Zimkids Orphan Trust

Zimkids Orphan Trust is a neighborhood-based safe haven for orphaned children in impossible circumstances. We are committed to ensuring that the children and their caregivers have access to food and medical care, as well as creative, recreational, vocational and educational opportunities and training in the tools essential for self-reliance so they can grow into productive, healthy adults who are literate, energized, assertive and ready to take initiative for themselves, their families and their community.
Aug 11, 2014

Feeding hearts, minds and stomachs - August 2014

Gathering a bumper crop in our greenhouse
Gathering a bumper crop in our greenhouse

There are times when we feel that Zimkids has taken on a life of its own as the young people we’ve trained for so many years take on increasing responsibility and help us expand our wings. It’s an exhilarating reality since we’re committed not only to feeding the orphans of Pumula but to training them to lead.

 Several years ago, a grant from the U.S. embassy allowed us to install a greenhouse with drip irrigation. It took a while to develop a workable system since we never managed to hit water when we tried to drill a well. But now, our young people have honed their modern agricultural skills. Despite a total absence of rain since April, we are awash in tomatoes, spinach, kale and onions– so the orphans have an abundance of fresh produce.

 Our pre-school – run by “alumae” - is humming with energy and excitement. The children are mastering the alphabet, learning their first words in English, playing on our computers, eating nutritious meals – and even developing their skills in sharing by serving lunch to their classmates. Several weeks ago – in the midst of a serious cold snap – they were thrilled at the arrival of stacks of blankets made by a group of generous grandmothers from Texas led by Dee Duhe, shoes from the Buckner Foundation and underwear – a first for many of them – from several donors. They even received new reading material thanks to Adopt-a-Book!

 The older children are also moving along to new challenges. Now that our new sewing center is up and running, all the children are learning about needles and thread – and how to take care of and mend their often tattered clothing. The latest shipment we received included ELEVEN sewing machines, thanks to the miraculous Dee Duhe of Plano, Texas. So, not only are our young people now taking care of their own clothing, they’re mastering the basics of cutting and stitching as part of our vocational training program. Under the guidance of two girls who are long-time Zimkids, they are helping to make school uniforms that we will begin selling in November, when parents prepare for the new school year.

 Across the compound, other young people are building chairs as part of our carpentry vocational training program, even as their friends are welding shoe racks and figuring out the basics of design. We’ve already had our first orders for their creations – and are confident that more will follow!

 Some days, we look at the activity – planned and run by orphans who joined Zimkids seven or eight years ago – and marvel at their skills in organization and their ability to comfort so many young children who live in almost impossible situations at home. Life is incredibly difficult outside our walls: Water and electricity continue to be scarce, the economy has stalled, so unemployment is stagnating at about 90 percent; and the grandparents or other relatives who care for our orphans are staggering under the burden, all too often becoming indifferent if not abusive.

 But inside our gates, the Zimkids are smiling. If they are sick, or injured, or upset, they know that they’ll be cared for, whether by our counselor, our doctor, or one of their adopted older brothers and sisters. They never go hungry. And they are learning the skills, both personal and vocational, to build their own futures. What more could we want?

 There is one more thing: We’d love you and the American children you know to meet them via Skype. Now that our Internet is working most of the. We’re anxious to set up more conversations between Zimkids and American schools, kids’ clubs or church groups. Our Zimbabwean young people tend to be a bit shy, but we’ve been working to increase their comfortable level, both with the technology and with distant strangers. So if you know a group that might be interested in connecting contact us at dennis@zimkids.com. 

Little ones take turns serving lunch
Little ones take turns serving lunch
The children are thrilled with their new blankets
The children are thrilled with their new blankets
Lindiwe & Charity run intro to sewing for ZImkids
Lindiwe & Charity run intro to sewing for ZImkids
Zimkids reaches out to those in need
Zimkids reaches out to those in need
Girls made a shoe rack for ZImkids and a client
Girls made a shoe rack for ZImkids and a client

Links:

Jul 10, 2014

Zimkids is on fire! What an amazing three months!

Our new Sewing center with our builders!!!
Our new Sewing center with our builders!!!

