In 2014 after the UNITAR CIFAL-supported workshop entitled "Enhancing a victim-centered approach, the River of Life Initiatives was adopted to address gender-based violence and its health and psycho-social consequences among boys and men and their sexual partners especially among victims and survivors of drugs, HIV, and human trafficking in the Philippines.

The ROLi methodology was developed in 2012 by John Piermont Montilla, founder of Kabataang Gabay sa Positibong Pamumuhay that employs the "Meaningful Engagement of People At-risk" or MEPA process for its behavior change communications work. Inspired by the GIPA/MIPA and Denver Principles, MEPA aims in putting collective personal experiences of “victimization and survivorship” into a unique methodology in engaging peers in helping each rise up their dark past and address their vulnerabilities.

Using the ROLi Young Key Population Scorecard Tool, it offers strategies and tactics integrated with elements of game playing in the context of risk reduction (e.g., risk scoring, competition, collaborative work, and completion of tasks and quests) that help drive behavior change and interaction with service providers.

In 2014, ROLi was selected by the World Health Organization as a good practice example of service delivery to key populations in the consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations.

Get to Zero and Be a Hero Tools

The ROLi learning packages comes with four tools, these are the: (1) “I” journal workbook, (2) self assessment of risk behavior checklist, (3) Individual ROLi template, and (4) the peer group ROLi template. 

The “I” Journal workbook is a confidential daily journal that documents activities and secures dream building, self assessments, and individual river of life outputs.

The self assessment of risk behavior is a confidential self-administered template consists of several risk behaviors or practices of a certain key population or community groups. Each behavior are assigned with a level of risk based on frequency of risk practice with 5 = extreme, 4 = very high, 3 = high, 2 low, 1 = very low and 0 = zero risk levels.

The River of Life template on the other hand is a tool that transforms the Self Assessment into a creative visual in a form of a river. The template has two opposite sides, the danger side and the safer side and the area in between is divided into a number of competencies representing behaviors or practices as reflected in the self assessment tool. Each competency area are further divided into six steps starting from the danger side toward the safer side. The steps represents a six-level risk assigned for each behavior inspired by a degree of emotions from sad to happy emoticons that are described into extreme (5), very high (4), high (3), low (2), very low (1) and zero (0) risks.

Risk scores from the self assessment are then plotted in the river color coded red, areas above the scores are color coded green representing the areas requiring intervention and areas below the scores are color coded blue representing the areas achieved.

The individual river of life is aimed at helping the victim develop a (river-like) visual that illustrates his own risk status and the peer group river of life is aimed at helping the group develop visuals that illustrates the risk status of the group after plotting all their individual risk scores in one template. The output shows, who among the members are located at the safer side (members who have something to share) and who among them located at the danger side (members who have something to learn). From there on, peer helping activities are stimulated by tasking those members in the safer side to reach out those in the danger side until such a time that all members arrive in the safe side of the river of life.

The tools are self-administered at least twice a year or at most four times a year and outputs are compared and outcomes are interpreted into stepping stones assigned for current risk scores, capstones are for the change objectives, touchstones are for the achieved objectives, milestones for the progression from the danger side to the safer side and millstones when the risk level is maintained or relapsed toward the danger side.