Sheena Flowers and Plants
Product focus: Flowers and plants
Location: Harare, Zimbabwe
Type: Hired labour – 200 workers
Fairtrade certified since: 2009
Contact: Tinashe Mungandani –

With around one in ten of the population living with HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwe is experiencing one of the harshest AIDS epidemics in the world. Statistics from the local clinic show that 10% of workers at Sheena Flowers and Plants are HIV positive. To help control the disease, the farm has set up different projects to educate its workers and help the ones affected by AIDS.

One of Sheena’s most effective sensitising projects was a play on HIV/AIDS set up by the farm’s workers. The actors were all members of the Health and Safety Committee. Title of the improvised play was ‘Prevention of HIV and AIDS in our Community’. The actors tried to incorporate humour to gain the attention of the audience while addressing issues like AIDS prevention, HIV testing, living with AIDS etc. Over 150 workers, or three quarters of Sheena’s employees, attended the production. Its success can be attributed to different aspects:

-        Fun: although the topic was serious, by opting for entertainment, they were able to raise the interest of workers who would otherwise have been hesitant to learn more about HIV/AIDS
-        Culture: The stigma around HIV/AIDS – and open discussions about sex in general – makes it difficult for people in Zimbabwe to talk about the subject. Drama makes it easier for people to be educated on the topic.
-        Language: the play was put on stage in the local language, which again reached a bigger group of workers as some are illiterate.
-        Timing: The play was scheduled during office hours, so people didn’t have to give up any free time.

Sheena Flowers and Plants also implements other projects to raise awareness among its workers. Posters are hung up to sensitize workers on the dangers of unsafe sex and the use of condoms and once a month a local NGO (New Start Centre) visits the flower farm to train a group of workers on testing possibilities, how to live with HIV/AIDS etc. Every time a different group of workers is invited to attend. Incentives, including soap or basic commodities, are given to assure interest.

In addition, workers can visit the local clinic for free testing and counselling, although doctors are not allowed to prescribe drugs. Management also tries to help sick people (AIDS or other diseases) by providing transport to the hospital and ensuring lighter duties are assigned to weaker people.

No costs were involved setting up the play and also the work with the local NGO is free. The Fairtrade Premium was used to pay for a course on HIV and AIDS counselling attended by Sheena’s qualified nurse in the clinic. The cost of the training in the local clinic was around 500 USD.

Since the start of the awareness campaign, clinic statistics show that the number of people affected by the virus has gone down from 30 to 20 people. As a next step, Sheena Flowers has started the process of registering its clinic, which will take up three to four months. Once registered, doctors at the clinic will be able to prescribe drugs. More plays are planned to further sensitise the flower workers.