Below is a presentation by RMT Board Member, Mrs Hilda Chitsanzara, at the NGO Consultation Day during the 56th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She was one of the rural women leaders selected to address the gathering of over 1,000 people representing over 200 NGOs, globally, in New York, on 26th of February 2012.
HILDA CHITSANZARA, BOARD MEMBER; ROZARIA MEMORIAL TRUST
It’s a pleasure for Rozaria Memorial Trust to be present here at the 56th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, in New York. Its an honour to be one of the rural women to speak out during this NGO Consultation Day, which is attended by over a thousand people including Nobel Laureate Lemma Gbowee and UN Women Director, Michelle Bachelet.
My name is Hilda Chitsanzara. I am 46 years old, married with 3 children and 2 grand children. I am a business woman who is into crafts, cross-border trading and run a small gold mine. I have only primary education. I am a founder member of Rozaria Memorial Trust, a community organisation that support children living with HIV. Currently Rozaria Memorial Trust is reaching 5 000 people in Zimbabwe, with HIV programmes in Murewa district. The Trust was formed in 2006 in honour of our late mother and rural woman leader, Rozaria Marumisa Dizha.
Zimbabwe got its independence in 1980 and by then I was 16 years old. I experienced war related hardships, since the war was fought mostly in rural areas. War and poverty, affected my education. I was unable to go to secondary education, despite being an intelligent student in primary school. This forced me to get married at a very tender age. I was married at 15.
We faced many problems during the war as women. Many women and girls experienced sexual abuse. Some were treated as mistresses and others were tortured or arrested. We had poor access to reproductive health and education services. Life was hard and dangerous. With Zimbabwe’s independence, the situation improved, but still women and girls remain second-class citizens.
Despite the above problems, I managed to support my family and send my children to school with the money from cross border trade. One of my sons has a degree in law!
As rural women, we are the centre of our families and our communities. My fellow women, my friends, lets raise our voices for economic empowerment for rural women - young and old. To be empowered we demand education, both primary and secondary education. Vocational training is important. We need skills that can help us get jobs, and help us work with our own hands. Rural women need access to health services, especially for women and children living with HIV. Create laws that protect the rights of rural women. Give women right to land, access to land and control over that land. Increase funding support directly to grassroots organisations. Lastly, we are leaders, and demand to be in decision making in our own right.
Do you know the word WOMAN is an abbreviation?
W – women are Workers
O – women are Organisers
M – women are Managers
A – women are Accountants
N – women are Narrators
Now we must narrate to the world, so that our voices will be heard. Yes, I want to thank you for inviting us rural women to share our experiences. Listen to us, be with us and share with us. We are here and we are also leaders!
Rozaria Memorial Trust project “ Supporting Children Living with HIV in Murewa with Access to Education and Treatment” has made great impact for children living with HIV in Murewa Zimbabwe, a rural communities face extreme challenges to access treatment, education, and nutrition. Many such children live in extreme poverty, enduring social stigma and discrimination. The project directly supported almost 200 children living with HIV and AIDS, and over 2000 young people of school going age in 30 villages within the district.
HIV remains one of the most defining issues in Zimbabwe at the moment, with the country having an estimated HIV prevalence of 13, 3 % as of 2010 and the children have not been spared. It is estimated that 150 000 children aged between 0-14 years are living with HIV in Zimbabwe. Tremendous progress has been made over the past few years in diagnosing and treatment of children living with HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe; and such could be enhanced if the country has greater political and economic stability
Through the community outreach and awareness initiatives, RMT has come in contact with increasing number of positive children ranging from infants to 17 years. Currently, the organisation is now working with more almost 200 children living with or directly affected by HIV and their number continue to grow. Most of these children are in schools with the majority of them being taken care of by grandmothers who in most cases are old and live in extreme poverty
As a Trust, our targeted focus on CLHIV enables to support provision of adequate care and support both at household, school and community level. We are one of the very few organisations with integrated programmes for CLHIV in Murewa District. Murewa District Hospital is the nerve centre for medical oriented interventions, and the approach is more on treatment, yet these children do face many social barriers that include failure to adhere to medication, stigma and discrimination. Building capacity of Community Support Groups has been an essential intervention.
RMT also has been integrating good practise on Children Anti Retroviral Therapy Literacy into the care and support programme in schools and in the communities. To provide a comprehensive care and support for the HIV positive children, Rozaria Memorial Trust has been working closely with the schools where the children spend most of their time. The project is targeting eighty (8) primary schools and four (4) secondary schools that fall under the catchments area of Rozaria Memorial Trust operations.
Engagement of schools has been done to promote a supportive environment for Children Living with HIV. Poetry and quiz forums in schools have been used as strategies to advance positive living in schools. The educational awareness on HIV has been vital in reducing stigma and discrimination; and to facilitate for adherence to medication during school time.
To bring out the voices of the Children Living with HIV, a collaborative action was done with Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Services (SafAIDS) on Digital Story Telling of children infected and affected by HIV. The initiative is strengthening the organisational advocacy work on issues of paediatric care in the context of HIV in the rural communities. As a result of the alliance, 20 children from the Support Groups participated in Digital Story Telling project. Their stories are being developed into booklets and a DVDs for sharing with other key stakeholders that include schools, Health Institutions, and other No-Governmental Organisations that work with children.
RMT in continued view of the marginalisation and vulnerability of Children Living with HIV has been deepening its already existing activities recognising that sustainable change can not be made within short period of time. Rights based approaches have been adopted to ensure that interdependence of right to education, health; nutrition and prevention are integrated in the initiatives that target CLHIV in the rural communities.
Stella story below is just one example of our many success stories:
Stella (not her real name) is a seven year old cheerful girl; her father is late and lives with her aunt. Her mother works in Botswana and occasionally comes home. One Monday morning she comes to our office with her mother and the mother narrates her story. Stella’s mother has of late been trying to make ends meet by working as a maid in Gaborone.
She leaves her daughter with her elder sister who takes care of her during her absence. This time when she comes back home for Christmas holiday, all is not well at all. Stella has a rush all over her body which resembles Chicken Pox.
Her aunt has heard about how RMT works with Children Living with HIV. The mother is just too worried and asks how we can assist and we explained to her the services that are offered and the target groups.
One of the officers accompanies Stella and her mother to the local hospital for HIV testing. Both mother and daughter tested positive and the organization is now supporting the young girl with school fees.
Stella tested HIV positive with a CD 4 count of 90 which indicated that the child has suffered a severe Immuno-suppression as result of HIV. RMT catered for the medical fees for the child and continued providing psycho-social support for the mother to enable her to fully comprehend issues of paedriatic care and treatment before the child was administered on Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Through RMT school fees support system, Stella has been enrolled for grade zero (pre-school) at Hurungwe Early Childhood Development Centre
Although there is a growing recognition that stepping up efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission would decrease the need for paedriatic treatment, it is likely that HIV will continue to infect many thousand of children in Zimbabwe for years to come. During the operational period, experience has afforded many lessons to be learnt regarding the lives and interventions for Children Living with HIV. The project has identified a number of key issues and calls for the following
In 2012, Rozaria Memorial Trust will work towards meeting its goal of reaching out to at least 200 CLHIV in the rural communities of Murewa District. Close working collaboration is going to be done with the local health institutions, educational institutions, guardians of Children Living with HIV and other community members whom are essentially important in providing a complete circle of care for positive children.
The project will focus on some of the following aspects:
We are grateful to all individuals and friends who continue to support us such as AJW and SAFAID, and those sending us gifts through Global Giving. We have over 2500 friends on facebook and many followers on twitter who also continue to volunteers advice and services. We always remain grateful to the many volunteers and community leaders and members and partner organisations who support the work of the Trust through out the year.
RMT was founded in 2007 in memory of the late Mbuya Rozaria Marumisa Dizha (1923 – 2006). She lived 27 years as a widow and her life was an embodiment of hard work, caring, sharing, innovation, self-reliance and creativity. RMT advocates for the empowerment and rights of women, children and young people. It supports innovative actions in health, education and entrepreneurship for women and young people in rural communities.
Chigumadze Complex, Murewa Centre, Zimbabwe
Rozaria Memorial Trust, PO Box 114, Murewa
Email: email@example.com or
Murewa: September 2011: On the 3rd of September, Rozaria Memorial Trust Board Members converged for a quarterly board meeting. The board meeting marked the fourth year Anniversary of the existence of RMT; it all started with consultative meeting at Magaya Primary School in Murewa in August 2007 to set forth on how to thrust Mbuya Rozaria Dizha legacy beyond her life.
