AIDS activist Chimusoro dies

BY MANDISA MUNDAWARARA LONDON - Well-known AIDS activist and committee member of the Zimbabwe Network of People Living with AIDS (ZNNP+) Tendayi Bernadette Chimusoro has died at the age of 48. She died on Wednesday morning at Parirenyatwa Hospital, where she was admitted after experiencing breathing

problems. Bernadette Chimusoro, who was living openly with HIV, was the younger sister of Auxillia Chimusoro, the first person to publicly declare her HIV positive status in 1989. Bernadette also became an AIDS activist and followed in the footsteps of her well-known sister. Auxillia Chimusoro worked to demystify HIV/AIDS through public talks and care and support initiatives, and established more than 50 support groups nationwide before she died in 1998. USAID has since 2000 funded the prestigious Auxillia Chimusoro Award, which is given in her honour to recognise the hard work, dedication and commitment demonstrated by Zimbabwean individuals and groups as they fight the epidemic in positive and creative ways. Past winners include Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), popular musician Oliver Mutukudzi, and the New Start Centre initiative. Bernadette Chimusoro was a single parent, who despite being sickly and battling to get medication for herself and those in the clinic where she worked, adopted 16 AIDS orphans who lived with her in her small 3 bedroom Masvingo home. She worked with other AIDS orphans, finding school fees and clothes, support groups and food, and also ran a number of skills and job creation projects ranging from sewing to the cultivation of small-scale crops.

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