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the vulnerable - Interview with Tamuka Foundation, Kuwadzana
February 08, 2012
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Foundation is a community organisation based in Kuwadzana.
problems did you see that made you decide to establish Tamuka Foundation?
Our founders used to work for the National
Aids Council (NAC) as caregivers. When NAC stopped doing coordination,
people still kept coming to the founders to look for help. The founders
used their own funds and resources to help people, until it became
unsustainable, so they were advised to establish an organisation.
We work with orphans and vulnerable children, people living with
or affected by HIV and the disabled. We run income-generating projects.
These are implemented so that the people we help are able to become
independent and earn a living for themselves and their families.
We also run some projects (gardening and animal rearing) for nutritional
purposes. We also run programmes like behaviour change, which is
especially good for the youth, and psychosocial support for OVCs.
We run workshops, and organise music and drama. With these programmes
we try to raise awareness about HIV.
Mahaso: Our main programmes deal with HIV. We have got prevention,
mitigation and treatment programmes. They are related to the thematic
areas that are charted in the National response to HIV/ AIDS. Tamuka
is a community-based organisation, so we rely and work with the
community and we work for their benefit. The community has responded
very positively. They are participating in our programmes and activities.
are you assisting young people?
With child-headed households, we look to see what the family situation
is like. We help some children with school fees, food packs, and
accommodation. There are some who don't have a home or a place
to stay; those are the ones we take in. Right now we have 30 children.
Some of them have bed-ridden parents; other's have been abandoned
or have been given to us by Social Welfare. There are others who,
when we assess the family situation, we see that they can't
continue staying in that environment.
When we work with older youth we look to see what problems
are affecting them, and then we create a project that helps towards
meeting their needs. Nowadays we all know that the infection rate
of HIV for youth is very high. So we came up with workshops that
were related to behaviour change. We also deal with unemployment
in terms of creating projects that help them. We are currently running
several income generating projects like candle-making, sewing, peanut
butter making, knitting, gardening. Last November we started a rabbit
and poultry project. We serve as a platform for them to start the
project, and then they run it on their own.
challenges have you faced in your work?
Mahaso: We face challenges in getting funding for our programming.
We have made contact with funding organisations, but the response
is either no or wait a little bit. To get funding sometimes we run
around on our own as the executive committee and the members. We
dip into our pockets and finance the small things. Here and there
we get some well wishers who'll give us funding for specific
projects. We remain with this challenge, as we go along. We are
used to it. But we will never abandon any of our activities to scout
for funding. You know these big donors are reluctant to fund these
would you say have been your successes?
Our major success is the turn out. When we started it is was
very low, but now we have more than 100 youth registered with the
organisation. Many of them are making a living from the projects
that we initiate. Some have even managed to marry and have their
Mahaso: These youths have organised themselves into a very
interesting group. They've got a choice to make at the end
of the day. They need to decide if they are open to temptations
and to decide what they want their future to be. Most of them, their
lives really changed as a result of these things. We have a herbal
garden, the income from which has changed the lifestyle of the participants
of that project. They get a few things from it here and there that
help them in their personal lives, but mostly it's the income.
We have a dance group that has also helped a lot of people. Within
that group there are several sub-groups. There are others who have
started with us and gone on to form their own groups. We have a
music band that has released two albums. With male circumcision,
we are leading in driving it as a prevention programme. We have
nutrition programmes; these are largely focussed towards younger
children. Then we offer home based care and support. We had taken
in a whole family, a young woman with two younger brothers. These
two boys had to take care of their older sister who was bed-ridden.
We managed to intervene and take them in. We worked together with
government health facilities to get her treatment. If you see her
now you wouldn't believe it.
you give me an example of how you work?
Over Christmas there was a girl who fell pregnant and was then kicked
out by her parents. She then went to her boyfriend's house,
but her boyfriend's parents would not accept her child. They
then told her to bring her child to us. I ended up going to her
boyfriend's father's house with her, and we managed
to negotiate with them and her parents so that she could live with
her mother. There are children who have been chased away from home
because of a disagreement. One child went to the police and reported
their parent for abuse. The police went to the house and settled
the issue. But later on the same child ran away to Mai Kwati's
house, saying that they could live at home anymore. The child's
mother had passed away and at home the father had remarried. I went
with the child to the home and spoke with the parents to try to
settle the issues that were going on there. We've also inducted
the child into our behaviour change programmes.
Mahaso: We have a lot of examples that mean and speak to different
things. There's another girl who has been abused . . .
Her name was Grace. She was abused by her mother's brother.
She reported him to the police. But since he was the one looking
after her she couldn't go back home after that. We took her
in. After she had her baby we also arranged for her to go back to
school. Now she's an adult and she has her education. With
many children we also do follow ups to see how they are living and
make sure their living situation is ok.
would you say is your biggest wish as an organisation?
Mahaso: Our biggest wish is to have our own skills training
centre. That is our biggest wish. Where the community receives life
skills training. People should use that as a starting point, or
platform, to build their lives. You know the prevalence of HIV/
AIDS is linked to poverty. We should never lose sight of that. Once
we eradicate or reduce poverty, in line with MDGs, that is definitely
going to reduce the incidence of HIV. So our biggest wish is to
make that kind of impact in our community and ultimately the whole
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