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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid