Women spearhead self-help groups

Some courageous women have defied enormous odds and spearheaded self-help organisations to emancipate vulnerable families affected by HIV and AIDS in remote areas.

Tariro Support Group showing some of their wears which they sell to support HIV patients and orphans
Tariro Support Group showing some of their wears which they sell to support HIV patients and orphans

The organisations, all headed by women, have become a pillar of strength for suffering families in remote areas that non-governmental organisations find hard to reach.

They offer social support, counselling, basic foodstuffs, school fees to clothing to families either directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic. They source the funds to support the beneficiaries from various income-generating projects such as chicken rearing, piggery, sewing and farming.

Debiyana Jana, who volunteers her services for ARISE in Honde Valley, said the support group had provided basic foodstuffs to families in several villages in the valley. But many more need help.

Elizabeth Jambaya of Gamuchirai Support Group in Chipinge said their organisation was designed to give guidance and counselling to households with members on anti-retroviral drugs. “We realised a number of villagers from our area were dying and they had no knowledge of prevention methods to HIV related illnesses. This is why we offer emotional and social support to other mothers suffering from the condition,” said Jambaya. They work closely with the Family Aids Caring Trust, and also help those with children born with the virus.

Chiedza Orphan Based Welfare, based in Mutasa, offers the same services. It was set up by a group of women after the realisation that most families were becoming child-headed after losing parents to HIV-related illnesses.

“We are into craft making. We sell our wares and use the money generated to support orphans. We also extend the little that we get to support our members to kickstart other income-generating projects,” said Margaret Nyakani, one of the founding members.

Tariro Support Group is into sewing. They make and sell school uniforms and pay fees from their income to HIV orphans. But most of these support groups lamented that they were struggling to register as NGOs, which is affecting their capabilities.

“We are a Community Based Organization. We are not registered as a Private Based Organization. Our challenge is you can only be funded when registered as one,” lamented Nyakani. “We appeal to the relevant authorities to assist us financially and technically in order for us to register as NGOs,” said Jana.

In Zimbabwe, NGOs are either registered under the Deeds Registry Act (Chapter 20:05) or the Private Voluntary Organisation Act (Chapter 17:05). PVOs require a private voluntary based organisation to register before it can “commence or continue to carry on its activities” or “seek financial assistance from any source.”

A PVO is, among other requirements, mandated to keep proper books of accounts which are subject to inspection

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