Zimkids has been mighty busy since our last update in April.  You can check out the latest news from us on our facebook page. Just search Zimkids Orphan Trust. There you will see a short video of the construction of our latest effort, a Sewing Training Center.

Thanks to you not only were we able to train 25 new kids in all areas of construction. In the new pink building – constructed by our seniors under the supervision of two of the older boys, Foster DIngani and Collen Makurumidze, we trained during the building of our complex.  Now boys and girls are making patterns, cutting cloth and sewing school uniforms, pillows and slipcovers, all trained and supervised by two of our Seniors, Lindiwe and Charity. This project was born out of our realization that since no child is permitted to attend school without a uniform, there’s a near-limitless market for such items, which are absurdly expensive in town. Opening a uniform business, then, allowed us to meet two goals: moving us along our path to self-sustainability and providing young people with skills they can eventually use to open their own enterprises. We have to thank our Texas Grandmother, Dee Duhe, who collects and sends us all of our sewing machines. Also thanks to the Shea Family Foundation and the Independent Pilots Association for grants that funded the building of the center.

Ngqabutho and Zibusiso added a a dollup of creativity when they constructed a big zipper sculpture for the front of the new building and also welding a security door with the same zipper motif.  As a result, when visitors came one day they told others about the center and we got our first order for a sculpture for a new peace center. Denver, Ncosi and Brighten created the piece.

Meanwhile, Hlonaphile and Engeline just received their first order – for a set of shoe racks – and are busy designing something “out of the ordinary,” what we hope will become Zimkids’ hallmark. And serious solicitation of more orders has finally begun!

Although this is dry season and no rain will fall before November, our greenhouse – maintained by our older children – is bursting with tomatoes and spinach, collards, onions and garlic. Our hungry workers – and our littlest children – have to eat, after all, and we are producing an increasing amount of our own food.

In the Resource room, our 35 youngest children are finishing up their afternoon nap after a full day of lessons in the ABCs, computer games, sports, and art. Run by Zimkids alumnae sent to special classes for government certification, the pre-school will soon open its doors to paying parents while continuing to charge nothing to orphans. We never expected to turn it into a training and income-generating project; we were just trying to provide an educational and social opportunity for children ages 3-6. But the Grade 1 teachers in the area were so enthusiastic about our little ones that local parents lined up at our gate. We had another terrific opportunity to meet our dual goals, so we jumped at the chance to expand our operation.

In the midst of all the activity, the older young people are learning about costing and marketing, about recordkeeping, careful pricing of goods, and sales. After stabilizing a bit once the government gave up on the local currency, the economy has begun sliding back in the wrong direction. So far this year, Zimbabwe’s Registrar of Companies has struck more than 176 companies off the register and they expect to deregister another 634 companies over the coming months. More than 70 percent of the country’s exporting companies have shut down. Every day, we hear about another business that has filed for bankruptcy, another shop that simply can’t make it. Our young people, then, need not only practical skills but also training in running small businesses, which are their only realistic hope for independence.

That’s what they’re getting at Zimkids, and every month I feel more confident that our model is working: Our “alumni” are teaching the younger children, who are becoming more confident, more organized, more skilled – and more on target for bright futures.

Zibusiso and Ngqabutho with their Zipper Sculpture
Zibusiso and Ngqabutho with their Zipper Sculpture
Brighten, Denver and Ncosi with Peace sculpture
Brighten, Denver and Ncosi with Peace sculpture
The Girls with their first welding order!
The Girls with their first welding order!
What a harvest from our greenhouse!
What a harvest from our greenhouse!
Heads up for little ones computer class!
Heads up for little ones computer class!

Links:

Jul 7, 2014

Girl Power! July 2014 Zimkids Update

Charity working on a pillow cover for a client
Charity working on a pillow cover for a client

THank you for all you have done to make Zimkids a loving, nurturing home for our orphans! For the latest ongoing news check out Zimkids facebook page, search ZImkids Orphan Trust.

Two weeks ago, Lindiwe Mabhena and Charity Museba, who run Zimkids’ new sewing center, learned their first serious business lesson, the hard way: Despite their training in costing, the girls were so anxious to please their first customer that they undercharged for a set of six quilted pillows. The result: $8 profit for five days of labor. NEVER AGAIN, they declared, as they began finding their feet in the new world of financial realities.

