The last one month has been momentous. We dared to participate in the Global Open Challenge at Global Giving for us to secure a permanent spot for friend, fun and fundraising in support of the rights and well-being of children living with HIV in Murewa, Zimbabwe. Many people people rose up to the challenge, and walked this journey with us, cheering, encouraging and facilitating along the way. It was all for a cause.
Its about the children. Their quality of life and their future. It was about our collective and total refusal that the HIV virus should deny our children especially in poor communities, the opportunity to led fulfilling lives. CONGRATULATIONS to all who made this possible for us. Now as Rozaria Memorial Trust we have a permanent means of accessing the public, friends and others to support our vision, programmes and initiatives for women and children in communities.
Securing the rights and well-being of any child, and more so for children living with HIV and AIDS is also about their families, their immediate care-givers, and friends. Among the children that we have reached in the 30 villages of Ward 8 and 17 of Murewa district in Zimbabwe, most of the children are either orphans, being taken care of by grand-parents or a member of the extended family. In other instances the children are from an HIV affected household where one or both of the parents are living with HIV themselves. The main economy in this community is subsistence agriculture, and people are barely surviving on less than a dollar a day. As we shared at the Vienna AIDS Conference this July 2010, its just so painful to sit and discuss with the old grandmothers, who struggle to make a choice on what to prioritize with the little income they may have. Should it be food? School fees? Medical care? Its not an easy choice. Therefore Rozaria Memorial Trust is also enabling the care-givers to have some measure of relief, while advocating for access to basic social services with government and other stakeholders.
Most of the children in our communities are born HIV positive. They have many questions, and at times seek the answers silently in their own hearts. This pain of knowing their status, and having to negotiate through the social stigma; the fear and at times the isolation can pay a heavy toll on the children, not only now but also in the future. This is the reason for our emphasis on psycho-social counselling for the children and their care-givers. This requires often a strong collaboration with the schools, since this is where the children of school-going age spend most of their time. RMT has been collaborating with seven schools in Murewa, in both skills training for the teachers as well as stigma reduction among the students. The annual schools essay competitions have been a great participatory approach for dialogue and sharing.
Hilda Mugaragumbo, Programme Assistant with Rozaria Memoral Trust stressed the importance of listening to the child. She spends most of the time interacting, visiting and sharing with the community, and she passionately advocates for a deeper focus on children, because they can be invisible and suffer in silence.
The possibilities created through the Global Giving is in itself big way of creating visibility for the issues facing children living with HIV not only Murewa, but globally. The response to our appeal and request for donations is so encouraging. There are people in this world who deeply care for others, seek to reach out to the unreachable, and this deeply motivates us in our own work.