Netherlands Red Cross salutes Zimbabwe Red Cross Society

By Takemore Mazuruse – Marketing and Public Relations Officer Zimbabwe Red Cross Society

A visiting Netherlands Red Cross delegation has saluted the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society for effectively implementing its Community Based HIV and AIDS programme in Manicaland. The Programme which covers wards 12, 15, 17 and 27 in Mutare Rural district and wards 19, 20, 21, 23 and 32 in Buhera district is funded by Netherlands Red Cross to the tune of USD86 612.80 running from 2011 to 2012.

 

The Netherlands Red Cross delegation was made up of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Southern Africa HIV delegate Samuel Matoka and Marianne Deelder. They ZRCS Health and Care Coordinator Mrs Janet Muteiwa, the Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Officer Mrs Pamla Toto and a provincial team from Manicaland accomapnied them on a tour of the project areas in Manicaland.  The delegation managed to tour project areas in Mutare rural district. “It was really encouraging witnessing the positive change brought by the programme. Some of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children aged 15 were actually wearing shoes for the very first time in their lives and one can imagine the level of motivation this has on these vulnerable children as they embark on an educational journey that can make their future brighter,” said

Of the programme, the Netherlands delegation said they were happy with the way the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society was implementing as stipulated in the agreement. “What we have seen in Manicaland is evidence of a motivated staff, provincial team, and volunteers as well as the beneficiary communities. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is doing their work according to our expectations and from our findings, the programme is certainly going to have a positive impact in the community,” they concurred.

Through the programme, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society provides educational support to 228 Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) for primary and secondary education, shoes for 228 OVCs, tertiary educational support to 4 Orphans and Vulnerable Children and provision of Hygienic articles like blankets, towels and sanitary pads to 76 OVCs. Other components of the programme included holding sensitization meetings with stakeholders in Mutare and Buhera, training of 20 peer educators including 2 youth advisors on life skills, STIs, HIV and AIDS and SRH. 8 Ambassadors of Hope were also trained in addressing community events.

The ZRCS National Health and Care Coordinator Mrs Janet Muteiwa highlighted that they managed to score successes with the programme by way of incorporating the relevant stakeholders in the programme. “We are working with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture, the Department of Social Welfare which helps with the selection of beneficiaries from their register of OVCs, people living with HIV and AIDS and the community because children belong o the community,” she said. The Ministry of Health comes because of the health component while the Ministry of Education is involved given that the programme contributes to the education of the Zimbabwean child which is a mandate of the ministry.

Mrs Muteiwa also revealed that the programme was effective in that the volunteers they are working with have got a sound understanding of the Red Cross owing to the previous ZRCS health programme in the area. “The Netherlands Red Cross supported programme has really made a difference in the province. The children are now going to school because they have the school fees and complete uniforms. This development also adds to the psychosocial element because the children do not feel any different from their peers. Our ambassadors of hope have also helped in dealing with stigma and discrimination with almost every community member now educated on positive living. Our grannies clubs from the previous project also laid a perfect foundation for the current programme because from the community gardens, they are now into poultry and small livestock projects which give them income to further support their orphans,” she said.

Though some challenges were faced in implementing the programme, the progress made is satisfactory with the beneficiary students, their teachers and community leaders saluting the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society for its sterling work in empowering the vulnerable communities. Some of the challenges faced included delays in procurement process of items in bulk, rising costs of uniforms, shortage of IEC material in the local language and the long distances covered by volunteers as they coordinate the programme.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Secretary General Mrs Emma Kundishora thanked the Netherlands Red Cross for its support in alleviating human suffering in Zimbabwe. “We really appreciate the efforts being made by our partners from the Netherlands Red Cross in answering to the needs of the vulnerable groups. It is no hidden truth that competing humanitarian needs always outweigh available resources but the support we received from Netherlands Red Cross has gone a long way in boosting our humanitarian coffers. We hope to continue having this kind of support so that together we can make the world a better place for the vulnerable groups”.

To further highlight the level of impact and effectiveness that the programme has made, of the 4 Tertiary students being supported by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, two students are studying Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe and another one studying Agriculture. The lives of these young Zimbabweans have certainly changed for the better and it is hoped such success stories will continue inspiring other beneficiaries of the programme.