The Board of Trustees expressed the need to urgently engage in initiatives that strengthens the organisation’s vision with operational sustainability. They agreed upon a number of initiatives which should be pursued in the coming years in order to make this a reality. The following recommendations were unanimously agreed on:
“The organisation has become an integral part in Murewa District”, emphasised Mr Kudakwashe Dizha, RMT Coordinator in his briefing to the Board. The organisation is sustaining its support to families affected by HIV with main attention to children living with HIV. With programmes reaching 30 villages and 5,000 people in Ward 5 and 17, the organisation is now deepening its services into ward 17. The organisation is raising the number of established support groups for People Living with HIV from 16 to 24. The organisation is reaching out with psycho-social services for both the infected and affected community members. The work of the organisation is deepening towards the needs of children especially those living with HIV; with almost 100 children supported with access to education and treatment. Addressing family violence issues and improving the status of women and girls remains critical to the work of the Trust.
The Treasurer, Mrs Tawonezvi shared the Audited Annual Report for 2010. RMT has been able to provide audited financial accounts since the year 2009. She highlighted that although the organisation has realised a steady increase in income, financial resources still fall short of the organisations operation’s needs. This is inhibiting the scaling up of RMT activities in the targeted communities. With the organisation’s operations now stabilised, she highlighted RMT must continue to meet the regulatory requirements for non-profit organisations, and remain an organisation with integrity.
The board expressed its welcome Mr Pascar Dheka, as a new Board member. With his background in safety, security and social protection, he will bring the much needed skills to the organisation especially on its work related to domestic violence and access to justice. The Board also sent its condolences and befitting farewell to Mai Dune a dedicated board member who passed on in March 201. The Trust will continue to advocate for her aspirations which were hinged on the need for a community in which women and children especially those living with HIV, enjoy their rights.
“Board of Trustees of Rozaria Memorial Trust remain awake that the practical services in the communities are not sustainable by themselves unless there is a strong policies that are implemented at district, national and global levels; the organisation is open to all those organisations and individuals that are ready to embrace mutual partnership to advance the lives of the marginalised people especially women and children”, stressed Mr Patrick Mugaragumbo, the Vice-Chairperson of the Trust who led the proceedings.
The Board expressed its appreciation to the many partners who support its work across including the community volunteers, the community leadership, and district officials, other NGOs such as SAFAIDS and donors partners including AJWS, AVERT, Global Fund for Women and many individuals who contribute directly or through Global Giving Foundation. The Board also expressed its appreciation to the founder and chair Mrs Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda and it’s Patron Mr Emmanuel Dizha who continues to give guidance and direction to the organisation.
Further information available on: http://rozariatrust.net.
Rozaria Memorial Trust
28 July 2011
When we started on HIV prevention and care programmes in 2007, we had a more general outreach to families affected by HIV. We reached out to everyone and established a strong presence in ward 8 and 17 in Murewa District in Zimbabwe. This is a district with a population of 23,000 and a 23% HIV prevalence rate, against a national average of 13%.
The more we engaged with families, the more it became clear that we needed to have a special and deeper focus on children living with HIV. In every family where a parent of reproductive age group was HIV positive, we likely had a child living with HIV. Most of the children had single parents, living with foster care-givers and some simply in desperate situations. Access to treatment became an immediate call for us, and associated with importance of investing in education for these children, in a supportive and enabling learning environment. This was to compliment on-going prevention programmes.
We secured a permanent spot on the Global Giving online fundraising platform, thus enabling us to raise almost $10K from over 155 individuals within a period of 8 months. This short narrative gives the stories of some of the children who have been and are part of the programme. We value the partnership with AJWS, SAFAIDS, and AVERT who have enabled us to build skills for supporting and working with children living with HIV. The real life stories below give a glimpse of our work, its complexities and yet remains a narrative of hope.
She is a 6 year old girl, who lives in Masango village, with her mother, Rosemary Mudarikwa. Rosemary is a single mother, living with HIV herself and survives through cross-border trade. When travelled to Mozambique or South Africa for weeks, Rosemary left her young daughter with neighbours. The little girl S, did not seem to grow for her age and was frail. Rosemary was afraid and could not bring her child for testing. The Community Support Group discussed the issue with her, and informed her that if the child is not tested, some of the neighbours may no longer be comfortable remaining with the child when she is away.
With the community support, Rosemary, in her mid thirties, walked the 7 kilometers to Murewa Centre to meet with Rozaria Memorial Trust for advice and support. Colleta Zinyama, RMT Programme Officer accompanied S. and her mother to Murewa Hospital, where the little girl was tested. She tested positive to HIV. It was hard for Rosemary. Colleta and the health workers had to spend some time with Rosemary, counseling her; while little S. was simply not fully understanding what all the fuss was about. S. was placed on medicine, and the hospital did further tests for her CD4 Count.
