Since the identification of the HI virus in Zimbabwe in 1985, the epidemic impacted seriously on every facet of human security. Rural areas by virtue of being the periphery and constrained in terms of health care provision bear the brunt of the epidemic. It is against this background that Ruvheneko Programme was established at St Theresa’s Hospital in Chirumhanzu. By contributing to the discourse of development studies, the quest for this study is to examine how the rural initiative leading to the establishment of Ruvheneko Programme at St Theresa’s Mission Hospital has helped to mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS in Chirumhanzu. The study gives primacy to how the Ruvheneko Programme managed to successfully engage with community members despite the failure usually associated with HIV and AIDS engagement projects. It also reflects on how the successful implementation of Ruvhenekos Programme led to the creation of other related programmes in Manicaland and Masholand East Provinces in Zimbabwe. The study utilises insights from the social capital theory in its endeavour to demonstrate how social cohesion resulted in the establishment of the Ruvheneko Programme. A qualitative research design was adopted and convenience sampling was used to select participants for interviews and this included those who were directly involved in the phenomena. The study deduced that, unlike other HIV and AIDS programmes that are exported from the urban to the rural areas, Ruvheneko Programme is a model for grassroot level response to HIV and AIDS. The main finding is that despite receiving donor support, the success of Ruvheneko Programme is attributed to social cohesion fostered by such aspects as religiosity, cultural ethos of Ubuntu and consultative approach that was adopted in engaging the community. More importantly, Ruvheneko Programme remains an example of how communities can effectively respond to the challenges which face them through utilising locally available networks and resources. The study however recommends that further research should also focus on finding how the Ruvheneko Programme may be self-sufficient financially, amid fears of donor fatigue and centralisation of donor funds by the Zimbabwe National AIDS Council (NAC).
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2015.