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2014 Project Review in Pictures

December 2, 2014

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October 17, 2014


PROJECT TARIRO is moving into intensive farming with a new greenhouse to propagate vegetable seedlings and an irrigation system for year around production.  David Mandizvidza, horticulturist and manager the 7 acre demonstration farm at Project Tariro at Old Mutare, is currently growing tomatoes and beans for immediate consumption.  Vegetable and crop production is part of a larger plan by the Tariro Board of Directors to move this program toward self- sustainability. October 2014

Project Tariro: Improving Health…Improving Lives

The 15 week training program for Project Tariro’s clients includes not only how to grow nutritious foods and herbs but also how to prepare the foods to be more tasty. Seeds as well as chickens and rabbits are provided to the graduates to take home and establish their own gardens and livestock for reproduction and improving their own diet.

Holiday Giving

October 15, 2014

This fall, as the sounds of Christmas music fill the airwaves, and the stores beckon us to join what has become a commercialized frenzy, Project Tariro offers several ways for you to honor loved ones  to engage the true spirit of gift-giving by giving gifts that really make a difference—for some, a difference between hope and despair.

Calendar Pic

2015 Tariro calendars featuring the HIV+ clients of Project Tariro are now available for a donation at least $20.  Email your order to Paul Van Buren.

Or, you may choose from the following ways to provide direct assistance:

  • Purchase a rabbit or two laying chickens to help a graduating Project Tariro client generate family income and sustain a nutritious diet ($10 ea)
  • Supply a healthcare kit with first aid supplied to assist community healthcare workers ($35 ea)
  • Purchase cooking oil so community health workers can receive monthly supply ($12 ea)
  • Purchase one bolt of cloth, thread and needles for sewing class participants ($75 ea)

Donations are tax deductible.  Make your check payable to Project Tariro, with gift type specified in lower left corner. Mail to:

GBHEM Project Tariro
PO Box 440102
Nashville, TN 37244-0102

Option One-Green

Merry Christmas

Option Two-Red


Daring myself to visit a brave ministry

October 1, 2014

by David Lawrence

My world is focused on work, church, and my family. In spring 2013, I was had no thought of travel. Yet by summer I learned that some of my friends at Grace United Methodist Church in Mount Juliet, Tenn., would be taking a mission trip to Zimbabwe to visit Project Tariro.


David meets some of the Project Tariro clients.

I had heard of previous trips, led by Rev. Dr. Paul Van Buren and Bobby Naylor, to this AIDS clinic and ministry at the Old Mutare Mission. I knew it helped those infected with HIV to live positively. When I had heard reports from those earlier trips, I wished I had attended. I challenged myself to participate if another opportunity arose.

That summer, hearing of the next trip, I replayed in my mind again and again the challenge I had made to myself. This time, I would take the risk of going to Africa.

At our team meetings, led by Paul and Bobby, we planned our itinerary for eleven days in Zimbabwe and prepared a list of all the items we would take. These meetings were critical for team building and spiritual formation. Some members had to drop out, leaving only seven of us: Paul, Bobby, Ed Britt (senior pastor at Grace), Larry Price, Gil Pollard, Ron Tinley, and myself.

We left Nashville on a cold, gray November day. When we arrived in Zimbabwe, spring was starting. The bright blue flowers of the jacaranda trees were in bloom and people were planting crops.

I have only flown twice in this post-9/11 world of ours. One of those trips was to Jamaica, for which I did not need a passport at the time. So getting a passport for this trip was a new thing for me. When I was getting my photo taken, folks would ask me about my destination. They seemed a bit puzzled when I would tell them, “I’m headed for Zimbabwe!” Zimbabwe? I’m sure they thought I was a better candidate for Cancún or perhaps Europe. I admit that when I often thought of international travel, Zimbabwe had not been on my radar either.

An apprehensive start

Arriving at the airport I immediately met up with two other members of the team, Bobby and Gil. Here I was, ready to take off, feeling extremely apprehensive and excited at the same time. I was thankful that both Bobby and Gil had made this trip before. That calmed the uncertainty that raced through my mind as we checked in and made our way through the security screenings and general “race to the gate” mindset that seems common to air travelers.

During our first full day in Zimbabwe, we traveled from the capital city of Harare to Mutare, about a four and a half hours to
the southeast. As we drove along I saw so many people walking by the side of the road. I was puzzled about where they might be going; I didn’t see much in the way of a town or roadside markets.Still, they were walking. Sometimes I would see women balancing large bags on their heads or carrying bundles of sticks that may be used for a cooking fire.