S. will now be enrolled for grade 0, pre-school at Mazeyanike school, with support from RMT. This is one of the schools which RMT had been going through sensitization programmes with teachers, administration and community. Both S and her mother will continue to receive counseling, moral and psycho-social support from the Masango support group.
What is clear is that the Ministry of Health must have the necessary medicines for HIV; skilled and committed health workers if both S and her mother are to live positively and with hope. The Ministry of Education must step up its support to children and teachers as we continue to enroll children of S’s age group, therefore this is long term capacity that should exists. Ultimately issues of poverty and its impact of women and especially single mothers like Rosemary, must be addressed as such mothers all desire to directly provide for their families and for themselves.
About four (4) months ago we shared about Nyasha Matogo, a mother of 2 children whose children had to rotate begging in order to support their mother, from Jakopo Village in Ward 8 Murewa. RMT did its best to provide an emergency response with food, and immediate access to treatment as well as enrolling the children in school. Nyasha’s family was finally came for her, and she was taken to Uzumba, an adjacent district to Murewa. We held hope for Nysha and her two children
Pedzisayi Fero, a Community Mobiliser with RMT for Jakopo village called with sad news. "A message came from Uzumba, that Nyasha Matogo died a month ago", was a simple message. There was no news about the children. RMT is trying to trek down the children and do a referral to Uzumba Orphan Care Trust, since RMT programmes are only in Murewa. We do not know what the situation of the children.
Again, Nyasha’s story reminds us of the deep vulnerabilities of women who are married, widowed, abandoned and live on the margins of society. The death of a mother has such huge impact on children. The community and social protection mechanisms must be strengthened to ensure that Nyasha’s children are able to go to school, and to access treatment and other medical services. They need love and a supporting environment.
Mbuya (Grandmother) Chitate
Well, we still have the many sheroes/heroines in our communities like Mbuya Chitate. Her stepdaughter died 3 weeks after giving birth to little Tatenda. Tatenda was born with HIV and when her mother died, Mbuya Chitate just took her in. She approached RMT for support, “if nothing else but food for this rusvava/infant; and a visit to the clinic”. That was over a year ago. RMT has been providing food supplements to Tatenda since, and she has grown to be a health baby, complying to treatment and healthy as any other baby. Mbuya Chitate is now working with RMT and the health workers in preparing Tatenda for migration to a new diet.
However, Mbuya Chitate wants her little baby to get a birth-certificate, and its complicated. She has to first get the death certificate for the mother, and she is not sure whether she is allowed to register this child, since she is a step-grandmother. RMT has advised her to take it one step at a time, and seek advise. It should be possible for Tatenda to get birth certificate, though it may be complicated.
Rozaria Memorial Trust believes that it’s important to have direct impact in lives of the individuals, the lives of children, care-givers, parents and communities. In an integrated community approach, affirmation of the rights and dignity for all is crucial. In partnerships we can have great impact, cross-referrals and a strong social protection network. Ultimately government has to play its policy role and in delivering quality education, health, livelihoods and food security programmes in communities. Present in 32 villages, RMT reaches over 5,000 people in Murewa, in Zimbabwe.
 Founder and Chairperson, Rozaria Memorial Trust.
The Community Dialogue that Rozaria Memorial Trust held at Mazeyanike School, in Murewa, Zimbabwe, last week stressed the importance of addressing stigma and discrimination to support positive living in communities. The meeting attended by 56 people comprising of 7 village heads, representatives of churches (Methodist, Family of God, ZAOGA), Caregivers (trained by RMT & ZWAAPV), parents and guardians of Children Living with HIV (CLHIV), School heads and secretariat of support groups.
The Dialogue mainly centered on role played by community as a support system to People Living with HIV (PLHIV). Each and everyone in the circle of care gave ideas of how they could contribute towards care to the infected. The main issues faced by PLHIV in communities were:
Schools committed themselves to referring children they find having health relate problems to nearest hospitals and clinics. Churches also said that they will work hand in hand with other partners to improve the lives of PLHIV. The village heads stressed the importance of household food security indicating that they will support the RMT in expanding its maize production project which targets families affected by HIV.
Rozaria Memorial Trust runs HIV prevention, care and support programmes in 31 villages in Murewa, Zimbabwe reaching to more than 300 people living with HIV of whom 1/3 are children. RMT is working in partnership with the District AIDS Coordinating Committee (DACC), SAFAIDS, and AJWS.
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