This photostory was produced by Tendayi and Cynthia Kureya; PANOS; SAFAIDS Zimbabwe and photography by Tendayi Kureya

My name is Hegger Ndagurwa. I am a care facilitator with Holy-Ghost Home Based Care (HBC) programme. The programme is based in Nyachityu village in Mutare South District in Zimbabwe. This is a predominantly dry area. Our programme offers multiple on-site services to address family needs more holistically. We cater for a total of 6,011 orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). Five hundred and one of these beneficiaries belong to child- headed households.

We also look after people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The programme has a grinding mill and sewing projects which enable income generation. For the young people, we run projects like carpentry, welding and sewing. Currently, the project supports 16 people who are on Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART). In this story, I will focus on our nutritional and herbal garden shown below.

Emerging issue: Community ownership

The climate in my village is very dry. We receive low annual rainfall and thus water availability is a big problem. Subsistence farming is our main source of livelihood and many of us cannot afford water pumps. Our garden serves a community where most members have little income and cannot afford formal health remedies. Furthermore, a large proportion of our community are apostolic faith believers who do not seek formal medical remedies.

Identifying Responses

As a support, our local authority donated a piece of land, which is more than two hectares. Complemented by assistance from Irish Aid, we managed to fence about three acres of this land. Currently, we use the fenced portion as our nutritional and herbal garden. Irish Aid also supported us with a borehole and bush pump, which is the main source of water for our garden.

The garden is divided into two portions. We use the first portion to grow herbs, including lemon grass, garlic, Artemisia annua and Artemisia afra. The most popular herb is Artemisia annua, which is used for colds, coughs, influenza, fever, loss of appetite, colic, headache, ear ache, malaria, intestinal worms and clearing eye cataracts, amongst others. After harvesting our fresh herbs, we dry them and send them to the Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP) Herbal Centre in Mutare for processing. The herbs are processed into soaps, ointments, cough mixtures and capsules. We use the processed remedies to help our HBC clients.

Impact on the Community

We use the second portion of our garden to grow vegetables. The vegetables we grow are proving effective in feeding child-headed households and giving nutritious food to HIV infected HBC clients. A portion of the garden has been allotted to some HBC programme clients. The beneficiaries also grow vegetables, which they use as relish and sell the surplus for income generation. Also below are testimonies from some of the beneficiaries.