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.
Mar 24, 2015

Encouraging teenage rebellion!

Lynn learns to saw the countertop underlayment
Lynn learns to saw the countertop underlayment

A recent story in a Zimbabwean newspaper declared that the national formal economy is collapsing. In response, the country’s leading economist disagreed, arguing that it could be more aptly described as just in intensive care. Government owes $10 billion, long overdue, to foreign lenders. Most projections suggest that the economy will grow 1.2 percent this year, hardly enough to create jobs for the 80+ percent of the adult population already unemployed, not to mention the 300,000 school leavers who look for a foot in the economy annually. With businesses closing and government unable to hire anyone since it can no longer pay its salary bill, even university graduates have resorted to selling used clothes at the markets.

 

The situation is particularly precarious for our under-educated girls who have little hope. They become the easy prey of older men who offer them money or gifts – only to wind up pregnant and abandoned.

 

Providing our girls with meaningful skills – personal and vocational – to avoid this trap is one of our most constant struggles. Increasingly, we are turning to skills usually considered male in Zimbabwe since they provide the greatest flexibility for small business. Teenage girls are perfectly comfortable serving their male relatives, as expected by their elders. The pressure to conform is enormous. So it takes some doing to stimulate their interest, but we’re getting there. Teenage rebellion is not at all the cultural norm.

 

One group of our girls just finished all the elements (poles and hoops) of a basketball court that we just installed at the rural school the children in our outreach program attend. Marvelous, a school leaver, ASKED to be sent to a course in electrical wiring, and she’s already halfway through. And when we revamped our kitchen, Lynn requested instruction in tiling, mortoring and the sawing the plywood underlayment of our countertops.

 

The brightest light on the horizon is the negotiations we’re in with a local motorcycle manufacturing start-up company that sought us out as partners because of our vocational training program in welding and a funder interested in businesses involved in such partnerships. If all goes well, our girls will weld and build component parts for supply to the plant and, over time, be hired at the plant itself. FINGERS CROSSED!!!

 

And we’re working hard to ensure that our littlest boys and girls are nudged beyond the gender roles to which they are trained and home and in the community. Even at tender ages, too many of the boys think that their sisters need to wash their dishes. But not at Zimkids! In between lunch and nap time they line up for computer training beginning at age 3!

 

We just wanted to end with a shout out to the wonderful ZSA ZSA Team from the Rotary Club in Knoxville, which recently visited the Center. In collaboration with the Books for Africa Foundation, they’d sent us dozens of boxes of books, and they arrived just in time to see our staff catalogue and shelve that contribution. Read about their visit at http://www.zsazsagroup.com/2015/02/ 

Our girls perfect their welding skills
Our girls perfect their welding skills
Preschoolers learn to take care of dirty dishes
Preschoolers learn to take care of dirty dishes
Nicole is excited to start her computer class.
Nicole is excited to start her computer class.
Samantha & others tour motorcycle factory
Samantha & others tour motorcycle factory

Links:

Mar 24, 2015

Zimkids, creative welding and motorcycle making!

Foster & Collen instruct in solar mechanisms
Foster & Collen instruct in solar mechanisms

When we began our vocational training programs, we hoped that by now the Zimbabwean economy would have begun to recover – and that our young people would be finding jobs. But unemployment continues to top 80 percent, by the most conservative estimate, and businesses continue to close. With 300,000 young people leaving school each year, the only hope for the future is serious economic expansion. But the latest estimate is that the economy will grow only 1.2 percent in 2015.

 

We’re forging ahead, then, especially on training that will allow our young people to start their own small businesses in the community, as Collen and Foster, our solar pioneers, are doing with solar installations – when they’re not working or conducting training sessions for our younger kids.

 

Nqgabutho is nearly finished a second-level course in electricity, and Shaun, Marvelous and Zibusiso are a year behind him.  A new crop of young people has just learned to install floor and wall tile, make cabinet door handles from flat bar and construct countertops and cabinets as part of the revamping of our kitchen. And Nqgabutho and Zibusiso have designed and built circular book shelving that a creative designer would dream about.

 

Several Zimkids are taking construction to a higher level with their own creativity and designs. Shaun designed and welded a set of amazing, unusual chairs. Peter also welded a giant flying bird, and Nkosi was right behind him with a funny figure topped by a huge head and elaborate shoes. With some tourists still visiting the city and local hotels and safari camps always anxious for something unique, we’re making contact with local businesses in the hope that they might begin to find a market for their work.

 

The brightest light on the horizon is the negotiations we’re in with a local motorcycle manufacturing start-up company that sought us out as partners because of our vocational training program in welding and a funder interested in businesses involved in such partnerships. If all goes well, our girls and boys will weld and build component parts to supply to the plant and, over time, be hired at the plant itself. FINGERS CROSSED!!!

 

We just wanted to end with a shout out to the wonderful ZSA ZSA Team from the Rotary Club in Knoxville, which recently visited the Center. In collaboration with the Books for Africa Foundation, they’d sent us dozens of boxes of books, and they arrived just in time to see our staff catalogue and shelve that contribution. Read about their visit at http://www.zsazsagroup.com/2015/02/ 

Not quite finished circular shelving
Not quite finished circular shelving
Shaun with his chair and Peter
Shaun with his chair and Peter's bird
Nkosi with his sculpture
Nkosi with his sculpture
Zimkids meets with motorcycle start-up
Zimkids meets with motorcycle start-up
The proud Zimkids tile team in new kitchen
The proud Zimkids tile team in new kitchen

Links:

Feb 26, 2015

The Sad and Happy Story of our Girls and more

Sibahle proudly holds her Advanced Level report
Sibahle proudly holds her Advanced Level report

On any given day at the local clinic in Pumula North, where Zimkids is located, a hundred young women many 15 years old wait to see a nurse with their babies. It seems that teen pregnancy is the rule rather than the exception. Zimkids commitment to our girls is framed by this reality. So when we offer training in the many skills they learn at our center we also hold workshops dealing with this problem. And many or our girls have responded by becoming more involved at the center with a sheer determination not to become another statistic. They ho;d tight onto their dreams.  Our counselor – Sithabisiwe, a Zimkids alumna who is raising her two younger brothers – pays particular attention to girls’ needs and works with them and their families to encourage them in achieving their dreams. We had one meeting with a former Zimkid who got pregnant all too young. She shared her experiences and life in an effort to enlighten them about what life is like on the other side of pregnancy.

 Still, it’s an uphill battle. Over the past twelve months, three of our teenagers, all under 18 years old, got pregnant.

 In the midst of our despair, however, there’s an extremely bright light we want to share, an important reminder about the difference we can make. Sibahlenkosini, who has been with us since 2008, just scored a remarkable 14 points on her Advanced Level high school exams, out of a possible 16 points. It’s a truly stellar achievement that puts her in serious competition for a place in the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe. We should know soon whether she will be accepted and have begun to put the word out to those interested in helping us help her with tuition.

 Sibahle’s father died when she was 8-years-old, and she and her 8 brothers and sisters were raised by her mother, who scrambled for money by selling firewood and sweets by the side of the road. But Sibahle refused to be deterred by her circumstances, inspired, in part, when her sister got pregnant at the age of 16 and admitted how miserable her life had become.

 Zimkids has offered Sibahle as much support as possible in her quest for an education. We bought her glasses when we realized she could barely see the chalkboard. We provided food and medical care. And, in line with our policy of pushing our young people to achieve by paying school fees for those who do well, we paid for her Advanced Level studies.

 An independent and focused young woman of quiet determination, Sibahle has set her sights very high, on a career in family law, helping women and children much like herself and her mother.

 On another front, our outreach program to a rural encampment called Methodist has grown to over 100 children.  Our staff and school leavers volunteer on their day off to go there and work with the kids. We also distributed much needed shoes courtesy of the Buckner Foundation. We introduced water baloon games to the kids and they had a ball!

Our Garden continues to provide us with all our vegetable needs under the care of Ngqabutho, Brighten and Zibusiso.

And we just renovated our kitchen!  So now we can add tiling and cabinet making to the list of skills our older kids are learning.

OUTREACH FUN AND GAMES
OUTREACH FUN AND GAMES
A bucket of shoes for outreach
A bucket of shoes for outreach
Lots of fun tossing water baloons!
Lots of fun tossing water baloons!
Brighten with today
Brighten with today's harvest
Finished Kitchen!
Finished Kitchen!

Links:

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