Oct 15, 2021
Paula Winland Van Zyl
Home for Aids Orphans Zambia

Short Bio for Paula (Winland) Van Zyl

Born Glendale Ca. 1952


I moved to Africa in 2003, to volunteer with Primates in South Africa then traveled up to Zambia where I met my late husband Dan Van Zyl who was at the time working for the UN, when his contract ended in 2004, we went back to South Africa and worked with the baboons at the sanctuary till 2005, when we started the volunteer organization. It was decided we would drive international volunteers from Phalabora South Africa to Mwandi Zambia, the childhood home of Dan. The volunteering program worked well and grew. We worked in and around the mission, helping where needed.


In 2007, United Church of Zambia took us on as Mission Partners and obtained work permits for us, the Chief granted us land to live on, then the volunteers flew into Livingstone Zambia, we changed our activities and started working in the village building traditional homes for the elderly care givers who were taking care of their families Aids Orphans, we still do this and have completed 192 homes since 2007. This part of Zambia is rich in customs and traditions’ and do not believe in orphanages  so when parents pass away, almost always due to AIDS, the children who are left go to the nearest living relative who are always very poor and cannot build a home for the larger family. We started a high school sponsorship program for a couple of years then went on to sponsor college students with the help of international donors including Rotarians, this program is ongoing, and has been a great success. 


In 2015 we split from the United Church of Zambia and started a nonprofit non government organization called Home for Aids Orphans. In 2016 we started building a community school.  With many donors, some former volunteers, family members and then Rotary clubs we have built it up. We opened in January 2019. We now have over 280 students from preschool through 3rd grade. We are now building the fourth-grade class room that will open January 2022. We are now ready to start the next phase, upper primary grades 5th – 7th.


In October 2020, my daughter and I registered a 501 c-3 American corporation, Compass Zambia, to help support Home For Aids Orphans. Our survival and growth all these years has been fueled by volunteers coming to work on the projects. With covid this went away leaving us vulnerable, the new corporation has given us a much-needed boost and allowed us to continue working on the school, as well as to keep our staff employed.


My husband passed away here in Mwandi on Feb 11, 2019 after a long illness, my business partner Matt Burditt who has been with us since 2007 and I run the nonprofit. Volunteers were coming from all over the world to work on the projects, we also received a number of schools coming out to us, and we look forward to welcoming them back soon.


I joined the Rotary Club of Livingstone in 2009 served as Secretary for 2 years 2011-2013 President 2013-2014 International Projects chair 2014 till present. 


Matt and I live in Mwandi most of the year. I return to the US every year to raise funds and awareness as well as to visit my family.