2015
By

VST BENEFICIARIES RECEIVED EQUIPMENT WORTH $4600

Recently,with support from Swiss AIDS Care International(SACI), Africaid Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Program (VST) handed over equipment worth $4 600 to the program beneficiaries at Zvandiri Centre in Avondale,Harare.

The equipment which were handed over include sterilizers,tables,chairs,fabrics,sewing machines,hair clippers,mirrors among others.

Addressing adolescents and young people who were present,the Country Director for Newlands Clinic Matthias Widmaier encouraged the beneficiaries to utilize the equipment they were given so that they will bring change in the entrepreneurship field.

Mercy (not her real name) said she is happy to have something she can use to deliver what she was taught before by Africaid Zvandiri and other partners.

Africaid Zvandiri Founder and Executive Director Nicola Willis handing over a sewing machine to the Vocational Skills Training Beneficiary with the Vocational Skills Training Tonderai Rupiya.

Africaid Zvandiri Founder and Executive Director Nicola Willis handing over a sewing machine to the Vocational Skills Training Beneficiary with the Vocational Skills Training Officer Tonderai Rupiya.

“For me to have a sewing machine was just a dream and l never knew that one day the dream will manifest,l was trained by Africaid Zvandiri on livelihoods but the major challenge was to own the equipment which l have to use but l want to thank our funders and Africaid for making sure that adolescents and young people living with HIV have something they can lean on in terms of employment” said Mercy,a VST beneficiary.

In an effort to improve the socio-economic status of young people living with HIV, Africaid continues to offer vocational skills training and mentorship. This has been made possible through financial and technical support from Swiss AIDS Care International (SACI) in collaboration with Newlands Clinic. The project is a response to the critical need to assist young people living with HIV to secure gainful employment and an income to support themselves both now and in the future. The intervention targets young people with minimal academic qualifications.

2015
By

JUNIOR PARLIAMENTARIANS & AFRICAID IN WAR AGAINST HIV STIGMA IN SCHOOLS.

HARARE- The Ministry of Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in collaboration with the 2014-2015 Junior Member of Parliament for Budiriro Constituency Honourable Evans Rwambiwa invited Africaid Zvandiri to present at an awareness campaign on sexual immorality and early child marriages targeting adolescents and young people in school.

Junior Member of Parliament for Budiriro Constituency Honourable Evans Rwambiwa (Left),Maximina Jokonya Africaid Zvandiri Provincial Mentor(centre) and Chairperson for the Portfolio of Health and Child Care Honourable Tariro Mutawarira at Budiriro 1 High School,Harare,Zimbabwe

Junior Member of Parliament for Budiriro Constituency Honourable Evans Rwambiwa (Left),Maximina Jokonya Africaid Zvandiri Provincial Mentor(centre) and Chairperson for the Portfolio of Health and Child Care Honourable Tariro Mutawarira (Right) at Budiriro 1 High School,Harare,Zimbabwe

Africaid-Zvandiri Community Adolescent Treatment Supporter(CATS) presented on HIV related stigma in schools and this was also a golden platform for the young people in schools to know about the “soldier game” a learning tool which is used to show the importance of adhering well to medication by the CATS.

Adressing hundreds of students at Budiriro 1 High School, the guest of Honour, Chairperson for the Portfolio of Health and Child Care Honourable Tariro Mutawarira said adolescents and young people living with HIV should not hide their feelings, they should feel free since they attend support groups which are being coordinated by Africaid.

2014-2015 Honourable Members of the Junior  Parliament for HWATA Constituency.

2014-2015 Honourable Members of the Junior Parliament for HWATA Constituency.

“Although adolescents and young people living with HIV are facing stigma and discrimination, those stigmatizing them are going to be equipped with HIV related information since guidance and counselling lessons are going to be revived in schools as soon as the new curriculum is in all schools” said Honourable Tariro Mutawarira.

Under the same blanket, recently, Africaid Zvandiri was also invited to present on HIV related Stigma to HIV & AIDS Club pupils at a primary school which is located about 22 kilometres from the Zvandiri House after one of our support group members faced stigma within a school set up.

“Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is the chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world” said the UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon.

HIV related Stigma is a process of discrediting an individual on the basis of known or suspected HIV status, the process entails attaching a negative label and devaluing of a person by another and the label may be based on a partial truth or completely false information.

The effects of stigma include: reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care, complicate decisions about HIV disclosure and ART leading to early deaths. Makes it difficult for children, adolescents and young people to come to terms and manage illness / HIV status.

