VSO stopped working through international volunteers in the Zimbabwe programme in 2002. However, we continued to work with partners in other ways to support efforts to address the HIV and AIDS pandemic and also to support national volunteering initiatives. In 2009 we started the process of assessing the security situation with the focus of resuming the international volunteering programme. So far security assessments have been carried out in Harare, Rusape and Bulawayo and all have indicated that VSO can manage the risks associated with placing international volunteers. To this end one international volunteer arrived in Zimbabwe in January 2011 and completed a seven month placement with the National AIDS Council. VSO is now very pleased to be in the process of drafting a new country strategy paper with international volunteers once again at the heart of our programmes. We hope to have both the strategy in place and volunteers arriving frequently from early 2012.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, estimated at 13.6 per cent (UNAIDS, 2008). In January 2008, UNAIDS reported that HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe had fallen over the past five years. However, while education and publicity work to raise awareness of prevention methods have led to a decrease in the incidence of new infection, the number of orphans and people suffering from chronic illness due to HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe continues to escalate. The current economic situation has placed a very heavy burden on the health care system which is not almost totally dependent on international support to operate. It is envisaged that supporting work in the health and HIV sectors will remain core to VSO Zimbabwe’s new strategy.
VSO Zimbabwe focuses on supporting people living with HIV and AIDS through home-based care programmes and through guidance relating to their treatment regime, which includes specific advice on their medical treatment as well as broader awareness raising about the need for suitable nutrition, community support initiatives and activity to tackle stigma. It also works with partners who offer support to orphans and vulnerable children and importantly we also work closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
Since September 2002, VSO Zimbabwe has worked with over 30 AIDS service agencies (ASOs) in a range of ways:
Over 20 community-based organisations have received small grants from VSO to help fund their activities.
Local colleagues have participated in a number of national workshops and international exchanges, learning tours and conferences.
The implementation of training has improved individuals’ skills in areas such as awareness of treatment and counselling techniques, fundraising proposal writing and the development of public information resources.
VSO Zimbabwe also has a very strong national volunteering programme to encourage local people to volunteer in their communities. The programme focuses broadly on volunteering promotion, capacity building of partners and also professional volunteering initiatives.
Get in touch with VSO Zimbabwe at:
PO Box CY 1836, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe