The AHEAD Model: 4
Supportive social networks for the vulnerable
What is Social Capital?
‘those tangible substances that count for most in the lives of people: namely goodwill, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among individuals and families who make up a social unit…
The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help sympathy and the fellowship of his neighbours.’
Hanifan, L.J. (1916) The Rural School Community Center’ American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 67 p.130-138.
Coping Strategies : HIV/AIDS
With limited resources, Western donors tend to target primarily the vulnerable, particularly ‘people living with AIDS’ (PLWAs), in order to alleviate the worst suffering. The community focus, typically, is much more holistic, and singling out household for special support often breeds resentment in a continent where large sectors of people suffer in one way or another. The direct targeting of ‘the vulnerable’ as a group to be supported by external donations tends to further entrench their poor self image and sense of hopeless as they become increasingly dependent on handouts and charity. The AHEAD approach is to incorporate HIV/AIDS as one of many disadvantages alongside frailty of the elderly and the mentally/physically challenged and enables systems for providing local support from within the community for many of the problems associated with the poorest of the poor. We seek to elevate their status by providing coping mechanisms to alleviate their conditions or stress, rather than encourage a dependency syndrome.
Support for Orphans and Widows:
The overriding problem in many countries where infection rates have already peaked is now the increasing number of orphans and widows who are being left to fend for themselves when the family bread winner dies prematurely from AIDS. Premature deaths overburden surviving relatives financially, and as a result many orphans are rejected and are forced to live in child-headed families without support, or on the streets. The only resource they have may be to earn through sex work, making them doubly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection.The AHEAD approach nourishes a sense of responsibility within the health club for all those at risk health-wise. The club can become a key institution locally for the management of welfare issues. Health Clubs have identified those within their villages who are old, widowed, disadvantaged, orphaned or terminally ill and have provided relief for them in the form of food or clothes. They assist with school fees, harvesting, and building latrines for those in need. To engender this sense of social support is the ultimate aim of the AHEAD Methodology, but this is only feasible once there is a general sense of social security, allowing members to afford the luxury of altruism.
Home Based Care of Terminally Ill:
Traditionally those who are terminally ill tend to come back to their rural homes to die, and rely on their spouses for nursing. However many village women have no experience in caring for the many opportunistic diseases that make an immune deficient person’s life unbearable. Thus, palliative care is one of the major requirements for management of the social fall-out from the AIDS pandemic. There is a Home-based Carer Trainer in each club who assists a care giver in each affected family. They counsel on the issues of HIV/AIDS and teach how to look after the bed-bound and how to minimize risks of transmission. Ideally each (PLWA) householdshould have its own protected family well and nutrition garden. To minimize physical exertion a ‘drip kit’ should be supplied to enable easy irrigation, and conservation of water. In addition to providing a ready supply of vitamins and thus a balanced diet, the sales from the garden can support the family even after the death of the breadwinner.
Use of Medical Herbs:
Medicinal herbs have been used throughout the ages to cure many complaints such as diarrhea, infected throat, skin diseases, urine infections, aching joints, headaches and toothaches, and many other common ailments. Those with immune deficiency suffer from many opportunistic diseases, which are now being treated by home based carers who have been trained by a herbalist in each health club to recognize and use traditional herbal remedies effectively. As these herbs can be readily propagated, grown and processed locally, this had been an immensely popular programme in Makoni, Zimbabwe where this approach is being pioneered. Herbal remedies have enabled people to live longer and more productively, thus enabling their children to benefit from a few more years of parental support and guidance. Although herbs cannot save those infected from this terminal illness they do substantially improve their quality of life.
Counseling & Coping Strategies:
The CHC provides a safety net for those faced with premature death and enables them to plan for their family’s future with the full support of their friends and neighbours who are unprejudiced due to their understanding of the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Each club has a dedicated counselor with registered clients who are helped to cope with issues beyond their own capacity.
Rosenfeld, J.A. (2007). The Power of Participatory Education: Social Capital in Zimbabwe. Unpublished.
“Woman’s place is in the Home, but Home is not contained within the four walls of an individual home. Home is the community.” – Rhetta Childe Dorr, 1910
Zimbabwe is a country in crisis. This is what the international news agencies tell you, and for the most part they are correct. As one moves around the country the signs that things are not well are everywhere: shops with little to nothing on their shelves or that have simply closed; long queues outside of supermarkets as shoppers hope to purchase half a loaf of bread; power fluctuations in Harare; no fuel available at the gas stations; and an inflation rate that has at last estimate surpassed 7,000%. However, not all is as it appears at first glance.
In fact, despite this apparent economic collapse, there are portions of Zimbabwean society that have thrived and increased their capital over the years. In the urban centers like Harare and Makoni, the amazing number of brand new luxury cars and SUVs show that the middle and upper class are thriving off of the black market that has supplanted the regular economy and now supports all life and commerce. In this Zimbabwe, people have clearly increased their access to financial, and in turn physical, capital. On the other hand, in some of the rural areas, even those considered to be the poorest and most vulnerable in all of Zimbabwe, communities are increasing their capital of another sort; social capital. Generally, social capital refers to the connections among individuals, including the social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them.
For the rest of the article, please go to: The Power of Participatory Education: Social Capital in Zimbabwe