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.
Nov 10, 2014

Zimkids volunteer to help other orphans nearby.

Children from our outreach program
Children from our outreach program

Zimkids’ latest program is taking our young people 7 miles from our center and a world away, beyond the edge of the city into a small settlement of crude shacks, without water or electricity, into a world where children’s prospects are even dimmer than they are in Pumula, where we operate. 70 percent of the children in the community are orphans, most of the teenage girls already have two or more kids, usually by two or more fathers. So babies are raising babies.

 For our older kids, going to Methodist, as the community is called, is giving back, taking their days off to transfer the skills they’ve acquired at Zimkids, bringing joy and knowledge where there is so little. We tried something similar several years back with the families squatting at the dumpsite, but it was simply too far away – and our older kids did not yet have the initiative. That has changed now, and our seniors and alumni are doing an amazing job at Methodist – and we hope to find the money for a vehicle that will allow this to become a formal Zimkids program.

 Meanwhile, back at the Center, we’re gearing up for a whole new cohort of kids to enter our vocational training program and become leaders in our outreach effort at Methodist. They just sat their O-level examinations (following the traditional British system, Zimbabwe has two levels of high school, Ordinary and Advanced level, with the latter being primary for those oriented toward university education.) Results will not be out until February, but we expect that most of our young people will not pass since they received little education during primary school, a time when teachers were on strike for several years. Usually, our pass rate is well above the national average, but that’s not saying much since, nationally, only 1 in 5 children pass their exams.

 So we’re bringing in supplies for welding and sewing, construction and carpentry – and Samantha is looking forward to extra help in the preschool, where she’ll be training childcare workers.

 Our littlest Zimkids are preparing for graduation, and they are more than ready for Grade 1. They not only know the alphabet and basic numbers, taken their first steps toward mastering computers, and have been awash in the books generous donors have been sending their way. While they’re been with us, they’ve been well-nourished, thanks to our feeding program and our abundant garden; well-dressed because of donations of shoes from the Buckner Foundation; and warm because of the Texas grandmothers, who keep making them amazing blankets.

 Once they’re in school, we won’t lose track of them, of course, since they’ll be back at “home” with us on weekends and over school holidays.

 Tinashe Basa, our director, arrived in October, on his annual reporting and fundraising trip. We’ve been thrilled at the growing number of schools and churches interested in our work, so he’s been racing around with Dennis, our founder, from Texas to Maryland, Cincinnati to New York, and then on to Alaska. Knowing that Philip, his number 2, is capably running things back home, Tinashe can enjoy the relief from the constant power and water cuts, from the incessant road blocks where police always find a reason – often a non-reason – to demand a $10 fine, and from the late-night phone calls about a medical emergency. (And the latter would be a major emergency at the moment since the hospital physicians are all on strike!)

Tinashe trained Nkosi, Nkosi trains our new kids
Tinashe trained Nkosi, Nkosi trains our new kids
Their first computer experience at ourteach
Their first computer experience at ourteach
Samantha on day off works with our newest Zimkids
Samantha on day off works with our newest Zimkids
Tinashe opens a world to US kids skyping Zimkids
Tinashe opens a world to US kids skyping Zimkids
Two of our youngest at Methodist encampment
Two of our youngest at Methodist encampment

Links:

Oct 7, 2014

The Glow of Success and Paying it Forward

This is home for our outreach kids
This is home for our outreach kids

Our vocational training programs are keeping everyone hopping inside the walls of our Center, even as things outside them continue to decay. The economy is once again in steep decline. Businesses continue to close, the government continues to raise taxes and fees in order to pay civil servants, whose wages eat up 75 percent of the national budget. And the news on the AIDS front is grim. The national prevalence rate, long in decline, is inching back up, and Bulawayo’s prevalence rate of almost 22 percent is 50 percent above the national average. Across the country, 1.2 million adults are now living with HIV, a constant reminder of how many new orphans we will need to serve.

We’re working hard to teach our young people to become planners, anticipators and organizers. Raised to a culture in which respect for elders and obedience to authority are the prime values, Zimbabwean youth have no experience in these essential skills. Providing them with such training is at the core of all of our activities, and we’re now ratcheting things up a notch with a new outreach program to young people in a village 15 minutes away, young people who are in even more desperate circumstances than our kids. Our older children are learning to pay it forward and have taken the lead in planning activities with those youngsters, assessing their needs, and calculating how they might help without breaking our budget.

Thanks to a generous donation targeted to health care training, two of our Senior girls have almost finished a nurses’ aide course. They have conducted baseline health screenings of all 200 children and are monitoring them monthly, using a spreadsheet designed by one of our girls who caught the computer “bug.” And the head of the program that trained them has promised to find them employment, a true miracle in a country where unemployment hovers at 90 percent.

