The HIV/AIDS pandemic that hit Zimbabwe in the mid-1980's left behind a generation of orphaned children. While grieving the tragic loss of their sons and daughters, grandmothers and other relatives, often elderly widows in poor health themselves, have stepped in to provide care for these children with love and commitment, but few resources.
The increasingly harsh economic and health challenges facing rural communities in Zimbabwe have severely challenged the ability of extended family members to provide for all of the orphaned children needing care. Many orphaned children are growing up in desperate circumstances, not because there is no one to care for them, but because their extended families are extremely poor.
Some orphaned children are moved from family member to family member, or in the worst circumstances, abandoned, because their caregivers have no resources with which to provide for them.
Bopoma Villages trained and worked alongside local volunteers to strengthen and equip families to provide a home and loving care for hundreds of orphaned children living in 15 villages in rural Zaka, Zimbabwe. This work is continuing under the local Zimbabwe team.
- We helped caregivers improve their own and their families' health with clean water, nutritious food, and simple but powerful health interventions. Healthy people can farm, sell produce, and care for others.
- We trained communities to develop productive gardens to grow wholesome disease-fighting food for their families and extra to sell to earn income.
- We trained local volunteers to provide emotional and practical support for children and caregivers.
- We built emotional resilience by connecting caregivers and orphaned children with each other through regular gatherings to share experiences, learn together, and work on joint projects.
- We helped families overcome the barriers that keep them from sending their children to school.
- We trained communities in table banking and help them develop income generating projects.
- We worked with local churches to develop orphan support teams, promote long-term fostering of orphaned children, and overcome cultural taboos that prevent families from providing care for unrelated orphaned children.
- We provided temporary residential care for children in urgent need while we conducted extensive family tracing. When a suitable family was found, we worked to prepare for a successful reunification. We continued with follow-up visits to ensure the child's needs were being met.