our first visit with Kathy C, a teacher at Harare International
School (HIS), Diana and Kim had the pleasure of meeting Simba, an HIV
positive man who at the time was doing fairly well thanks to a government drug
program that allowed him to get ARVs (Anti-retroviral drugs). He
spoke a bit about the drug program and about how difficult it was
to get in, but how once you were added to the program, it was usually
fairly easy to get the drugs. However, he added, he might get one
particular prescription, and then the next visit, if that wasn't
available, he'd be given something else in its place.
had first visited HIS to deliver a talk to the students about living with AIDS. He
told how after being diagnosed as HIV+ he joined a support group
for HIV+ survivors. Most of the members had children and they came
to realize that the children of the dying parents were the ones
really in need. Simba's "organization" evolved for which Kathy had
raised some funds for food and supplies. The day we met Simba, he
had meticulously written out the names, addresses, and other vital
information for 30+ orphaned children in his neighborhood of Mt.
Pleasant, a neighborhood of Harare. These children were the ones
Simba was particularly concerned about. Five of the children were
HIV+. Many of the children were not able to go to school because
they were not able to pay the required school fees. Some lived with
relatives, some lived in child-headed households.
this particular day, he was in the process of organizing a food
distribution event for the orphans that would happen the following
week. He had received what was to him a sizable donation of about
$60 U.S. which enabled him to purchase a significant amount of mealie
meal (cornmeal - staple of the Zimbabwean diet), and assorted other
food items, including a nutritional supplement.
the support of HopeFirst Foundation, Kathy and Simba have spent
many hours going to the schools of these children, begging the headmasters
to readmit students and to reduce fees, and paying what
is settled upon. On the books, there is governmental support for
school fees for the orphaned children, but that is often not provided
outright. In paying for the school fees for these children, HopeFirst
assumes some obligation to continue support when possible.
Schooling provides so much for a
child, especially the orphaned child. The school day does not just
include academics, but a place to socialize with other children,
to learn cultural values, to learn life skills like how to keep
water and food safe, to learn health skills like how AIDS is contracted,
to have exposure to nurturing adults, to maybe get some food or
medicine, to play.
involvement with the Mt Pleasant orphans is to continue providing
school fees for the orphans, particularly those that are child-headed-households.