The name Mashambanzou is a combination of two Shona words "kushamba" meaning to wash and "nzou" which is and elephant' ,put together the words would mean dawn of a new day. The idiom refers to the early hours of the morning when the elephants go down to the river to wash and refresh themselves which marks the new dawn of a new day. The word Mashambanzou was chosen to offer inspiration to those on the threshold of a new life - People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

Through the Vision of Sr. Noreen and the co-operation of a group of dedicated Volunteers, Mashambanzou was founded in 1989, in Harare. Sr. Noreen and her co-workers were touched by the plight of people living with HIV, subjected as they were, to stigmatization, rejection and discrimination. Their aim was to offer com-fort and reassurance to people living with the HIV and their family members, thereby enhancing the quality of their lives and, when the time would come, enable them to die with dignity and the knowledge that they were loved. From this noble and humble vision grew the multifaceted organization, Mashambanzou, as we know it to-day