Over the last several weeks, we have taken a great leap forward through our development in Zimbabwe.
The project has adopted an official role to direct and sustain the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center in Old Mutare. This gives us an enhanced ability to provide resources and positively influence the entire public health structure of the area.
We have partnered with the UMC Zimbabwe so that we will be able to continue operating in the country - a feat that is becoming harder and harder for many humanitarian organizations due to the political situation in Zimbabwe. This gives us solid status in a nation where many foreign-funded NGOs have had to pull out. Thanks to our contacts and friends in the community, we are still making efforts to provide opportunities for the multitude of people who remain in need of help and support.
Through partnership, we continue the necessary work of maintaining clinics and empowering patients. To ensure that our projects are truly helpful to the region, we have structured our efforts so that they are locally run. A community monitoring board is now in place, and we are currently expanding the health-care staff.
Through working within the local hospital and HIV clinic, we work to enhance the public health infrastructure. Instead of privatizing our services through a separate operation, we push resources into the public structure. By strengthening the local system, we can be more confident of sustainability and long-term effects of our work.
Through this structure, we work with the hospital/VCT and our community health workers to perform outreach and push our services into the rural areas, where people have very little access to healthcare.
Every day, our staff is bringing new opportunities to vulnerable men, women, and children. We are continuously developing possibilities of free hospital care and medicine, enhanced nutrition, income generation projects, HIV and TB testing and education, and emotional encouragement to those who need it most.
As testament to our continued success, the HIV support group has reached record numbers and is still growing! It is thriving is in a community that was once overcome by stigma, which continues to be a problem for many people.
There is still much work to do. No easy solution exists around such an overwhelming problem. But, the enthusiasm of our workers and clients, along with the continued hope for a better future, will keep us fighting to improve all that we can - public health, education, HIV care, and other needs that are so important to the survival of the community.