The Diocese of Central Zimbabwe is planning an extensive food relief programme as the region is suffering a fourth year of major food shortages. The relief will be undertaken in conjunction with the Church’s HIV/AIDS programmes, as these programmes already have an existing support network, though resources are likely to be stretched to their limit.
Peter Kwaramba, the diocesan communications officer said in the latest edition of “Partners” – the journal of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Transvaal – that the food shortages added further burdens to the region as the HIV/AIDS pandemic was continuing to “wreak havoc here in the diocese,” he said, adding, “Ahead of us is a very gloomy picture of food security.”
The journal also reports that on average two parishioners die of AIDS every month per parish. This translates into three people every day in the Central Zimbabwe diocese. In 2003, the diocese set up its HIV/AIDS programme, which includes 24 community-based counsellors and a communications desk in Gweru City and 21 home-based car volunteers in Chiwundura’s St Patrick’s Mission catchment area.
Mr Kwaramba is currently supervising the effort, called the St. Patrick’s HIV/AIDS action programme or PATHAIDS. It is hoped, said Mr Kwaramba, that in 2004 the project will be extended across the diocese with all churches having an active HIV/AIDS committee and co-ordinator. PATHAIDS will act as the pilot project, not only for HIV/AIDS prevention, but also to deal with its contingent problems, including support for the terminally ill, orphaned and marginalised children, and for families in general. “The project sees HIV/AIDS as a developmental problem and tackles its prevention, care and support…with empowerment…spiritual and economic,” said Mr Kwaramba. The only problem with ensuring the project worked, he added, was a lack of funds and a vehicle.
Related to the HIV/AIDS project is the construction of a new hospital at St Patrick’s Mission to expand an already stretched local clinic. It will have modern consulting rooms, two student wards, maternity wards, HIV wards and counselling rooms. The plans have been approved and the foundations have been dug, though again, reported Mr Kwaramba, funds remained an issue. He hoped that the student wards would be operational at the end of the year.
The Diocese of Central Zimbabwe is part of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
Article By Michael Craske