 

The sewing center is teaching our girls dozens of new lessons – and not just about money. As they joined the boys in building the new facility, they mastered the basics of mixing mortar and laying brick. Now they’ve gone on to learn about pattern making and cutting cloth, about maintaining sewing machines, marketing, costing, and planning, skills that will help them build independent futures.

 

This new initiative was born out of our realization that since no child is permitted to attend school without a uniform, there’s a near-limitless market for such items, which are absurdly expensive in town. Opening a uniform business, then, allowed us to meet two goals: moving us along our path to self-sustainability and providing young people with skills they can eventually use to open their own enterprises.

 

The demand for uniforms begins in earnest in December, just before the new school year begins in January. So Lindiwe and Charity have been busy training younger girls and boys in sewing and cutting to stockpile for the new year – even as they solicit and accept orders for pillows, aprons, bed covers, and non-school clothes.

They began with three sewing machines and an overlock– and another nine have just arrived in a shipment from the States, so they’re ready to ramp up production. We have to thank our Texas Grandmother, Dee Duhe from Texas who collects and sends us all of our sewing machines. Also thanks to the Shea Family Foundation and the Independent Pilots Association for grants that funded the building of the center.

 

Meanwhile, Hlonaphile Ndlovu, Thamani Nyathi and Engeline Hlazo are working on the other side of our complex, the dirty side. Trained in welding last year, they’ve just received their first order – for a set of artsy shoe racks – and are busy designing something “out of the ordinary,” what we hope will become Zimkids’ hallmark.

 

Several other girls are training at our pre-school, which will soon open its doors to paying parents while continuing to charge nothing to orphans. When we began our pre-school program, we never expected to turn it into a training and income-generating project; we were just trying to provide an educational and social opportunity for children ages 3-6. But the Grade 1 teachers in the area were so enthusiastic about our little ones – who could read and write a bit, speak some English and work on computers – that local parents lined up at our gate. We had another terrific opportunity to meet our dual goals, so we jumped at the chance and sent Samantha Jumira and Pauline Mhendo to special classes that would certify them to run a licensed pre-school.

 

Inside our gates, then, things are flowing beautifully, with our older girls leading and training the younger ones. Outside…that’s another matter. We lost Cynthia Britz on July 5th to her lifelong battle with illness. She had just finished TB treatment. Weak and exhausted she simply gave up. One of our HIV-positive girls are not doing well, fighting meningitis at the moment. And too many of the extended families with whom they live – not to mention the men in the neighborhood - continue to treat them abusively.

 

Thanks to your generosity, they all have access to our wonderful private doctor, who has managed to keep the majority of Zimkids relatively healthy. Our staff continues to work with families to catch problems that we can help with. And we’ve recently received an offer from a local ta kwon do expert to work with our girls so that they will become able to defend themselves.

 

Most importantly, we’re providing them with the ability to build independent futures, which has become all the more critical since the economy, after stabilizing a bit after dollarization, has begun sliding back in the wrong direction.

So far this year, Zimbabwe’s Registrar of Companies has struck more than 176 companies off the register and they expect to deregister another 634 companies over the coming months. More than 70 percent of the country’s exporting companies have shut down. Every day, we hear about another business that has filed for bankruptcy, another shop that simply can’t make it. But our girls – with practical skills, business training, experience, and confidence – are defying the odds. 

Lindiwe with her apron and hat made for a client
Lindiwe with her apron and hat made for a client
Samantha and Sithabisiwe pre-school storytelling
Samantha and Sithabisiwe pre-school storytelling
Our girl crew putting together the latest order
Our girl crew putting together the latest order
Our girls with the finished shoe rack
Our girls with the finished shoe rack
Cynthia lost her long battle with illness July 5.
Cynthia lost her long battle with illness July 5.

Links:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
  • $20
  • $40
  • $80
  • $100
  • $125
  • $10
    each month
  • $20
    each month
  • $40
    each month
  • $80
    each month
  • $100
    each month
  • $125
    each month
  • $
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?