In Conversation with: Kundiso Foundation

Kundiso foundation logo

What is Kundiso Foundation? 

Kundiso is a foundation that advocates for mental health in Zimbabwe. Our mission is to provide a safe space where people can access helpful/useful information and can be directed to the help/support their need. The foundation aims to provide readily available information on mental illnesses. 

What prompted you to create the foundation and what is the significance of the name? 

Witnessing first-hand the challenges that people who suffer from mental illnesses in our community face is the driving force behind this foundation. In addition, the lack of education around this topic because mental health is not something that is spoken about freely due to the stigma. You find that majority of Zimbabweans are ill-informed. We wanted to get people talking more about mental health and learning all they can so that we can all make a difference in our community. 

Kundiso = Strength to overcome. 

The name was inspired by the living legend musician, Leonard Zhakata. He has a song called ‘Kundiso’ and in this song, he is asking for God to help him overcome the challenges that he is going through. Mental health in Zimbabwe is better than it was 10 years ago, but we still have a long way to go. Therefore, as we join the mental illness fight and advocate for the change, we are going to need strength to overcome because it will be a challenging journey. 

Sharon Kunaka - co founder of kundiso
Sharon Kunaka

Who is part of the foundation and what are their roles? 

The foundation started this year and it currently has two members Andrea Zhou and Sharon Kunaka, who are the co-founders of Kundiso. Our goal is to expand in the future and grow the team.

Who are your favourite mental health advocates? 

Sharon: The list is endless but at the top of my head Lady Gaga, Andrea Zhou, Dr. Sindi Van Zyl, Yvette Ratishikhopa and Makomborero Manjome. These are a few of the people that I actively follow at the moment. 

Andrea: There’s a lot of overlapping with Shay’s list, but to add a few more: Rodney Lavoie Jr, Sharon Kunaka, and Simone Biles.

What are some of the mental health challenges that people in Zimbabwe are facing that you have observed? 

Mental health is still not taken seriously it is considered to be a “white people’s illness”. Therefore, when one does suffer from it they’re stuck because no one is willing to help them and they’re told to get over it “kuzviitisa”. Stigma plays a big role in the challenges that are faced within our community. You find that a lot of people are suffering in silence because they don’t want to be the talk of the town.  

In addition, the rippling downfall of the economy causes a lot of people to deal with depression and anxiety alone. Other challenges include safe spaces for men. 

What are the current mental health institutions available for Zimbabweans to access?

Friendship Bench: offers a brief (FREE) psychological intervention addressing kufungisisa (Depression) in primary care clinics in Zimbabwe. The cognitive behaviour therapy-based intervention, a problem-solving approach, is carried out by trained Lay Health Workers.

Nationally: 

Four referral centres: Ingutsheni Central Hospital, Harare Psychiatric Unit, Parirenyatwa Hospital Annexe, and Ngomahuru Hospital.

Provincial Units and Wards: 

Mutoko and Marondera Mental Health units, Gweru Psychiatric Ward, Chinhoyi Psychiatric Unit, Bindura Psychiatric Ward. Sakubva Psychiatric Ward is currently offering outpatient services.

Forensic Care:

There are two Special Institutions for the mentally ill offenders serviced by two Special Boards, these are Chikurubi in Harare and Mlondolozi in Bulawayo.

Community Home-Based Rehabilitation Centres and Homes including Resettlements:

  • Belleview Halfway Home and Emakhandeni Day Care Centre in Bulawayo
  • Ngomahuru Resettlement Farm, Rural and Urban Halfway Homes in Masvingo
  • Rukariro Rehabilitation Centre – Mutare
  • Queen of Peace Halfway Home – Gweru
  • Chinhoyi Halfway Home – Chinhoyi
  • Tariro Centre – Harare, Beatrice Resettlement Farm – Beatrice
  • Southerton Halfway Home – Harare
  • Tirivanhu Centre – Ruwa 

In addition, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) offer mental health services. The main one is the Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH), which represents the interests of people with mental illness.

AndreaZhou - co founder of kundiso
Andrea Zhou

What are the obstacles to accessing mental health services in Zimbabwe?

One of the main observations is that people are not aware of the services available and where they can get help. 

What solutions are you offering and how can people access that? 

We want to serve as the first point of contact where people can access helpful information on mental health and where they can get help. In the following months, we will have a website, which will have information such as where to get help, symptoms of mental illnesses, contact us page where you can reach out to us if you need help. 

What suggestions do you have for day to day self-care?

  • Develop a healthy sleep routine
  • Try to meditate
  • Stay clear of your triggers (identifying your triggers)
  • Exercise or do something you love 
  • Journal
  • Validate your feelings

What advice do you have for anyone who is struggling and doesn’t know whom to ask or where to go? 

It’s okay not to be okay! We are humans, not robots and if we can suffer from physical illnesses then we definitely can suffer from mental illnesses. When you are ready our platforms have an open-door policy. Reach out to us and we will point you towards the direction that you need. We are all in this together.

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Facebook: Kundiso Foundation

Instagram: @Kundiso_Foundation

Twitter: @KundisoF

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