Act against Aids

Insights: Rumbidzai

Support for a better life

Rumbidzai is a patient at Newlands Clinic for almost 15 years. Being HIV-positive herself, she lost her husband and three of her children because of Aids. The 54-year-old mother is looking after her family all by herself and is providing food to all of them.

«I need to live – who else is looking after my family?»

Rumbi fights every day to make sure that her family survives. She knows how to grow maize thanks to the farming program at Newlands Clinic. She feeds her whole family with the maize she harvests. In the video she is talking about her biggest dream – for her granddaughter to have a better life.

Early in the morning fog is still lying between the huts in the slum Hatcliffe. Rumbidzai puts a green scarf around her head and quietly wakes up her granddaughter Shayleen. She accompanies Shayleen to school by walking two kilometres back and two kilometres forth. Rumbidzai is a patient at Newlands Clinic for 15 years. Aids changed her life. She used to be a teacher and educated kids in school. Now she makes bags and accessoires out of plastic trash to earn a little extra.

Insights: Simba

Optimistic about the future despite HIV

Simba was born HIV-positive. His mother died of AIDS when he was six years old. In the same year he came to Newlands Clinic, where he received medical help as well as attention and support. It changed his life.

“I have a dream!”

Watch Simba's eyes light up in the video when he talks about his dream of becoming a doctor one day. He wants to help as many suffering people as possible in his country.

Simba's family is poor. To feed the extended family, his father grows corn, sweet potatoes and beans. But the harvest is often not enough, because it rains far too much or almost not at all. That's why Newlands Clinic is supporting the family with a maize farming project. In this way the family remains afloat, and Simba can do his best at school.

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In addition to going to school, Simba helps his father in the field. As part of the Newlands Clinic maize farming project, his father learned how to make compost, how to prepare the soil properly, and how to make sure the seeds are spread far enough apart when sowing.

HIV has turned the lives of Simba’s family upside down. His mother died of Aids. His HIV-positive father remarried, and Simba has a healthy half-brother. His older sister also gave birth to an HIV-negative boy thanks to treatment. Newlands Clinic helped this patchwork family to get back on its feet.

Simba has to leave early to get to class on time. He has a three kilometer walk ahead. In the past he often arrived hungry at school and had difficulty concentrating.

Simba has been receiving medical care at Newlands Clinic since he was six years old. Thanks to taking his medication regularly, he is now well – and can pursue his dreams.

Simba's biggest dream is to become a doctor one day. To achieve it, he must be one of the best in his school – something he is working hard for. (Photos: Simon Huber)

Insights: Magret and Rosaline

Fashioning a better future 

There was a time when Magret and Rosaline had nothing to do. Then they were able to set up a small company thanks to the vocational skills training programme for young people run by Newlands Clinic. «Unlimited Fashions» makes home textiles – and has opened up a whole new range of prospects for the young women.

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1/4: Magret (on the left) and Rosaline took part in the vocational skills training programme, and set up their own company together with a young man.

2/4: They cannot afford to pay rent, so their company is based for the time being in Magret's grandmother's living room.

3/4: The sewing machine was provided to the young patients as basic equipment. Their only problem is the frequent power cuts, but this should soon be solved with a solar panel.

4/4: "Unlimited Fashions" sells bedding, cushion covers and home textiles at local markets and to order.
(Photos: Patrick Rohr)

Magret and Rosaline meet us in Mbare, a high-density suburb of Harare. They want to show us their company "Unlimited Fashions", which they set up with a young man, Enoch. All three are patients at Newlands Clinic, but there is nothing apparent to suggest that they are HIV-positive and require life-long treatment.

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Magret, Rosaline and Enoch attended the vocational skills training programme aimed at helping young patients to support themselves. This is desperately needed because young people with HIV not only suffer from stigmatisation, they also have scarcely any career prospects given the dreadful state of the economy. «We just used to sit around all day,» says Magret. Many become depressed because of the difficult situation; young women often marry young and have children, even though they are unable to look after them.

The dream of running a shop

Both Magret and Rosaline already have a child, but they are fortunate in having a support network around them – and with Unlimited Fashions they now also have a small source of income. Competition is tough, but with the help of their mentor they are sticking at it. In the living room, cushion covers and bedding lie ready to be sold at the local market. Enoch is out buying material, Magret busy at the sewing machine, and Rosaline is getting the fabric ready. Their small children sleep in the next room.

«We would like to open a shop,» the young women tell us. There may be a lot of work still ahead, but they are clearly making the most of the opportunity that has presented itself.