FACT is rolling out a project funded by The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (Tearfund) Netherlands entitled “Strengthening churches’ capacity for effective support, HIV prevention and sexual reproductive health among vulnerable groups (women, girls, people with disabilities, people living with HIV and youths) in Bikita and Mutare rural districts of Zimbabwe”. The project has been in operation since 2011. It is being implemented in wards 20 and 24 in Bikita district of Masvingo Province and wards 16 and 17 of Mutare rural district of Manicaland Province. The major goal of the project is to improve the health status of women, girls, people with disabilities and youth living with HIV through strengthening the capacity of churches to implement effective support, HIV prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) interventions in Mutare rural and Bikita districts by 2015. The project is targeting youth living with HIV, people with disability, teenage mothers, church and traditional leaders, congregations, community facilitators and general youths. To date, 200 churches, 120 care facilitators, 3 416 community people have been reached with community sessions on the Safer sexual practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary testing and counselling and Empowerment (SAVE) approach to HIV prevention. A total of 1 200 beneficiaries were supported with livelihoods initiatives.
Four critical achievements realised on this project are:
- Formation of pastors’ fraternal (Bikita) and church coordinating teams (Mutare rural) which are spearheading community development.
- Mobilisation of locally available resources in Bikita (ward 24) as a result of trainings in the Church and Community Mobilisation Process (CCMP) approach which resulted in the construction of a waiting mothers’ shelter/home and a youth friendly centre at Dewure 1 Rural Health Centre.
- Four support groups (2 in Bikita & 2 in Mutare rural) for guardians of youth with disability have been established and church leaders have linked 20 youths with disability to other non-governmental organisations that support people with disability. The youths with disability have been supported with transport and medical fees incurred during treatment. Two of them received wheelchairs, three got walking crutches and one got an artificial leg. In Mutare rural seven youths with disability (5 females & 2 males) with hearing challenges were linked to NZEVE, (an organisation that works with children with hearing challenges). Currently the youths are engaged in livelihood activities like braiding, weaving and shoe-polish making to sustain their living.
- Increase in number of people accessing HIV testing and counselling even from apostolic sects that used to be averse in seeking these services.