Note From the Field: Planning a National HIV/AIDS Conference in Zimbabwe – One More Reason Why I Love My Job
September 8, 2011
After a few days of severe sleep deprivation planning the second National Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Conference, I have a thousand more reasons why I love my job!
The conference currently underway is a follow-up to the first National HIV/AIDS Conference held in Zimbabwe in 2004. This year, the focus was on providing a national platform for high-level advocacy, reflection, and planning around our country’s response to the goal of eliminating new HIV infections in children and keeping mothers alive.
The Foundation was on the organizing committee with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW), the National AIDS Council (NAC), and UNAIDS, and we provided substantial technical and financial support to the MoHCW to host the conference.
Activity reached a fever pitch at our office one week before the conference, as we received the mandate to coordinate the production of the conference’s key resource document
including the abstracts book, the programme, the banners, the conference theme song, and the delegate package.
Amid this flurry of activity, we also received confirmation from the Office of the President that he had accepted the invitation to officiate during the opening ceremony.
There was simply no room for mistakes.
I felt elated, but the feeling was quickly replaced with butterflies in my stomach, which have only just left now!
I was soon to learn that it’s not business as usual
when the President accepts an invitation to an event.
All the same, I was elated that we would have the opportunity at the highest level in Zimbabwe to not only advocate for our children, but also to showcase the Foundation’s work and progress fighting pediatric AIDS.
Our very own Country Director, Dr. Agnes Mahomva, was selected to be in the team of dignitaries who welcomed the presidential delegation and sat at the head table.
The delegation toured the community village, a satellite to the main scientific forum where community-based organizations exhibit their services and carry out various activities to create local awareness and demand for HIV services.
The Foundation had its own exhibition stand there, which the delegation visited.
Our Technical Director, Dr. Batsi Chikwinya, had the opportunity to tell them more about the Foundation’s work in Zimbabwe to support the government in eliminating pediatric AIDS.
By the end of the day, we had gotten our message out even further. We managed to get on every radio station, the national TV channel, and the main newspapers, talking about eliminating new HIV infections in children and keeping mothers alive and healthy.
We got the high-level notice this cause deserves, and in addition, the attention of the whole country.
Never a dull day in the Zimbabwe office, and one more reason why I love my job!
Caroline Madiro-Zinyemba is a Communications & Advocacy Officer in the Foundation's Zimbabwe office in Harare.