News / Africa

Zimbabwe AIDS Orphans Strive to Overcome Obstacles

Community adolescent treatment supporters at AFRICAID, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
Community adolescent treatment supporters at AFRICAID, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
HARARE — Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV rates in the world, despite years of effort to slow the spread of the virus.  The pandemic - and the government’s failure to rollout a life-prolonging anti-retroviral drug program - has left tens of thousands of AIDS orphans. Many of these young people are working to make a difference with their lives.

These are some of the many young people living with the HIV virus. Most of them are orphans - their parents having succumbed to HIV-related illnesses. They meet every Saturday afternoon in central Harare to share experiences.  Among them is a 19-year-old man we shall call Jacob.  He says he contracted HIV from his parents who have since died.  He says he has been fighting the stigma that comes with the virus since he got tested nine years ago.  

“Now stigma and discrimination I can count as nothing to me.  I first accepted my status.  It will never change.  Acceptance was the first medicine I took. I take medication as prescribed by doctors," stated Jacob. "Adherence is the most important thing for us people with HIV.”

He says he gets support from fellow youths that he meets each week at the offices of PSI - one of many global health organizations involved in assisting Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government help the 1.2 million people here living with HIV and AIDS.  

Jacob says being an HIV-positive orphan does not make him different from those who do not have the virus. “Right now a bit better than those who do not know their statuses.  If you know who you are and where you are coming from you will have a brighter future,” he said.

Across town from the PSI offices is “Zvandiri House“ - which houses AFRICAID, an organization that helps young people with HIV.  Zvandiri in the Shona language means “as I am.”  

Volunteer AIDS peer counselor Loyce Maturu, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)Volunteer AIDS peer counselor Loyce Maturu, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
x
Volunteer AIDS peer counselor Loyce Maturu, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
Volunteer AIDS peer counselor Loyce Maturu, Harare, Zimbabwe, June 2012. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
​Loyce Maturu is a 19-year-old who tested positive for the virus when her parents died of HIV-related illnesses about eight years ago.  She is now a volunteer peer counselor, believing she can share important lessons she learned from losing her parents at a young age.

She encourages all young Zimbabweans to get tested for HIV, saying that once you know your status, you can live well with or without the virus and have a future. “What I can say is that there is no difference - [It] is the blood with the virus, and not the brains,” explained Maturu.

Maturu says her goal is to work as a radio and TV presenter where she can talk about AIDS to help fight the stigma and inspire other orphans to follow their dreams.

Others here in Zimbabwe are already living their dreams.

This is music from singer Anderson Mamimine who calls himself a “humanitarian artist” and has named his backup vocalists “The Positive Life Choir” - formed by a group of HIV-positive orphans.

Mamimine says he’ll begin a European tour on July 22.  “The main purpose of the tour is to fundraise for other kids who still have no access to education,” he explained.

Primary education is difficult to access in Zimbabwe because of poverty - but it is that much more difficult for poor children with HIV.

Members of "The Positive Life Choir" hope their voices will literally help make Zimbabwe a better place for young people just like them.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid