Lulisandla Kumntwana started working in June 2002. Currently 20 staff and many volunteers cover an area of about 30 kms wide and 125 kms long, with a population of about 95,000. 5393 orphans have been identified by the program and, so far, 3467 of them are receiving care.
The foundation of the project is the network of Family Support Teams. 56 teams with about 350 volunteers visit orphan families on a regular basis and offer practical, social, emotional and spiritual help.
The program is a registered fostering agency, which means that children are assisted to access birth and death documents and IDs of them and their parents; foster parents are screened, home situations investigated, and cases taken to the Children’s Court; children are placed in supervised foster care and then assisted to apply for the foster child grant.
Amongst many other monthly activities, the program offers psycho-social support workshops which help orphans to deal with the emotional trauma of losing their parents and also give life skills training. Foster parents’ workshops also take place including the memory box project with the orphans and a support group for HIV+ teens.
Pastoral coordinators counsel individuals and families, help staff and volunteers to develop their spiritual ministry and assist with workshops.
The program works closely with the local schools to further care for the needs of the orphans as well as identifying new orphans. 21 After School Clubs offer orphans help with homework, games and crafts and life skills. Career Days in high schools are facilitated and five youth clubs run a weekly program for youth hosting inter-club competitions and coordinated outings. Some clubs have started income generating projects.
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.