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Zimbabwe’s Youth Help HIV Families

Zimbabwe’s Youth Help HIV Families

Impoverished African children whose family members are HIV-positive often find themselves needed at home to do chores and caregiving. Boys and girls looking after parents can end up neglecting their schoolwork or leaving school.

Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Matambanadzo of Nyanga, in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province, decided to do something about it. Although she is HIV-positive herself, she joined Family Caring Trust, a youth group that eases the burdens of home-based caregivers by helping them with daily tasks like cooking, laundry and gathering firewood.

As Elizabeth told IRIN’s PlusNews, she didn’t originally think she could do this work.

“My mother passed away when I was five and my father when I was 10,” she said. “I have been staying with my grandmother since then. I tested HIV positive in 2008 when I was 16 after being sick for a long time. I developed sores all over my body that wouldn’t heal even after taking medicine. My grandmother and I were always in and out of hospital. I missed a lot of school.”

Elizabeth had never had sex; the doctor told her she may have been born HIV-positive. At first she was angry and blamed her parents for getting her sick. After taking antiretroviral drugs, her sores healed. Now strong, she wants to continue helping other people affected by HIV/AIDS—and that includes making it easier for children to go to school.

AIDS Orphans Put Heavy Stress on Grandparents

Through her work, Elizabeth has seen firsthand the enormous toll that taking care of AIDS orphans takes on grandparents.

“[The grandparents] know their children died of HIV and are very open about it,” she said. “The orphan problem here in Nyanga is huge. There are some grandmothers taking care of more than eight orphans and in their old age, this can be strenuous, so we help out as much as we can. The grandparents appreciate a simple action like helping their grandchildren get ready for school in the morning.”

Like Elizabeth, SOS Children’s Villages works to provide relief to HIV-affected families. The main mission of SOS is to protect children. Poor households with an ill family member are at risk of being unable to care for their offspring. 

To help keep families intact, SOS runs family strengthening programs that offer food and financial subsidies and teach small business skills. These programs are often attached to SOS Children’s Villages, where orphaned and abandoned children find loving homes, education, and a supportive community that prepares them for a productive adulthood.

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Photo Credit: SOS Children's Villages
By Kyna Rubin, SOS Children’s Villages

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11:37AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

What wonderful children. Elizabeth shows what giving means. Hearing of the grandparent problem before, I have marveled that old people have to care for small energetic children. It is why people have children when they're in their 20s and 30s, because that's when we have energy also. Grandparents don't, yet they do what they must. So this program is very good thinking by Elizabeth. Nice girl.

2:20PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

thanks for thr info

5:14PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

interesing thanx

5:39AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

I have seen some statements by researchers that AIDS was made in America as well and not at all the human monkey sex orgy the deniers suggested..another slight on blacks by "a segment" of the good ol US of Aids.:) corporate globalist plutocracy now governing behind corporate doors and using American tax payer finances to fund their illegal wars for resources..interfere in foreign politics, annexing Canada,for ours, behind the scenes and generally enslave the world through their front groups..IMF, World Bank, Carlyle Group etc..WHO of course has it's ghoulish hands in the pot too..globalist media propaganda war..economic intrigues to destabilize global economics, and set the stage for their all conspiracy though..ask any zombie they'll back that nation after nation falls to ruin at their hands..becomes enslaved to interest payments and armed military interventions..impoverished then own government as guilty as any other of globalist mob affiliations..
but what do I :0) Our debt is over a trillion under Karper.:) Now we are sure to fall soon..NAU..another worst kept secret of the globalists..EU TA..another gut the country give away..corruption rules in hell on earth with a fist full of worthless green longer the darling of the currency speculators and soon to crash too..America the beautiful has a bad case of political acne, complicated by voter Alzheimer's disease..inability think critically. Box headed and deluded..patriots al

8:12PM PST on Feb 6, 2011


7:10AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

What an inspirational woman.

1:13AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

So sad the situation of people in Africa and so brave stories come from these tragedies.

8:16PM PST on Feb 1, 2011

good story.

2:39PM PST on Feb 1, 2011

Thanks for the article.

2:34PM PST on Feb 1, 2011

This woman is my hero!!

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