2015
By

“CATS, UNIQUE EXAMPLE OF YOUTH PARTICIPATION”: INTERNATIONAL HIV/AIDS ALLIANCE SENIOR ADVISER.

HARARE-The International HIV/AIDS Alliance Senior Adviser for Children and Adolescents Kate Iorpenda said the Community Adolescents Treatment Supporters (CATS) model is a unique example of youth participation especially in HIV programming worldwide.

The African Youth Charter Article 11 stipulates that every young person shall have the right to participate in all spheres of society.

“It has been an amazing week to see the reality of what l have heard about for a long time. l have learnt an incredible amount of things and this is a very unique example of youth participation in action at different levels within the Africaid’s structure through the Community Adolescents Treatment Supporters (CATS).” said Kate Iorpenda,a Senior Adviser for Children and Adolescents at International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

OSSA SRH Advisor,Frehiwot Abebe (Left). Senior Adviser for Children and Adolescents at International HIV/AIDS Alliance,Kate Iorpenda(Center) and the Regional Adviser Africa on the Link Up Programme,Georgina Casewell (Right) at Africaid Zvandiri House in Harare,Zimbabwe

OSSA SRH Advisor,Frehiwot Abebe (Left). Senior Adviser for Children and Adolescents at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance,Kate Iorpenda(Center) and the Regional Africa Adviser for the Link Up Programme,Georgina Casewell (Right) at Africaid Zvandiri House in Harare,Zimbabwe

In an interview with our own correspondent, Kate heralds that it was amazing to see young people in action at different levels having reporters, advocates and many adolescents working on the group in an attempt to create an enabling environment for young people living with HIV in Zimbabwe.

Frehiwot Abebe, Sexual Reproductive Health Adviser at the Organisation for Social Service for AIDS (OSSA) in Ethiopia postulated that she had a fruitful time at Zvandiri,she learnt different interventions at practical level and in many countries she visited so far she have not yet come across an organisation which operate like Africaid Zvandiri.

“I was pleased with the way you capture data and l had a pleasant time with the advocates and they are the ones who spearhead the Zvandiri projects at all levels. In Ethiopia adolescents and young people are not free to talk about their HIV status if you talk about SRH,HIV & AIDS the majority of them they start to cry but here at Africaid Zvandiri adolescents and young people are free to share their experiences” said Frehiwot Abebe, OSSA SRH Adviser.

“When we had a discussion with the adolescents and young people who are actively participating in the Vocational Skills Training Program,they share with us about their personal experience, this is a clear sense of a high goal and it inspired me a lot.

“One of the key things l learnt was from the vocational skills training especially around linking the course to the business.l have a vision of seeing these adolescents and young people receiving grants to start businesses. It sounds logical but this does not happen easily.” said Georgina Casewell, the Regional Africa Adviser for the Link Up Programme.

Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) have been trained and mentored since 2009 to provide community based adherence monitoring and counselling for their HIV Positive Peers. This training was made possible through the Ministry of Health and Child Care. A team of 35 HIV positive adolescents provide daily support for their HIV positive peers and this has proved to be an extremely powerful approach for supporting adolescents to develop counselling skills and experience, five of the original team members have moved on to further their education including nursing, dental nursing and social work.

The CATS have become the foundation of the Zvandiri Model. They really are setting the standard for the provision of appropriate, accessible, sustainable prevention, treatment, care and support services. Working within their own communities, they are creating a safety net with which their HIV peers can be supported through HIV testing and counselling, disclosure, starting treatment on ARVs, and difficulties with adherence, stigma and discrimination and relationship challenges. They are doing phenomenal work and strengthening the capacity of local clinics.

2015
By

AFRICAID ZVANDIRI VST PROGRAMME ALTERING YOUNG PEOPLE’S LIVES.

Unemployment is the most universal challenge faced by young people in Zimbabwe due to the socio-economic collapse, young people in Zimbabwe constitute more than 60 percent and the rate of unemployment is witnessed in the same group.

As a result of unemployment young people are indulging in various practices these include drug abuse, violence and crime, promiscuity leading to prostitution where they end up contracting and transmitting Sexually Transmitted Infections which can be injurious to their health.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2010/11 the HIV prevalence rate for young people between the age of 15-24 is 5.5 % and the majority of adolescents and young people living with HIV are orphans and vulnerable.

It is important to note that, because of HIV-Related Stigma in young people living with HIV, they are finding it difficult to be employed, even though they have necessary qualifications and skills.