About half way to Mutare we stopped at Mbizi (the Shona word for zebra) Game Park. There I got a taste of what Africa must have been like before colonial powers arrived and turned the hunting of big game not for food but for sport. The trails wove through the park like a fanciful tapestry with the portraits of all the beautiful creatures that inhabit the preserve.

Heads held high

Once we arrived in Old Mutare and the mission there, I saw with my own eyes the Project Tariro clinic, which is helping so many people with AIDS to help themselves. We settled into a quaint B&B called La Rochelle, located in the lush Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. Our host, Simon Herring; his lovely family; and dedicated staff were very warm and friendly and made us feel right at home when we arrived.

Over the next week we would assist the ministry through such projects as raising a greenhouse and fencing in one hector (2.47 acres) of land. Each project would require numerous holes dug to place logs to frame the greenhouse and build the fence.

It was during this week that I experienced the joy of helping make life a little better for people who had faced so much: so much uncertainty, so much rejection, so much loss and pain. These people were facing life with heads held high and hearts grateful to their Lord Jesus Christ.

The teams that come to work at Project Tariro bring hope–but so do many people from the area. This includes the project manager, Violet Chikanya. Horticulturist David Mandividza makes sure that the project is self-sustaining through farming of crops on the clinic grounds. Many people work long and hard to keep the engine that runs the project in peak condition by coordinating the many teams that make their way to project from abroad.

During my time there the weather was wonderful, with gentle breezes and bright sunshine, heading into summer. We had left Nashville on a cold, gray autumn day. I felt it a wonderful thing to have a year in which I experienced two springs.

David Francis Lawrence works at Brookdale Senior Living Co-op in Mount Juliet, Tenn.

Meet Sarah, Diana, and Besta

September 17, 2014

Sarah Shenge, Diana Karafu, and Besta Mufuri describe how Project Tariro renewed their hope. Their stories are shared through interviews conducted in 2011 by Debbie Gara, Gregory Gross, and Carly Fiske, with the help of Shona-English translators Evelyn Mashonganyika and David Mandizvidza.

Sarah Shenge: “Room to be free”

“I am age 39 and infected with HIV. I have a husband, one girl, and two boys, ages 8 through 19. My oldest child is married.Sharon Shenge sm The reason I came to Project Tariro is because of what I saw from the first group of clients who came to this program for training. They are uplifting people. The Project gave them hope and assisted them, and gave them projects to do. Even though I live six to seven miles away from I do not mind walking the two hours to get here for classes.

“Socially, Project Tariro has enabled me to interact with others, people who live negatively and positively. I use to be afraid to leave the house because my neighbors were afraid of me. This program has given me knowledge of how to cope with stigma and how to use my hands to sustain my family and send them to school.

“Project Tariro has taught me horticultural skills and how to grow crops that I can sell to supermarkets in the city. They have taught me how to do beads and bags. They taught me to use my hands. Right now I can do my nursery properly. At the moment I have not grown crops for sale yet, but I am able to sell bags I have made.

“Project Tariro has also given me the room to be free. I can easily interact with my family and husband. I am looking forward to putting what I have learned into practice. I just wish to have a good life. I just wish to be somebody who can sustain myself. I also wish to buy a (sewing) machine to earn some money so if I or my family gets sick, we can go to the hospital.

“Generally my belief was that when you are HIV that was the end of the world. This has given me hope and being HIV positive is not the end of the world. I can easily share with my family my status and they can encourage me to be a better person and to be someone. I look forward to learning more skills and getting more information on how to sustain myself with the help of Project Tariro.”

Diana Karafu: “Staying alive for our children”

“I am age 47 and have six children. I was only 15 years old when I had my first baby. Now she is 32 years old. My youngest Diana Karafu smchildren are twin boys, 15 years old. My husband died of AIDS five years ago so I am raising my children alone. If I should die my children will become orphans, so I am trying to get them educated.

“Before I learned about Project Tariro I was someone just sitting at home doing nothing. I believed that my life had ended. But since Tariro I have been taught in so many areas, how to keep myself busy, generate income, use projects. My children look tome as a mother, they know I am working so they can chip in.

“I’ve learned in areas of sewing and horticulture but when I look at myself I can say I am mostly interested in sewing because I can do it as I am sitting. I look forward to doing projects for sewing and hope to buy my own machine. However, I do not have $90 to buy a sewing machine so I just sew by hand. With two kids in school I need to earn their tuition and book expenses.

