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More than fifteen percent of the adult population of Zimbabwe is HIV-positive. Because of the AIDS pandemic, life expectancy has fallen to just 34 years. Many programs help Africa’s millions of AIDS orphans but few are in place to support adults living with the disease. Kim Riemland tells us about Project Tariro.

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SCRIPT:

(Locator: Mutare, Zimbabwe)

When Grace Somanji tested positive for HIV, her husband and family abandoned her. Those diagnosed with HIV are often shunned in Zimbabwe.

Grace Somanji, Project Tariro Participant:

(Translator says) “When I first learned I was HIV positive, I was shocked. I was angry. But with time and through counseling, I was able to accept my status and move on with life.”

Grace found a new start at Project Tariro, a United Methodist program. Its goal to help adults with AIDS is unique, since most efforts serve AIDS orphans.

Through Project Tariro, Grace reunited with her husband and both received vocational training to support themselves in a country with 80 percent unemployment. 

Grace Somanji, Project Taririo Paricipant:

(Translator says) “They started doing milk production using soya beans, making candles, making paraffin, making Vaseline, and crocheting like she is doing.”

Robin Nyamundanda is also HIV-positive. He says coming to the support group twice a week is his best medicine.

Robin Nyamundanda, Project Tariro Participant:

“We try to mobilize one another. As a group, we talk. We discuss.”

Robin works in Project Tariro’s garden. Volunteers plant crops and then cook a nutritious meal twice a week for those coming in for counseling. Healthy food combined with drug therapies helps patients turn a corner.

Alice Chihana nee Kuwana, Project Tariro: “It’s tremendous. We enjoy seeing people recovering and giving testimonies that after this long illness they are back on their feet in their lives.” 

“Tariro” is the Shona word for “hope” and the staff says this is the essential element in sustaining people with HIV.

Alice Chihana nee Kuwana, Project Tariro: “So after all this bad experience we always tell people, ‘Don’t be negative about being positive. There is always hope for the future.’” 

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Project Tariro is a partnership with Africa University and United Methodist churches in the U.S. and Zimbabwe. The group relies on fundraising for its annual operating budget of 120,000 U.S. dollars.

For more information on Project Tariro, visit the Web site or call Paul Van Buren at 615-758-4635.