In an effort to improve the socio-economic status of young people living with HIV, Africaid continues to offer vocational skills training and mentorship. This has been made possible through financial and technical support from Swiss AIDS Care International (SACI) in collaboration with Newlands Clinic. The project is a response to the critical need to assist young people living with HIV to secure gainful employment and an income to support themselves both now and in the future. The intervention targets young people with minimal academic qualifications.

Africaid Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme Beneficiaries.

Africaid Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme Beneficiaries.

“The Vocational Skills Training program is a pillar in the lives of beneficiaries; finally they have something to lean on in terms of their socio-economic aspects. Some might have stress because they do not have anything to put on the table but through this initiative they get an income which supports themselves and their families since some of them are breadwinners” said the Vocational Skills Training Officer, Mr Tonderai Rupiya.

Amongst the groups which were trained, a team of 3 young people (2 Females and 1 Male) from 2013 intake are implementing the skills they acquired from the Interior Décor Course.

Enock Tapiwa Mhembere (24), Roseline Gamuchirai Nyamuda (24) and Magret Bayiwota (24) are the beneficiaries from Harare who were trained under the Zvandiri Vocational Skills Training Programme.

“Before Africaid VST programme l used to stay with my guardian,l tried to look for a job but l could not find any.l got $10 and l looked for a place to rent in Mbare. I started to buy oil in bulk on credit and sale it in small containers.

“I was asked by Africaid about my life and l told them everything, they introduced me to the VST Programme where l was trained to be a professional in the interior décor industry.” said Enock Tapiwa Mhembere a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

Many young people have gained confidence to stand amongst other people because of this initiative.

“As young mothers we have gained more experience since we were trained to do interior décor and we are now empowered and employed, things are hard but we can look after our lives and the welfare of our families.” said Roseline Gamuchirai Nyamuda,a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

140 young people were recruited and trained by Hands of Hope Institute and Harare Polytechnic College. The young people completed courses in 12 different professional courses. 79%) of the students are now actively employed and / or running their own income generating businesses. As part of capacity building and mentorship support, business trainings were held in 2014 so that young people can have the requisite skills and knowledge to successfully run their businesses. The trainings were mainly focused on entrepreneurship, personal branding, financial literacy and bookkeeping.

It is of paramount significance to note that the Vocational Skills Training Program does not equip the beneficiaries with entrepreneurship skills only but all the young people who were trained now have high self-esteem.

“We want to thank those who helped us to be trained, as young people who were equipped with interior décor skills, we also want to train the next batch of adolescents and young people on interior décor .We also want to acknowledge Africaid because they helped us to discover our talents and they natured them, now we can stand confident in front of other people.” said Magret Bayiwota, a beneficiary of the Vocational Skills Training Programme.

Today, in the face of economic challenges the group members are now able to take good care of their families.

2015
By

‘Adhere to Treatment & Pray for Good Health’: ADOLESCENTS & YOUNG PEOPLE

Many adolescents and young people are defaulting on treatment as a result of faith healing. Adolescents and young people should continue to adhere well to their medication even if they are told that they are healed from HIV.

Addressing hundreds of adolescents and young people at a youth group which was organised and supported by Africaid at Zvandiri Centre, Trisha a 20 year old girl encouraged adolescents and young people to adhere to their medication even if they are told that they are healed from HIV.
hiv-aids-medication
“What the religious healers are saying and doing is not right but adolescents and young people must take their medication and pray to God so that they can be healthy. What l can encourage adolescents and young people is to pray whilst taking their medication correctly and consistently” said Trisha.

“At my church if they tell me to do away with my medication l will not comply, what l know is that l should adhere well to my medication. I also participate in church programmes and even if l am the only man present at that time l will continue with my task despite my HIV status” said Madzibaba Michael a member of the apostolic sect and Zvandiri.

In an interview with Radio Zimbabwe, Africaid Zvandiri Programmes Officer Charity Maruva reported that adolescents and young people living with HIV face many challenges including stigma and discrimination, default on treatment as a result of faith healing among others.

“If adolescents default on treatment their health deteriorates and we have received many cases through our Community Adolescents Treatment Supporters initiative of adolescents and young people who are defaulting on treatment as a result of faith healing” said Charity Maruva.

She also added that Africaid works with different categories of adolescents and young people,some of them were born before Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission was introduced.

“The majority of adolescents and young people we work with as Africaid Zvandiri are accepting their status and some of them are in universities, some are getting married knowing that being HIV positive is not the end of the world.” she said.

