Empowering Families to Care for Orphans


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.

Our Approach

  • 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.


Our volunteers have deep roots and connections in their communities. They form a critical link between Bopoma Villages and the children and families we serve and are an integral part of the circle of support we are building around each vulnerable child. Monthly training meetings provide the opportunity for Bopoma Villages to build strong community leaders and for volunteers and communities to learn from each other. Volunteers from stronger communities play an important role in supporting and encouraging volunteers from communities that need more support, through informal discussions and information sharing and more formal village exchange visits.

Our local volunteers conduct regular home visits and follow-ups in their own communities, organize and lead village support groups for caregivers and children, and encourage participation in Bopoma Villages’ agricultural and other training. When caregivers and children meet with others in similar circumstances it helps them see that they are not alone in their struggles and provides them with the opportunity to share challenges and coping strategies and offer one another emotional comfort and support. Building emotional resilience is essential to building strong families and communities.

People who are extremely poor often describe their situation less in terms of their lack of resources than their isolation, humiliation and hopelessness. Our volunteers play a vital role in building community and personal connections that increase emotional resilience and strengthen caregivers and children to move past their traumatizing losses and begin rebuilding their lives.

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