Since starting up in 1997, the home-based care programme run by St Mary’s Parish in Matero, outskirts of Lusaka, has tended to the needs of people with HIV, TB and AIDS, as well as orphans. There are some 60 caregivers, who identify people with HIV in need of support and register them at the parish programme.
The caregivers visit their clients regularly, especially those who are very sick. They bathe, cook for and feed those who cannot look after themselves. Another task is monitoring ARV compliance, which they have been trained to do. Although the HBC has a few clients who needed intensive support, ARVs have helped many others to live a full life, to go to work and look after their families.
Dwindling donations over the years have meant that the HBC has had to search for its own means to run its day-to-day activities and to give food and other essential items to clients in need. In order to raise funds to help people with HIV and orphans, the HBC team runs two income-generating activities: sewing school uniforms and a tuck shop at the parish.
The HBC team also looks after the orphans left behind by people with HIV who died. Meanwhile, the parish runs a school called Ana Amasiye (orphans in Chewa, one of the Zambian languages) for orphans and vulnerable children who cannot afford to go to other schools. The school grew out of an initiative taken years ago by Rosina Mwiterera Chelo, a teacher who is one of the HBC caregivers. There are 400 pupils who get two meals a day: for some it is their only meal so the parish works hard to find food for them.