A beacon of hope for HIV patients

Diagnosed HIV positive in 2003, Casper Paundi did not see it as a life sentence, but rather the beginning of a new chapter in his life.

FASO funds income-generating projects such as this sewing initiative.
FASO funds income-generating projects such as this sewing initiative.

The forty-one-year-old has become an inspiration for many HIV positive people in Manicaland through his work with the Family Aids Support Organisation.

The HIV advocate said sharing his experience had given hope to many people living with HIV.

“I always move around with my photo of when I weighed only 18 kg. I never thought I would see tomorrow. I could hardly walk and it took me hours to walk a short distance as I needed to rest so much. When people see this picture and hear my story, they realise that HIV is not the end of the world.”

Without professional education, Paundi transformed a support group into a proper non-governmental organisation. He joined FASO in 2003 after undergoing training in HIV-related issues. In 2008 he became the provincial programmes coordinator.


In just two years, Paundi, with the help of seven staff, transformed FASO, a support group under the Family Aids Caring Trust, into a successful NGO. FASO’s board, chaired by Daniel Phiri, Dr Rugare Kangwende of Africa University and Memory

Mandingwa of Legal Resources Centre has partnered with established NGOs such as the National Association of non-Governmental Organisations and Zimbabwe Aids Network. Its funding partners include Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief and Plan International Zimbabwe.

After realising the vulnerability of visually-impaired PLWH, in September last year, Paundi’s administration launched a braille book on HIV issues for 32 visually-impaired people in Hobhouse, Mutare. Four months later they produced a training manual called Memory Work in Braille.

“The book covers communication, involving children in planning, and disclosure and the documentation of life events. This concept is meant to keep a record of orphans. It makes it easier for them to get support.”

FASO is active in Mutasa Rural (6 Wards), Mutare (5) and all wards in Mutare Urban. It is the first organisation to make information about all aspects of HIV available to the visually impaired.

Victory is ours

They fund income-generating projects, such as sewing and the “Pass On” projects. FASO has donated hens and goats to some of the communities as a means of generating income. They have also built several fowl runs in various wards.

“We also have a clinic that focused on patients with opportunistic infections. We support them with medicines that they need,” said Paundi.

As the driving force behind FASO, Paundi is convinced that victory against HIV and stigmatisation is achievable.

“Disclosure of one’s status is the best way to fight stigma. Let’s come out into the open. As long as we try to be secretive, other people will continue to perceive HIV wrongly. To those given names by the community, I would say don’t fight it, embrace it,” he said.

Post published in: News

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