Zvandiri trains, mentors and supports children, adolescents and young people living with HIV to lead the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of their own advocacy initiatives. Zvandiri advocates utilise a wide range of media to advocate for improved, child and adolescent-focused policies and guidelines, resource mobilisation and service delivery. As Zvandiri Advocates graduate out of the programme, they train and mentor their peers to take over the reins, ensuring sustained advocacy and peer-led skills transfer.
Zvandiri has learned that the most powerful advocacy can be achieved through the meaningful engagement of young people in safe, creative, participatory story telling processes. Zvandiri has demonstrated this through a wide portfolio of advocacy materials developed and shared by Zvandiri youth, in the form of books, film, song and dance.
In 2020 Zvandiri received a grant from the HER Voice Fund which offers small grants in 13 priority countries, where the Global Fund is investing, to amplify the voices and priorities of adolescent girls and young women.
Through the ‘Her Voice, Her Story’ project funded by ViiV and implemented by Y+ Global, Zvandiri engaged adolescent girls and young women from 10 provinces of Zimbabwe in a youth-led, participatory story telling process, which provided them with an opportunity to document and share their stories and advocate for improved policy, funding and services.
Due to COVID lockdowns, an online training in the art of ‘story-telling for advocacy’ was held for ten young advocates and they were provided with guidance and tools to collect stories from their communities. A three-day workshop was then held in Harare, Zimbabwe to write and develop the stories as a group, supported by Zvandiri staff. The group of 10 advocates developed a story book ‘Her Voice, Her Story’ to highlight the challenges facing adolescent girls and young women across Zimbabwe to bring them to the attention of policy makers. Working with the HER Voice Ambassadors Zvandiri worked to disseminate the stories.
Due to the success of the project, Zvandiri secured a second grant to support 6 young women to learn further skills in advocacy and to represent their provinces as part of the executive committee of the Young People’s Network on SRH and HIV & AIDS, Zimbabwe.
The Faith and Communities Initiative (FCI) programme identified advocates to work through community dialogues to create demand for HIV self-testing and support for HIV treatment. The programme ran from 2019-2021 with support from PEPFAR. Fifty-six champions were identified from across 9 districts in Zimbabwe including interfaith leaders, opinion leaders and men and young boys. Through community dialogues and
messages of hope, the community was mobilised to identify index cases to be tested and promoted increased HIV self-testing for children, adolescents, young people and adult men.
Community dialogues reached 160 people and explored key barriers to HIV testing including the lack of awareness of self-testing, myths around faith healing for HIV and stigma in communities creating fear around testing.
The FCI Champions’ advocacy work improved awareness and understanding of HIV self-testing and they acted as important role models for the wider community through their learning about HIV and work to address myths and misconceptions and the stigma around HIV.
“In our church when young couples came for marriage counselling if one of the partner was positive, we would discourage the marriage. The community dialogue that we have done today has been an eye opener to appreciate and understand”
“We haven’t reached a stage of normalizing HIV and we rarely talk about it at church, hence this programme came at a good time for us to share such information about HIV that we were not aware of with the congregation.”
“There are 2 different HIV, the one which is spiritual and that we can heal. The second one is the one which is within the blood which needs ART and for those clients we refer to the clinic’’