A total of 20 Kwekwe Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS) were recently engaged in a successful refresher course. The fruits of the refresher training are already being realized as evidenced by progress made so far by the CATS in reaching out to other children and adolescents living with HIV. Soon after the training the CATS organized an awareness campaign at Mbizo 11 clinic in Kwekwe where they sensitized about 104 caregivers and adolescents on the importance of support groups in providing psychosocial support to children and adolescents living with HIV. The campaign which was initially intended for one day ended up being two days due to high demand from the community members. What moved most caregivers and other adolescents was the fact that the CATS themselves are living with HIV.
Kwekwe CATS posing for a photo with the District Administrator for Kwekwe.
Some adolescents could not imagine that there are some young people who are living with HIV who are healthy and confident to the extent of providing support to children and other adolescents. Caregivers from Mbizo 11 catchment area with children on ART requested the clinic to provide space for support group meetings which was subsequently granted by the sister in charge. Another outreach is scheduled for Mbizo 1 clinic during the month of May.
During the training the CATS were linked with the District AIDS Coordinator for Kwekwe Urban Mr. Kombora who also attended the training. Two representatives were invited to attend the DAAC Stakeholders meeting on the 8th of May. Tafadzwa and Lissah attended the meeting and they were confident enough to present before the Kwekwe Stakeholders an update on what they are doing as CATS. All the stakeholders were amazed by the work being done by the CATS with support from Africaid. The CATS also presented the issue of user fees being charged by Kwekwe Council Clinics and the issue was taken up by the local authority for consideration.
Zvandiri crew on stage
As reported before, The Zvandiri Crew was to perform on stage exactly 2pm on the 30th of April and many were nervous as there was a huge turnout.
In the storm we’ve learnt How to Dance!
Their fears were put to rest as the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton, joined them backstage for their song and dance. During HIFA week, various non-profit organisations working towards the fight against HIV/AIDS showcased the different services they provide at the HIFA main venue, First Street, where they were sponsored by the U.S through The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR/Emergency Plan). PEPFAR has been in partnership with Zimbabwe for many years now.
Ambassador Bruce Wharton (grey suit) accompanied by Mr Manuel Bagorro (blue blazer)
Zvandiri facilitators, Loyce (left) and Auntie Eliza (third from left) in Lesotho with representatives from Baylor Clinic and members from the Teen Club.
Loyce Maturu a CATS member had a chance to share her story with her peers from another country in Southern Africa. This meeting was a share and learn platform for both Zimbabwe and Lesotho, during this meeting issues that came out mainly bordered around lack of adolescent activities, participation as well as stigma thus affecting their confidence.
Secure the Future, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is supporting Teen Clubs in Lesotho and Zvandiri in Zimbabwe and this was an opportunity to bring teens from both countries together. Africaid was asked to share its teen-led approaches with HIV positive teenagers attending the Teen Club in Lesotho so that they may also integrate similar approaches within their programmes.
Eliza(middle) with the adolescents enjoying their lunch
The three day learning and sharing workshop was held in Maseru and was developed through consultation between staff at Zvandiri in Zimbabwe and Baylor’s Centre of Excellence in Lesotho.
This brought together two facilitators from Zvandiri, Aunt Eliza and Loyce (counsellor and youth respectively) together with a team of 15 people from Baylor Clinic and the Teen Club. Loyce met with other HIV positive teens and young people in Lesotho and managed to share different approaches used in Zimbabwe.
Eliza with Sam “I have learnt from Loyce that I can fight stigma.”
The teens in Lesotho are so enthusiastic to take up the different approaches with much interest on the CATS model as they feel they have to help their peers in the community to cope well with their HIV status as well as other challenges associated with those living with HIV.
Feedback after the visit reported that the team in Maseru was so inspired by the way Loyce presented herself with so much confidence and how well informed she is about her HIV status.
Africaid managed to be in a team which was developing a 2014 Advocacy and Communication work plan as well as developing the framework for monitoring and evaluation for the 2014 communication work plan for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (eMTCT). Africaid through its representatives pointed across the issue to have teenagers as one of the groups to target in creating demand for the eMTCT program. This is due to the fact that young girls are engaging in sexual intercourse at a very young age. A representive from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare also shed light on the shift from option A to option B+. Thus in light of the meeting on eMTCT the program’s representative was encouraging the participants to sensitize their organisations on the new policy. This policy eliminates the need for HIV+ pregnant expectant mothers to be eligible for ART initiation based on CD4 of 350cells or to be in WHO Clinical Stage 3 & 4 but to be started due to pregnancy and HIV+ status.
In December, the teens from Zvandiri were so happy to be invited by WHO, Geneva to help them record this radio show. Listen here to find out more about the challenges young people face with adherence to ARVs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_YB6b6sGmA