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Zanzibar AIDS Association & Support of Orphans


ZASO (Zanzibar AIDS Association & Support of Orphans) is an NGO that is carrying out several social programs in Zanzibar.

ZASO runs an outreach program, which is looking after 1200 orphans and vulnerable children in the rural southern and western regions of Zanzibar and in Zanzibar Town. Only some of them are orphans living in poverty; the majority are actually the children of the host families (typically relatives or friends of the parents who have died) where the orphans are staying. The reason why these non-orphan children are being supported as well is to reduce the stigmatisation of the orphans. 60 children are HIV positive.

The support is both morally as material (covering medicine, school fees, educational materials, school uniforms). 4 social workers are employed for this program and are counselling children and their caregivers.

To financially support this program, World Unite! started the Social Reality Tour Zanzibar in cooperation with ZASO in 2013. As a volunteer/intern you can also participate in the management and improvement of Social Reality Tour. Please see the corresponding text on our website.
Another program of ZASO is called "ZASO Hope". It is focusing on Peer Education and Educational theater/drama.   

For peer education, certain individuals aged 17-20 years are trained by ZASO in certain topics, including HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, forced marriage, stigma reduction of individuals affected by HIV, and children and youth rights. The peers have the task to communicate within their communities what they have learned to their age group. For this program, ZASO employs 3 youth workers to train peers and supervise the communication of the topics within the local communities/age groups.

The theater plays are short drama scenes and role plays dealing with the same topics as the peer education program. A troupe of 10 amateur actors is regularly touring the island to perform the plays in schools and youth centres.

ZASO runs 12 youth clubs, out of which 4 are in Zanzibar Town and 8 are in villages. The youth clubs are attended by children and youth aged around 9-18 years. Via peers, ZASO is providing education and campaigning work , including the topics of health (HIV/Aids and Malaria), English language (particularly improving speaking skills), leadership/management, IT and gender equality.

ZASO Hope is financed by Hope HIV South Africa.  

For the outreach program ZASO accepts volunteers and interns from the subject area of social work who have counselling skills, who can plan and implement activities, such as the distribution of material donations, and who can assist in strategic planning and development of policies.

For the youth programs, volunteers and interns are accepted who have skills in youth work and education. This includes activities such as:
* Providing English classes to children and youth in the youth clubs
* Children's Rights
* Training of youth to become "Social Reality Tour" guides
* Communication tasks (writing reports about ZASO activities and preparing newsletters; updating the website and ZASO Facebook Page...)
* Setting up a library for ZASO English language students
* Assisting with events such as theater presentations and monitoring visits of Hope HIV
* Fundraising

Some of the youth clubs can be reached by foot from the ZASO office, whereas those located in villages need to be reached by public transport (Daladala; costs around 0.50-0.75 €/0.7-1 USD; transportation costs need to be covered by volunteers/interns)


ZANGOC (Zanzibar NGO Cluster for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control) is an umbrella NGO, which currently has 45 NGOs as members in Zanzibar; one of them is ZASO. The topics of ZANGOC and the member NGOS include HIV, children's rights, education and youth development, healthcare (HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis), and gender equality. There are work groups with members of various NGOs about certain topics, such as the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team (GET).

However, Zangoc not only is an umbrella of various NGOs, but also runs its own activities. One of them is the "Peer Educator Club". 40 peers aged 15-25 years, who are members of the ZANGOC member NGOs, meet three times per week for 2 hours to exchange experiences about the topics mentioned before. At the club, peers also give English language and IT classes to others.

Volunteers/interns should be able to organize workshops on their own; within the range of ZANGOC’s topics, you can define your focus. You can also choose other topics which are related to Youth Development; this can be discussed with ZANGOC.

It is also possible and common to combine a placement with ZASO and ZANGOC. You can for instance give the same workshops at the ZANGOC Peer Educator Club and at the ZASO youth clubs.

In Zanzibar, 0.6% of the total population, 16.0% of the IDUs (Injection Drug Users), 12.3% of the MSM (Men having sex with men) and 10.8% of female sex workers are HIV positive (Source: ZANGOC, 2012).

Please see below an articlee about ZASO from the ZANGOC Newsletter 2012.

Info box:

Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania

Duration: Minimum 1 month

Special qualification required: Related studies or experiences 

Costs: free of charge (trouble-free package for € 500 is optional)

Accommodation: Not included

Meals: Not included

Included: Placement in the project; if you opt for the trouble-free package the whole range of services which is part of the trouble-free package is included

Not included: Travel, health insurance, visa, work permit

Book this placement now!

ZASO Advocates for the Rights of OVCs in Zanzibar

There are at least 500 orphans registered with NGOs in Zanzibar, and likely more who remain unregistered. These young people, many of whom have been through the psychological trauma of losing one or more parents to AIDS, experience low levels of health outcomes, low rates of educational attainment, and face more obstacles to long-term success in life than the average youth in Zanzibar. In addition to the educational and economic challenges orphans face, they are also one of the most stigmatized groups in the country. The Zanzibar Association for Support of Orphans (ZASO) is one group that is trying to do something about this.

Following research carried out in Zanzibar between 2008 and 2009, it was found that there existed massive violations of children’s rights in Zanzibar, particularly among orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). The severity of the problems varied by region and between urban and rural settings, but among the issues were forced marriages, early marriage of young women, rape (of both girls and boys), and high rates of truancy and school drop-out. ZASO recognized these issues and sought to address them. In 2009 the NGO, based in Mwanakwerekwe, began an advocacy and outreach program with a specific focus on orphans' rights. Through this program, ZASO supports children’s clubs at local schools and within communities that empower OVCs by educating them about their rights.

“We want children to be able to say, ‘as an OVC or as a child I have this right from government or within my family—the right to life, to protection, to participation’”, says Mr. Juma Chuma Juma, a Program Officer with ZASO. “It is important for OVCs to know their rights…for their development. If you have no education, development can not happen in Zanzibar. We want to invest in children. If you educate a child today, they will be productive tomorrow and contribute to national development.”

ZASO was established in 1996 following the recognition that the number of AIDS orphans in Zanzibar was growing, and that few organizations existed to foster the development of these youth. In addition to the children’s rights program, ZASO has also distributed amongst local orphans basic necessities such as clothes, food and health care provisions.

The overarching vision of ZASO is a Zanzibar in which orphans are no longer stigmatized against, and their mission is to contribute to the well-being of orphans and vulnerable children in Zanzibar and to educate the community about the needs of orphans so that they may live safely and harmoniously within the greater community.

Since ZASO launched their children’s rights campaign in 2009, change has taken place in Zanzibar. Youth report a reduction in such problems as forced marriage and rape (though these are admittedly difficult to accurately measure), and the most recent government statistics reveal a decrease in school drop-out rates and truancy among Zanzibar’s OVC population.

But Mr. Juma says that more needs to be done. “There is still a big problem in Zanzibar with child rights, including rape, child labour, lack of education, and forced and early marriage. We want to have a community free from child rights violations.”