According to UNAIDS, in the early 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, people living with HIV were not likely to live more than few years. However, with the development of safe and effective drugs, HIV positive people now have longer and healthier lives. Currently available drugs do not cure HIV infection but they do prevent the development of AIDS. They can stop the virus being made in the body and this stops the virus from damaging the immune system, but these drugs cannot eliminate HIV from the body. Hence, people with HIV need to continuously take antiretroviral drugs. The use of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy has dramatically improved the quality of life for people with HIV and prevented them from dying early.

In line with the Guidelines for Antiretroviral Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in Zimbabwe (2013), up to 52% of children die before the age of two years in the absence of any intervention. By five years of age as much as 75% of HIV positive children will be dead if they are not initiated on ART. The goal of ART for children is to increase survival and decrease HIV-related morbidity and mortality.

2015
By

HIV is in the Blood,NOT in the Brain

“Africaid Zvandiri Programme and the Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV & AIDS invented my self-esteem as a young girl living with HIV”

Twenty-two- year-old Loyce Maturu never thought she could be a peer educator, national trainer and an advocate with Africaid Zvandiri and the Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV and AIDS. As long as she can continue on medication, she is geared to out-rival in all spheres of society despite her HIV status.

From left Jane Ferguson,Loyce Maturu and Christy Feig,WHO Director for Communications at WHO Headquarters in Geneva

From left Jane Ferguson,Loyce Maturu and Christy Feig,WHO Director for Communications at WHO Headquarters in Geneva


For many young girls dressing in extravagant clothes, shower with virtuous fragranced deodorizers and going out with friends practicing group socializing brings satisfaction of a girlhood stage but for the 22 year old girl everything turned to sour when she knew her HIV status at the age of 13 and disclosed at the age of 17 when she faced discrimination from relatives and friends.

Her parents died in 2000 in the same month, in 2007 she felt sick to an extent of being bed bound and admitted to Suburban Medical Centre for three days and that’s when she was tested HIV positive. During post counselling the nurse informed her that she was born with HIV, her mother and her brother died as an upshot of HIV related illness.

She went to New lands clinic where she received treatment, she joined a support group called Zvandiri meaning accept me as l am. When the Zvandiri Programme started it had 5 adolescents but up to date there are also other Zvandiri support groups in Manicaland, Harare, Manicaland and Bulawayo.

In 2009 Africaid received a project proposal targeting young people out of school who are keen to support other peers. Loyce was selected to be part of the team to assist young people in Warren Park. She was trained on Counselling and did clinical attachment at Newlands Clinic under the programme well known as the Community Adolescents Treatment Supporters (CATS) As she was one of the peer Councillors in Warren Park, National AIDS Council District AIDS Coordinator liaised with Africaid office so that Loyce can represent Young People Living with HIV in the Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV and AIDS at district level. Currently she is also representing Young People Living with HIV at district, provincial and at national level in the network.

“Before l accept a love proposal firstly l tell the person about my status so that they know the kind of person they are dating and not to be shocked when they see me on TV, Pamphlets, Booklets and on radio because l speak on different platforms about my HIV status and advocating on behalf of my peers at different forums ’’she added

While staying with her aunt, the turnaround was very dramatic through the Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health HIV and AIDS Loyce represented Zimbabwe at the Social Media Training workshop which was held in South Africa with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), last year in December she attended the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) where she participated on the WEBNA platform for UNAIDS talking about her HIV status and challenges which are being faced by young people ,in May she attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva and gave a presentation on challenges which are being faced by Adolescents Living with HIV.

Recently, with support from Africaid Zvandiri Loyce was a panel speaker at the Global Fund Community Rights and Gender Youth Brown Bag session in Geneva, she was a participant in advocating for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in priority populations meeting which was jointly organised by World Health Organisation and UNAIDS with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she is also a member of the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria.

‘At the moment l m not facing any challenges because l am convinced that HIV is in the blood and not in the Brain’ said Loyce Maturu

She said being HIV positive does not mean the end of life but actually it is the beginning of a great life. Nothing cannot stop an HIV positive adolescent from achieving his or her goals.
Moving forward Loyce wants to be a professional counsellor and a TV presenter on Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health HIV and AIDS issues.

Africaid is a community organisation in Zimbabwe which, through its Zvandiri programme, integrates community prevention, treatment, care and support for children and adolescents living with HIV. The programme provides a combination of community based prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV positive children and adolescents. These services complement the care provided in clinics and promote a robust continuum of care for children and their families. The Zvandiri model is led by HIV positive adolescents at all levels, from planning through to service delivery as counsellors, trainers and advocates for their HIV positive peers.