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, 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 the many orphaned children needing care. Many orphaned children are growing up in desperate circumstances not because they have no one to care for them, but because their 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 literally no resources with which to provide for them.

Bopoma Villages trains and works alongside local volunteers to strengthen and equip families to provide a home and loving care for more than 450 orphaned children living in 15 villages in rural Zaka, Zimbabwe.

How do we do it?

  • We help 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 train communities to develop productive gardens to grow wholesome disease-fighting food for their families and extra to sell to earn income.
  • We train local volunteers to provide emotional and practical support for children and caregivers.
  • We build 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 help families overcome the barriers that keep them from sending their children to school.
  • We train communities in table banking and help them develop income generating projects.
  • We work with local churches to train orphan support teams, promote long-term fostering of orphaned children, and to overcome cultural taboos that have prevented families from providing care for an unrelated orphaned child.

 

We work with a dedicated team of local volunteers who have deep roots and connections in their communities. Our volunteers form a critical link between Bopoma Villages and the children and families we serve. 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 greater 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 reslience and strengthen caregivers and children to move past their traumatizing losses and begin rebuilding their lives.

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