Home for AIDS Orphans was initially established as the United Church of Zambia Mission Partners Mwandi by Dan and Paula Van Zyl. In 2014 we became a registered Not for Profit Organization and began operating as Home for AIDS Orphans.
Dan grew up in Mwandi, where his father was a trader and he became very involved with refugee projects through the UN during the various uprisings in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Paula was born and raised in California, but grew to love Africa while participating in various animal conservation projects. They met while Paula was in Africa on an animal conservation project and Dan was working for the UN. They both decided to return to the village of Dan's roots, Mwandi, and open the mission to help the poverty stricken people in the village. They are passionate about their work and have already helped tremendously in many people's lives.
Paula has a constant battle on her hands raising funds to keep the mission and its projects going. She is a valued member of The United Church of Zambia and is the only white woman ever to be 'bloused' by the church, making her an Anamoyo, which in itself is a huge achievement.
Dan and Paula got married in a traditional Lozi ceremony in 2006. The Reverend Banda officiated and the reception was held on the Simba lawn and was attended by Chief Inyambo Yeta. Sadly on February 11th, 2019, Dan passed away and was buried in Mwandi.
Home For Aids Orphans works directly with the local people and listens to what they want and what they need not what someone wants to give them. They believe in helping them to help themselves. Volunteers coming to Mwandi will find this a refreshing approach as our volunteers who wish to donate to either the family they are building for, our old folk’s home or to the Hospital, donate the good personally and not to Home For Aids Orphans. We will help with identifying the needs of the intended recipient in order to assure the help is really needed but the volunteers are the ones who donate directly.
Volunteers come from all over the world ranging in age from 7 to 75 years old and for the most part are accommodated in en-suite rooms with beds, pillows, bottom fitted sheets, full electric power, fans, ,mosquito nets, flushing toilets and hot and cold showers, as of October 2016 there is a dorm room that sleeps 10 and a smaller dorm with 4 beds a 6 bed dorm is being built end of 2016 in addition there are also large canvas safari tents with beds, mattresses and fitted bottom sheets. There is also a large volunteer kitchen as well as outside showers that have been completely refurbished with hot and cold water.
Paula lives on the property along with project supervisor Matt and one of the two cooks they also employ a night watchman in case any of the volunteers can’t sleep or need some kind of assistance in the night. Mwandi is a very safe secure village full of culture and rich in tradition, it is not a tourist destination but a real African village the people are friendly and appreciate all that is done to help them. They also employ two cooks, five male staff members who help with the building and the project supervisor Matt Burditt a former volunteer who came back to stay in 2007 he is from the UK. You are never alone in Mwandi!