Volunteers for the program work hard to keep it sustainable. They harvest peanuts in March, grind them and sell jars of Peanut Butter to the community to support the kids activities and nourishment.
For children 12 years and younger, we use a holistic approach to create awareness of HIV and AIDS issues among children. In a 3 year curriculum, children develop a value system that helps them avoid contracting HIV. Children in church do the curriculum on Sundays while children in school do it at or after school during the week.
Adults and teenagers are taught primarily in the churches. At conferences, services and church meetings, leadership teams have agreed that at least 2 hours should be devoted to HIV Prevention Content.
We focus on reaching the whole child through a lesson curriculum which incorporates material and activities focusing on all aspects of a child’s life: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. The program runs midweek for all children in the community regardless of religion, race or economic position. All our programs are run by volunteers who we train from the local churches. Our core team offers a minimum of 4 days intensive training either to train the implementer or trainers.
Volunteers in each community help kids fetch firewood, wash laundry, cook meals, everything that needs to be done to keep kids healthy. We supply milk formula to infants orphaned while breastfeeding or those whose mothers are advised not to nurse due to their HIV status. We also train neighbors in how to care for the children around them. Families and community/church volunteers are given goats for nutritional supply. They are trained on how to milk and keep goats (goat milk in Zimbabwe is more affordable, sustainable and available than the traditional alternatives). This, along with food packs (mealie meal, dried fish, beans, cooking oil), is filling the bellies of 12,900 children on Zimbabwe dirt roads and hot streets.
The HOPE for AIDS team is also providing seed and fertilizer for children to grow their own crops. So far we have helped 5 communities develop cooperative gardens for their kids and babies in need. Of these 5, 180 children take turns to get vegetables from the garden each week. We are looking to develop 4 new gardens in the next year.
The school drop out rate among orphans in Zimbabwe is a staggering 80%. And, use of foreign currency which many rural folks cannot access is forcing many vulnerable children out of school. HOPE for AIDS tries to keep these children in school by paying their school fees and supplying exercise books and pens. When school is out, the team holds “Life Skills” Camps for children in each community. Each year, they look forward to games, sports, lessons and good counsel.
The Zimbabwe team cares for vulnerable children as their own. Well in body, mind and spirit, the kids in town know where their safe place is.
Any given night at 3 am, Brenda (Zimbabwe Home-Based Care Team Leader) receives a call from someone in need in the Mutare area. She may need to bandage a wound, set-up an IV or simply help someone bathe. She and her trained volunteers in 4 districts throughout Zimbabwe are known for their knowledge of healthy living and their confidence in supporting local people living with AIDS. The Mutare based Home-Based Care program establishes teams in churches throughout the region to care for and teach communities how to care for one another. They encourage their neighbors to be tested for HIV, help them find accessible treatment and share good practices with those on ARV treatment. Each team member assists families with food supplements, school fees, herbal remedies for common side effects and training for proper hygiene for caring for someone with AIDS.
Most churches now have teaching on HIV and AIDS in their preaching schedule and regularly take up a collection to support the work. Angela (our Enabling Officer) seeks out churches not yet recognizing HIV and AIDS accountability and seeks to establish church committees at the local and distric levels to oversee the work. Each church integrates all the components of the HOPE for AIDS efforts (Home-Based Care, Orphan Care and Prevention). Operating teams are trained to raise funds, keep accounting books, write project proposals, and other skills required to keep a multi-disciplinary program successful. We also teach a module on HIV and AIDS yearly at a Bible College (Rusitu Bible College) to equip training pastors with information so that they will establish or continue the HIV and AIDS ministry when they begin in their new ministry positions.
The team starts by identifyng skills the beneficiaries have and organising them to form groups to start their own income generating activities. Following, they help to find professional in the community who can assist with business strategies and training. And, finally, they work to provide starting capital for the business to ensure that they are self sustainable.