Aids Council spearheads Binga gardens for life

Matabeleland AIDS Council Director, Viola George Mupezani belongs to the new generation of women leaders who have firmly taken charge of organizations and institutions that used to be dominated by men.

Viola George Mupezeni, Director of the Matabeleland AIDS Council.
Viola George Mupezeni, Director of the Matabeleland AIDS Council.

Since assuming leadership of the organisation in 2009, Mupwzani has spearheaded various life-changing and life-enhancing programmes in Matabeleland province, which resulted in her being nominated the Zimbabwe Institute of Management’s National Contribution Manager of the Year in 2011.

Under her leadership, MAC, a service organization established in 1988 to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic has implemented various HIV/AIDS programmes which have steered the direction of many communities to positive directions.

“Our programmes are targeted at the marginalised and special interest people groups such as the girl child, orphans, vulnerable children, people living with disabilities and women. The organisation currently provides HIV and AIDS services in the thematic areas of Prevention, Care and Support and Mitigation,” said Mupezeni in an interview with The Zimbabwean.

A qualified nurse by profession, Mupezeni joined MAC in 1999 as a Counselling and Testing officer before she was promoted to the position of support programme officer responsible for training and counselling in 2001. She briefly left the organisation to join the Christian AIDS Taskforce as field officer in 2006.

“My role involved the design and implementation of the project as well as the monitoring and evaluation of the project. It also involved the production of a training manual on HIV/AIDS, gender and the church for the two selected churches I worked with,” she said. In 2007 she re-joined MAC as a programmes manager and was promoted as the Director in 2009 following the resignation of former director Boniface Hlabano.

“The Gender, HIV and Livelihoods Programme which we run in Binga has resulted in the establishment of over 30 community based income generating gardens in the area. Each garden supports at least 10 families and thus over 300 families in the rural environs of Binga have been economically empowered.” she said. The programme also focuses on establishing market linkages for the produce outside Binga.

MAC also runs the Girl Child education programme which has resulted in the construction of a secondary school in Chief Sinansengwe’s area. A number of young girls have found their way back to school as a result.

The organisation has also introduced an Income, Savings and Lending training scheme for community based volunteers as well as a revolving fund that assists community based volunteers.

They operate in 10 districts in Matabeleland North, South and Bulawayo. Mupezani said she has managed the vicissitudes of the macro-environment by going into strategic partnerships and alliances with like-minded institutions.

“It is more effective to lobby for resources as a consortium. The launching of the MAC 2010 – 2012 strategic plan in Harare resulted in significant donor support coming through to the organisation. New partnerships with Oxfam Australia and VSO were forged whilst existing partnerships with organizations such as UNICEF saw significant increases in the support provided by these organizations,” she said.

Mupezani is disappointed that the local corporate world was unwilling to support organisations such as MAC. “We need the support of our own local companies. External donor funding is slowly dwindling and it is high time that our own companies should chip in with assistance,” she added.

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