“I pray I will find a way to stay healthy and to feed my family. I am so grateful to Project Tariro for teaching me about growing my food and preparing it. Also, I am grateful for all the support I find in being together with other women who are trying to stay alive for their children.”

Besta Mufuri: “It gave me hope”

“I am age 32 with a husband and three children: one girl and two boys ages five, eight, and eleven. I am a care-giver, as my Besta Mufuri sm crhusband has AIDS. When I heard about a new program called Project Tariro, it gave me hope that my husband can learn how to live with the disease. It is a two-hour walk from my home to the project, but I do not mind making this trip two or three times each week.

“I came to Project Tariro to be taught how to use my hands so I can sustain my family. I have learned beads, horticulture, and appliqué. At the moment I am using my horticulture skills to grow crops like onions and carrots to sustain myself at home. I am also learning how to protect myself from getting AIDS. Even though female contraceptives are not popular here, they do make it possible to prevent getting infected.

“I hope and pray that I can be able to get a machine (sewing) so I can make things and support my family.”

Rev. Debbie Gara is a United Methodist deacon who is minister of children and families at Laguna Niguel  (Calif.) Presbyterian Church. Rev. Gregory Gross is family ministries coordinator at Berry United Methodist Church and in-person counselor at AIDS Legal Council of Chicago. Carly Fiske is a writer in Garden Grove, Calif.

Project Tariro Completes Merger with Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center

June 29, 2012

As of June 29, 2012, Project Tariro has completed its merger with the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center (VCT) located in the Old Mutare Mission, Zimbabwe, adding new services for people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as orphans and vulnerable children. This new development comes with the support of Africa University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, The United Methodist Church of Zimbabwe, and Friends of Project Tariro, U.S.

Mr. Mutsa Mujaji (Project Tariro Board Chairperson) said,

“By unifying these programs at the Old Mutare Mission, we will be able to strengthen our ability to help those who struggle with the effects of HIV and AIDS in the Manicaland community.”

Project Tariro began in 2007 as an initiative of United Methodist deacons under the leadership of Rev. Paul Van Buren, a deacon from the East Ohio Conference. “I witnessed the stigma of HIV and AIDS while working at Africa University, and felt that the United Methodist Church could do something more to help those who suffer, overcome isolation and live better lives.”

Just as Project Tariro was getting off the ground in 2009, VCT lost much of its funding and began scaling back services. “It was apparent that the energy behind the start of Project Tariro could benefit the existing clientele of VCT, so the board voted to merge.” said Van Buren. Transitioning has taken a bit longer than expected, but a more robust program is imminent.

Project Tariro currently provides medical, emotional and spiritual support, nutritional guidance and gardening, and job skills training for income generation. The additional services that come with the merger include identification and assessment of children who can benefit from orphans and vulnerable children assistance, and more in-field testing and education. The added programs will require a greater level of support, but leaders feel confident that where need is coupled with faith, difficulties can be overcome.

To learn more about Project Tariro and find out how you can assist, contact Paul Van Buren at


Where Hope is Found

November 18, 2011

This is the story of Idah, currently a client at Project Tariro who walks five miles each way twice a week to come to Tariro for help and training.

Idah is married with three children. Her fourth child, Shepherd died at the age 10. Idah was once separated from her husband because he took another woman, after six years he came back and they were reunited. They were tested and found to be HIV positive. They accepted their status and are on antiretroviral drugs. Her children are 18, 14, and 1 year old. Her one-year-old son is also on the anti-retroviral drugs.

In a recent interview with Idah she stated:

“I learned about Tariro when I came to the mission hospital to get the drugs. The nurse told me that Project Tariro helps patients how to live with HIV. I received lessons on positive living and how to accept the condition.”

“At Tariro, David, the horticulturist, taught me about gardening, gave me seeds and herb plants. Now, I grow vegetables and herbs at home and can sustain myself.”

“My favorite project is sewing. I hope to acquire a sewing machine since I love sewing, so I can then sew at home and sell my items. I enjoy making children’s clothes.”

“I would like to thank the visitors who have come, especially the women who are teaching sewing. I have gained a lot and hope that Project Tariro continues. I hope sponsors continue to support the project. May God bless you.”

Interview taken by Debbie Gara and Carly Fiske,October 17, 2011