The HIV/AIDS Crisis in Zimbabwe: A Lesson Plan

The book Waste Not Your Tears, by Vivienne Ndlovu does an incredible job of displaying the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe, which is why it would be the perfect teaching tool in the classroom. The novel portrays a “Lady’s Man,” Roderick, who contracts the disease then passes it on to a young lady who he claims to love, Loveness. I will present a lesson plan for this novel coupled with an informational article about the crisis. This lesson is best fitted for an 8th through 12th grade classroom.


The article I would suggest using alongside this book is called “Progress in Zimbabwe’s HIV/AIDS Battle,” by Michael Fleshman. The article discusses how HIV rates have fallen over the last few years in Zimbabwe, as well as the strategies being used to combat the disease. Some of these strategies include programs to educate about the disease, and improving the status of women.


As far as the lesson plan goes, I would begin by having students take two column notes while reading both pieces. Two column notes include an exact quote with a page number from the book in one column, and the readers thoughts, interpretations, connections or analysis directly next to it in the second column. Once readers have read both, they should come to class ready to participate in discussion. Since readers already have notable passages marked the discussion will go much more smoothly, with exacts points in the novel to reference rather than vague ideas.


Based on the article, here are some discussion questions I would suggest the teacher ask the class:


1) What strategies to combat HIV/AIDS from the article do you see being used in Waste Not Your Tears?

This question will force readers to think about this piece of fiction as an extension of the real world rather than only fiction, as many of the HIV prevention strategies mentioned in the article are mirrored in the novel.

2) The article suggests “improvements in the status of women” (Fleshman), as a possible cause for lower HIV rates. How would these improvements have benefited Loveness in the novel? Would she still have gotten sick?

This question will bring forth the culture that Loveness was afflicted by, and draw attention to why this improved status for women was so necessary in the HIV battle.

3) The article also sites “education and prevention” (Fleshman), as a reason for falling HIV/AIDS rates. While we see a lot of this pushed later in the text, would Roderick have still contracted this disease if he had been educated on it before he had it?

While the answer to this question seems like it would obviously be yes, a look at Roderick’s denial of having the disease as well as reluctance to change his lifestyle after infected might suggest otherwise. The hope of this question is to get students to analyze the character of Roderick in order to guess how he might act.


My hope in pairing this article with this novel is to make the unit more about the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe, rather than simply a book or article alone. While the article talks about numbers and an overview of strategies, the novel puts it in a more personal perspective. While the novel is fiction, the article is nonfiction, allowing students to see how the novel is rooted in the real world and how the real world statistics often play out in people’s lives.


Works Cited


Ndlovu, Vivienne. Waste Not Your Tears. Weaver Press, 2018.

Fleshman, Michael. “Progress in Zimbabwe’s HIV/AIDS battle.” Africa Renewal Online, ND,

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