Because of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe, many children have been left without parents to support them. These children end up in child-headed households with caregivers - often elderly grandparents - who are unable to fully care for them. These children are incredibly independent, intelligent, and resilient.
These are their stories.
Tendai, Julius, and Faith Simbayani
Zienzele began supporting Tendai and Julius in 2006 when they were living with their sick,
widowed mother. Tendai was 10 and Julius was 4. Two years later their mother passed away and
Tendai was left alone to care for Julius. A few months later their older brother Livious, left his 4 year old daughter Faith for Tendai to care for as well. Tendai is charming, bright, energetic, and loves fashion. While she is still responsible for her younger siblings, Tendai is currently studying to get her certificate in early childhood development and hopes to one day work as a pre-school teacher.
Tenashe, and Tapiwa Chauke
Zienzele has been supporting twelve year old twin brothers Tenashe and Tapiwa for the past four years. They live in the house their mother's brother built for them with their seventeen year old sister Winette who is now a post-secondary student. Tenashe and Tapiwa's older brother was recently killed in South Africa and his widow now leaves her two children with them, often for months at a time. The four children are now in primary school and are doing very well.
When their parents died, Vimbai and her sister Nyaradzai were taken in by their aunt and uncle. Vimbai was born healthy but Nyaradzai was born HIV positive. Sadly, Nyaradzai’s medications were not managed consistently and a few years ago she became very ill and died. Her sister’s death devastated Vimbai and she still struggles with feeling responsible. No longer able to live with her aunt and uncle, she now lives at secondary school and stays in Harare during holidays with other family.
Joice and Joseph Gadziwa
Joseph is fifteen years old and Joice is ten. They have lived on their own for many years in a small house in Rungai. Sadly, when both their parents died of HIV, they had no relatives willing to take them in. Joseph is in Secondary School and Joice is in Primary School. They survive with the support of the Zienzele foundation and their community.