‘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.
“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.


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.


Child Sensitive Social Policies International Conference 2014

With support from UNICEF Zimbabwe, the Women’s University in Africa hosted the first International Child Sensitive Social Policies conference recently at the Meikles hotel in Harare. The theme for this conference was “Towards a Child Sensitive Society in Zimbabwe”

Professor Hope Sadza (Vice Chancellor of Women’s University in Africa) in her speech mentioned that many countries have struggled with increasing incidences of violence and exploitation of children, neglect and social exclusion of vulnerable children especially girls and children with disabilities. When matters stand like this then there is no other way than to call for in depth investigations about how child protection and social protection systems operate, their shortcomings; their success and if they can be improved. Through the partnership between the Women’s University in Africa and UNICEF, the former is offering a Post-Graduate Diploma in Child Sensitive Social Policies (CSSP), meant to promote the rights and wellbeing of children and women.

Someone once said that “anything for us, without us is against us!” and true to the saying, the conference engaged children and gave them an opportunity to participate in discussions on matters that affect them. Delegates at the conference included Mr Reza Hossaini, the UNICEF country representative in Zimbabwe, Dr David Parirenyatwa, The Minister of Health and Child Welfare including students, academics, non-governmental organizations, research networks, international agencies and donors from various African countries.


Children’s voices in the media

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and UNICEF held a 2 day workshop with children from different organizations in attendance over the weekend at Mukuvisi Woodland in order to make children’s voices and choices heard in every form of media.

Children’s views and opinions are not being voiced neither is their participation notable in the media. Is it due to lack of child friendly media platforms or it is because they genuinely do not know the said platforms where they can be part and parcel of decision making process in terms of what they want to hear on the radio, TV and what they read in the newspaper? The main agenda of the workshop was that of getting them involved in the media and other current platforms like on Television-the Young, Gifted & Talented (YGT) show, Cool Lifestyle (Newspaper), Sunday Mail Bridge section (Newspaper) and radio programs on special events like the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. The workshop also was about learning how to be a journalist, how to write different types of articles life a feature and hard news story. We learnt of writing for those who are behind time simply by stating Who, what, where, when,why and how- the 5Ws and an H. Leading the workshop was Charles Mushinga- Deputy Editor of H-Metro and Editor of the Sunday Mail Bridge section, Nigel Nyamutumbu (Programs Officer for ZUJ).

Invited guest speakers included Samantha Sanangurai (Care At The Core of Humanity-CACH Zimbabwe) – an organization which helps children in contact with the law/caught on the wrong side of the law, their families and their communities, Foster Dongozi (ZUJ Secretary General).

with Sanni Makhalima at the Zi FM studios

with Sanni Makhalima at the Zi FM studios

Day 1- We started the day by having a media tour of the following studios- ZBC Pockets Hill Studios in Highlands Harare which included, National FM, Power FM and how they connect with their other studios like Radio Zimbabwe in Mbare and Sport FM situated in Bulawayo. We also toured Zi FM studios and got amazing photos with Sanni and Delani Makhalima, also Tinopona Katsande, Tintin for short. At the Zi FM studios since it is digital, we got to see just how it all works.

From the left: Sungano, Tintin and Loyce

From left: Sungano, Tintin and Loyce

After the tour we got back to the Mukuvisi Woodland where Samantha showed us just how much people and we children are ignorant when it comes to human and children’s rights. She also said something that was very interesting- we might have rights but when you abuse them, the law can take away those rights!

Day 2- We had a discussion session with Mr Dongozi. We discussed about what we would want in order for us to be part of the media, what can be done to increase media consumption by children. We came up with the following ideas:

  • There should be listening clubs and in such clubs radio sets should be handed out
  • Media products should be able to cater for every child
  • Children with impairments should partner and produce media for their peers

He then told us of a soon to be available platform by UNICEF called Your call/Your Phone whereby UNICEF will advertise their toll free number and any young person can call and text about anything you want. We ended day 2 by touring the Zimpapers Offices and getting information on how they work and print their newspapers.

Plus I learnt for the first time what a voice bank is. Whereby if you think you have a great voice you go to Zi FM studios, record a demo for free and when they get clients who want a voice over advert and they play their voice bank which would probably have many voices stored and your voices the one the client chooses well serious cash. You get called in again and you do the advert. Easy money.

What a more better way to end the workshop than enjoying nature and wildlife2013-04-27 16.24.14

Got to meet my totem up close- the Eland-Mhofu Oh is that a Zebra

Got to meet my totem up close- the Eland-Mhofu
Oh is that a Zebra


Professor Lake comes to Zvandiri House

Dr Gianni Murzi and Prof Anthony Lake

Dr Gianni Murzi and Prof Anthony Lake

Zvandiri house on the 9th of March 2013 was home to the Executive Director of United Nations Children’s Fund i.e. UNICEF. Professor Anthony Lake was accompanied by Dr Gianni Murzi (Country Representative for UNICEF Zimbabwe), Judith Sherman, Lauren Rumble, Elayn Sammon, Beula Senzanje- all from UNICEF Zimbabwe. They were joined by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Mr Oliver Mtukudzi and the Africaid team Martha Mawodzeke, Eliza Gwenzi, Chengetai Dziwa, Nigel Gaza, Modester Muziringa, Samantha C Chimwariro, Alex Muchero, Tanaka and myself.

Group photo with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Mr Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi

Group photo with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa Mr Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi


Mr Lake had an informal discussion with children from different organizations about the kind of world they would want to live and grow up in, the help they need to realize their vision and their role as children in their different organizations given their position in their respective organizations. Given these questions my answer would have been;

A child's view

A child’s view

“A world free from judgement and discrimination, a world where my views and opinions are heard regardless of my age. Strife, hate, anger, degradation put together form PATHETIC. That is what I live in now but not all things and everyone are pathetic. Some are kind, helpful, inspirational and true role models. Love, more love. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. Do you honestly want people to hate and discriminate you just because your being different is deemed as uncool by the world? Why do we have to classify a certain look as beautiful? With what rules are we saying if you do this and if you look like this then you are beautiful? It’s time we changed the way we as people think. Someone once said if you are going to make a change; start with the man in the mirror then the world will change.

Prof Anthony Lake with Martha Mawodzeke, viewing the accolades awarded to Africaid

Prof Anthony Lake with Martha Mawodzeke, viewing the accolades awarded to Africaid

I can be someone that my fellow peers admire and want to emulate, be an inspiring young adult by taking the time to listen to others and being kind and humble.

If we are together that vision can be realized, give me patience and guidance and I will be someone with bigger visions.

I have love, care, advice, support and I am confident because I have Africaid. What about other children being ravaged by famine, war, uncaring guardians; orphans- who and what do they have?

Prof Anthony Lake, Sungano Bondayi and Dr Gianni Murzi

Prof Anthony Lake, Sungano Bondayi and Dr Gianni Murzi

When you pass a child in the street do you smile at all or do you see them as a nuisance? Your smile goes a long way in making the world a better place.” Think about it.