Photo: Robert Fowler

Photo:Robert Fowler


AIDS in Zimbabwe Leaving Elderly and Orphaned to Cope

Mr. and Mrs. Govero live in Manicaland province, Zimbabwe. They are both HIV positive and have six children to support.

Despite their hardship and suffering, the Govero’s main concern is to be strong enough to work so they can care for their children’s health. They hope they can grow enough food to feed their family.

The Goveros are not alone.
As many as one third of all adults in Zimbabwe are HIV positive. Most of these women and men are in the most productive age group, responsible for supporting and caring for their family.

Many don’t survive.In Zimbabwe alone, there are now close to one million AIDS orphans.

However, AIDS-affected families begin to suffer even before a parent or caregiver has died. Along with the devastating psychological impact on the family, household income plummets as parents and caregivers become ill and weak. Survival strategies, such as eating less and selling assets, intensify the vulnerability of families.

After parents die, the responsibility for the vast majority of orphans falls on widows, grandparents or siblings — those with the most meagre resources.

CHF is doing something different.
Programs designed to address AIDS remain dominated by medical solutions, awareness education, counselling and prevention. These are essential, but do not adequately help rural families who need to cope with the loss of family breadwinners.

CHF is helping people in Zimbabwe improve food production and start small businesses so they can support their families — as complements to HIV/AIDS education, information and awareness programs.

We are focusing on three communities in Manicaland Province, where approximately 900 people die each week of AIDS.

Working in partnership with a local organization called Families AIDS Caring Trust (FACT), Mutare, CHF is:

  • Providing families with chickens and guinea fowl — a new source of food and income
  • Helping orphaned children learn new skills they’ll need to support themselves as adults
  • Supporting women farmers to set up and manage small livestock enterprises

The project will benefit more than 9,000 villagers, including orphans, grandmothers and widows looking after orphans, and childr-headed households.

In the future, the project will provide models that can be used by other southern African communities affected by AIDS, as they struggle to address long-term food and income security. Indeed, the work of CHF and its partner will bring hope for a brighter future for families and communities struggling to cope with the devastating effects of AIDS.