Our welding program is soaring, with new designs emerging. Ngqabutho and Zibusiso designed and built fabulous curved shelves for our sewing center - and a visitor was so wowed that he ordered a set for himself!

The new school year begins in January, and December is the month when parents began their search for the required school uniforms for their children. Our new sewing center, then, us buzzing with activity as the girls cut and sew to stockpile for the coming demand. Uniforms are expensive, often hard to find, and available only in town, a $2 trip. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that a lower price and easy availability will give us plenty of orders. Our girls are certainly ready! And we should note that even as they prepare for the uniform season, the girls are also teaching all the children how to sew in the hope that they will at least be able to care for their own meager stocks of clothing.

Our Resource Center is filled with our youngest children, our second class of preschoolers. Two of our Seniors have now finished training in Early Childhood Education, so we are ready to apply for a license – and then open our doors to some paying children to defray costs for our orphans.  The government has stringent requirements about the physical structure of a preschool, so as soon as we find the funds, our crack building team will gear up for a new round of construction – and a new group of trainees, under the guidance of our very own Master Builders, Foster Dingani and Collen Makurumidze, two of our first trainees.

Fortunately, even in this long dry season, our greenhouse is producing a bumper crop of vegetables daily, so we’ll be able to keep their bellies full!

It’s incredibly moving to watch our Zimkids move into adulthood with the tools they need to succeed, with skills and consciences that they’ve developed thanks to your help.

Note on our facebook page /Zimkids that we are now a part of AmazonSmile.  If you click on the AmazonSmile logo on the left side of our facebook page and go to Amazon.smile when you shop Zimkids will receive a donation from Amazon. 

Screening, registering new kids with a cool drink
Screening, registering new kids with a cool drink
Thamani+ Hlonaphile in their nurse aide uniforms
Thamani+ Hlonaphile in their nurse aide uniforms
Ngqabutho and Zibu with their latest creation
Ngqabutho and Zibu with their latest creation
Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes!!!
Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes!!!
Samantha graduated with her ECD certificate
Samantha graduated with her ECD certificate

Links:

Oct 7, 2014

Hip Hip Hooray for our Girls!!!

Checking temps for our monthly health screening
Checking temps for our monthly health screening

     These have been exhausting days at Zimkids as we juggle the growing number of projects in which our girls are involved. Providing them with skills to ensure their futures, as well as the future of Zimkids, seems even more pressing as recent HIV prevalence statistics for Bulawayo grow increasingly grim. The city’s prevalence rate of almost 22 percent is now 50 percent above the national average. Across the country, 1.2 million adults are living with HIV, a constant reminder of how many new orphans we will need to serve.

      The new school year begins in January, and December is the month when parents began their search for the required school uniforms for their children. Our new sewing center, then, is buzzing with activity as the girls cut and sew to stockpile for the coming demand. Uniforms are expensive, often hard to find, and available only in town, a $2 trip. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that a lower price and easy availability will give us plenty of orders. Our girls are certainly ready! And we should note that even as they prepare for the uniform season, the girls are also teaching all the children how to sew in the hope that they will at least be able to care for their own meager stocks of clothing.

      The ZimGirls Welders are hard at work, and our preschool is filling the youngest children’s days with sports, computer games, the alphabet and multiplication – and their bellies with solid nutrition. Our plan to open the program to paying students – which continuing to offer our programs to orphans free-of-charge – is moving along. Doing so requires us to construct a new building – a wonderful opportunity for our construction trainees – since the specifications for the physical premises of a licensed preschool are quite stringent. We’re scrambling to raise the funds for materials but are confident that our generous donors will help us so that the preschool will become self-supporting.

      Our most recent initiative involves more careful monitoring of the health of our young people – and more focused health education as well. Thanks to a donation targeted to health care, two of our Senior girls aare now finishing a nurses’ aide course. They have conducted baseline health screenings of all 200 children and are monitoring them monthly, using a spreadsheet designed by one of our girls who caught the computer “bug.”

      As we watch young people who have been with us for 5-6 years running programs, receiving professional certifications, and growing into responsible and creative leaders, we’re confident that we’re on the right track. The girls are not only gaining essential skills, but they are mentoring one another, keeping each other healthy and, as much as possible, out of harm’s way.

     Thank you for helping them move forward into bright futures! And please like us on Facebook at /zimkids!  Note on our facebok page /Zimkids that we are now a part of AmazonSmile.  If you click on the AmazonSmile logo on the left side of our facebook page and whenever you shop at Amazon.smile.com (Same as Amazon) Zimkids will receive a donation from Amazon. 

Thamani is entering health stats in our computer
Thamani is entering health stats in our computer
Our ZimGirls welding team at work!
Our ZimGirls welding team at work!
Samantha and Pauline with a day
Samantha and Pauline with a day's harvest

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