Life-changing programmes for orphaned children in Murehwa

By Archford Chirimudombo

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MARONDERA- Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care (HCOC) continues to roll out HIV/AIDS
interventions that are impacting positively to orphans, vulnerable children and child headed
families in Murehwa district, as various organisations put their hands on the deck in the
fight to end HIV and AIDS in the country.
HOCC works closely with the Government through the National Aids Council (NAC) and its
interventions have resulted in the reduction of HIV related deaths in Murehwa.
Speaking at a tour of a clinic built by the organization, Albert Mukonda who is the director
said prior to their timely interventions, many young people were succumbing to HIV related
illnesses but occurrence of such incidences since been reduced in the community.
“There are many children who were born with the disease and we counsel them to accept
their conditions and adhere to treatment as a starting point. We currently have 36 kids in
our register specifically for that programme.
“Our interventions enabled an increase in drug uptake and a reduction in opportunistic
infection cases as well as viral load suppressions. We also provide nutritional support and
this aims at improving our targets immune system through the provision of monthly
nutritional food packs,” he said.
Mukonda further stated that they are now establishing a clinic which will serve the affected
children, in a friendly environment.
“As an organisation, we are complimenting government efforts and we aim to offer child
friendly health services that are acceptable to the youth and young children, among others.
We are also aiming to offer disability friendly services to the child and sexual reproductive
health services to the youths,” he said.
On the issue of adherence, he said the organisation has since given those on ART some
mobile cell phones which they use to remind them of the importance of taking their
medication.
“Adherence is very important and to ensure that they comply, we do home visits, phone-
based follow ups, we purchased mobile phones to facilitate communication with the
children and adolescents on ART.
“There is also provision of nutritional care. We distribute nutrition packs. Adherence is
encouraged by the availability of healthy diet.

He said as an organisation, they are working closely with the local clinics in their efforts to
assist in HIV and AIDS fight and commended the National Aids Council for the unwavering
support.
“NAC has supported us, they have exposed us to various meetings. We are empowered.”
Meanwhile the Murehwa-based organisation is paying fees for 238 children, with 14 of
them currently acquiring University education at various institutions in the country.
Mukonda said some of them have already graduated from various institutions across the
country.
“We used to have a high number of children who were struggling after their parents would
have succumbed to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses but following our intervention, that is no-
longer the case.
“There are also child-headed families that we are providing with food hampers on a regular
basis and besides that, we are paying school fees for 238 of them at the moment. In the
near future, we will be officially opening a child-friendly clinic at Nyamashato and the
feeding programme we are talking about is catering for children at six schools within our
vicinity,” Mukonda said.
He added that their programmes are sustained by projects such as farming.

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