2014
By

Dancing in a raging Storm!

Two of our peer counsellors were interviewed by a reporter from one of our local newspapers, here is one of the interviews

Part 1

Loyce Maturu

Loyce Maturu

Greetings to you all, my name is Loyce Maturu, a girl aged 22. I work with an organization which focuses on adolescents and youths called Africaid-Zvandiri as a peer counsellor. When I was growing up, being constantly moved from one relative to another became my second nature, not because I wanted that but wherever I went for holidays, as soon as I arrived at my destination I would be told I was going to start living there. I would cry myself to sleep but that did not change anything. The process of growing up and being moved from one relative to another was due to my parents passing away whilst I was young. In 2000, my mother succumbed to ill health leaving me and my younger sibling, who was also sick. Before the week was out, he passed away, leaving me heartbroken. My father had passed away ages ago, I do not even remember him since I at that time I was too young. The journey of soul searching for me to finally accept myself “as I am” took me 3 years. So I can understand it when someone is having difficulties accepting that they are living with HIV. I got to know my status in 2004; I was being treated at Newlands Clinic, where I got a cd4 count test with results showing I had 500 cd4 cells.

I was then initiated onto cotrimoxazole since these pills would help combat infections like TB, diarrhoea or shingles. I started taking ARVs in 2009 after having herpes on my stomach. In 2010 as Africaid-Zvandiri; we were awarded the Auxillia Chimusoro Award in recognition of Africaid’s perseverance through the “Zvandiri” program, by training HIV positive adolescents to encourage adherence to treatment and provide psychosocial support to their peers, we were extremely thrilled because the work we do was being acknowledged. The term “Zvandiri” was chosen by my peers, as we had seen that ‘this is what we are, we are living with HIV since the day we were born.’ From the grant that came with the above award, the Director of our organization, Mai Tadiwa, asked us what we wanted to do with it and we chose to produce a cd.

Since we are no strangers to singing and drama, we managed to produce a cd called ‘How to dance’ which made people ask who we were, what we do and why? We raised awareness about children born with HIV. Ba Shupi, a well-known Zimbabwean artist accepted to join hands with us in our work and was made Africaid’s brand Ambassador. Our cd has received airplay at international HIV/AIDS conferences, it was also used at ICASA and it is also available on YouTube under the same name ‘How to dance.’ In the midst of fighting stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV, we have learnt to sing and dance in the storm! We are looking forward to a country with zero HIV related deaths, with zero stigma and discrimination and also zero new HIV infections. On this note we are saying we do not want to see children being born with HIV, this was the case in our time, when there was no form of medication, today we no longer want to see this. I hope to get married just like anyone else, I want a huge family-5 kids but I do have a boyfriend at the moment. I do not hide what I am and I am vocal about it and in turn people deny the fact I am HIV positive, they think I am lying but thanks to ARVs I am healthy.

In conclusion, this writer wept tears mingled with both joy and sadness because Africaid-Zvandiri has groomed and raised conquerors.

2014
By

Progress in Kwekwe

 

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.

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.

 

2014
By

What a week!

 

Zvandiri crew on stage

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!

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.

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Ambassador Bruce Wharton (grey suit) accompanied by Mr Manuel Bagorro (blue blazer)

2014
By

SAfAIDS position on miracle remedies

“Miracle drugs” could put the lives of people on ARVs at risk. http://www.safaids.net/content/stay-alive-and-healthy-%E2%80%93-take-your-arvs-not-%E2%80%9Cmiracle-drugs%E2%80%9D

2014
By

A visit to Lesotho

Zvandiri facilitators, Loyce (left) and Auntie Eliza (third from left) in Lesotho with representatives from Baylor Clinic and members from the Teen Club.

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

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."

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.

2014
By

Workshop on eMTCT

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.