existent on-going programs for those who are HIV negative so they can build relationships that will keep them negative. TESHO is there to fill that important gap. Other benefits of the TESHO program include better communication between spouses and colleagues in general so that even the HIV positive or discordant couples can develop harmony in their relationships. This will prevent them from leaving a miserable relationship to go propagate the disease. It thus reduces divorce and all the ills that follow a marriage or a cohabiting relationship gone sour like delinquent and street kids.

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