“We are strong, determined, and will overcome the challenges we face.” Simbi, aged 16
“Most people say when times are hard, wait for the storm to pass. Well, Zvandiri has taught me to dance in the storm.” Alice, aged 17.
Zvandiri Community Support Groups have been operating in 17 communities across Harare and Chitungwiza every month since 2005. They were established with the children, their families, clinics and communities and in particular, the support of the National AIDS Council in Harare Province. On average, 500 children, adolescents and young people attend the groups each month. The children and young adolescents who founded the groups back in 2004 are now leading the groups with support from an adult mentor, or have grown up and ‘graduated out’ of the programme as they head off to employment, university and families of their own.
The Zvandiri support groups provide a constant forum in the lives of the children where they can share, learn, feel loved and supported and have fun each month. Children are referred by clinics, hospitals, schools, churches, families and communities, once they have been told they are living with HIV:
These groups are the ‘core’ of the programme and through skilled, structured training, counselling and a lot of fun, children learn how to cope with the impact of their HIV status.
Zvandiri community support groups are now being scaled up across the country through the Child Protection Fund which is enabling us to train provincial partners in establishing similar groups. Examples include Gweru City Health Department who are rolling out the approach in all their clinics and Hope For Life in Mutare who have been assisted to decentralise their support group in to surrounding communities.