TO our donors: Your generosity and support have been remarkable and deeply appreciated.
The Building Zimkids a Home; The Adrian Suskin Center for Zimkids project is moving along swiftly now. All foundations are in; the sub floor (5” quarrystone/cement mixture) is in place for the Resource Center. The remaining sub floors for the bathrooms, gazebo, Tech Center and Office cottage will be poured in the next two weeks. The walls, windows and doors of the resource center are up. Once the sub floors are all in the walls of the Tech center will go up followed by the Bathrooms. A pump and piping have been installed in the well. The water tank stand is built. Following my return December 2 the roofs will be installed. Once the roofs are up then the final floor finish is poured and the walls are skim-coated inside and out. Our six Seniors (18,19 year old orphans) are working at the site and have learned how to plan, mix and build with cement. Two of them have become so proficient that they could easily be hired by construction companies now. They in turn will be training our Elders (age 15-17).
We have been chosen to be one of eight charities for the Barnert Temple Mitzvah Mall focusing on water projects. Our plan is to install drip irrigation and to have caregivers and our children participate in the planning, implementation and care of the market garden. Once the buildings are up we will enclose a space to raise broiler chickens and egg layers. Both the market Garden and Chicken project will both feed our kids and produce some income that will move us closer to self-sufficiency.
Our security walls are up and the children are working on developing their artistic skills under the Elders direction and a local outstanding artist, Shaka Ndlovu, who is volunteering his expertise.
Sithibisiwe, 18, is one of the seniors working at the site. She is the sole caretaker of her two younger brothers. She is installing a brick path up to the buildings so that our buildings are accessible to our children and caregivers who are wheelchair bound .
We have applied for a grant to purchase computers for our Tech Center which will be used to train our kids in the use of a computer and internet. When the children are in school the tech center will become an internet café for the greater Pumula neighborhood. Again, moving us closer to self-sufficiency.
Thanks to you all of this is happening. We are all very excited and are looking forward to the grand opening sometime in March, 2012.
Dear friends of Building Zimkids a Home,
We at Zimkids want to extend our deepest gratitude for your support and kindness. We welcome our newest donors at Lilly who put so much faith in us. Be assured your donations will be used wisely and directed entirely to benefit the children at Zimkids.
The first project report provides background on this project, so this one is the update as of August 1.
Construction continues apace. The 370 meter wall surrounding the property is complete. The gate is installed. (In Zimbabwe security is a serious issue, walls being an essential part of providing a safe environment for the children as well a protection from theft). As is usual with Zimkids, we didn’t want the ordinary, so we designed our gate to reflect our surroundings and got our inspiration from the waving fields of tall thatch grass. As a sculptural welder I worked with our team to construct the gate. Signage will be installed after the final coat of paint. (See photo).
The foundations have been dug for the buildings and construction on those will begin the second week of August. Our Seniors – the young people we’ve worked with who are now over the age of 18 - are being trained in construction skills by a builder and are now able to work on their own. They’ve done an amazing job! Soon they will be involved in constructing the gumpole roof infrastructure followed by plumbing installation. A generous Zimbabwean donated the tile for the girls and boys bathrooms.
The children of Zimkids, under the supervision of our Council of Elders, are currently designing the interior murals that they will paint on the walls of our buildings. And in a few weeks, the children, Seniors, Elders and our Director Tinashe Basa will begin painting classic Ndebele designs on the front wall of the site.
The children gather periodically to continue to clean the site and assist as needed and according to their age.
Once the first building is up, we will begin to furnish it. A local clothing manufacturer recently went out of business and sold us chairs and tables at rock bottom prices. The Bulawayo public library has agreed to sell us children’s books for $6 per large box that we’ll add to our library. We have received two more donated laptops for the eventual tech center. And we seem to be on the verge of free shipping for donations.
All in all, we’re feeling extremely proud of how far we have come – thanks to your kindness, assistance and good wishes. We will continue to work hard to deserve it and use it in the most cost-effective, focused and positive way to assist our children.
Dear friends of Zimkids,
First, we at Zimkids want to extend our deepest gratitude for your support and kindness. It has not only allowed us to continue our work but has given us enough stability so that we’ve been able to to begin building our new home, which will give the orphans we work with a classroom and clinic, a computer lab, library playing fields and a full kitchen – all powered by solar energy!
The building project is not only giving us the space that we need but is providing the older children we’ve worked with for years with training for their own futures in a country where unemployment now tops 90 percent. Several years ago, we turned Zimbabwean tradition on its head by appointing these older children to a Zimkids Council of Elders and teaching them to run activities – from chess to traditional dance and choir - with the younger kids and even to provide first aid.
Before we broke ground, those Elders (aged 17 & 18) – all of whom have finished school but cannot find jobs – became our Seniors and are now hard at work under the supervision of professional builders who are training them in every aspect of the process, from preparing the foundation to building walls, thatching, plumbing and electricity. If all goes well, we hope that by the time we’re done, they’ll be ready for some training in running a business so that they can spin themselves off into Zimkids Builders!
There’s still a huge amount of work to be done, of course. The wall encircling the 2-1/2 acre building site is almost complete – and it has been an enormous job! The Senior boys have not only been laying brick and pouring concrete; they’ve been living on the site to provide much-needed security and have already chased off men in donkey carts with their eyes on our bricks, blocks and sand! They’ll be taking a break soon to go to a nearby national park to harvest thatching grass. Then it will be time for the construction of our buildings! We are working closely with Dr. Sashka Maksimovic to make sure our clinic/first aid room has what she needs to serve our kids and their families. All of our children were tested for HIV last year. Those HIV+ children are closely monitored.
Meanwhile, our new Council of Elders, having grown up under the influence of our Seniors, have taken over our activities with great skill and have begun learning computers, for themselves, so they can in turn teach the younger kids and as part of our long-term goal of opening an Internet café. That is just one element of self-sustainability plan. The other two elements include a market garden based on environmentally sound drip irrigation processes and a project to raise chickens. Fortunately, a local chicken farmer has promised to train our Elders and Seniors to raise both layers and broilers and to recycle their waste so that we can avoid the use of chemical fertilizer in our garden.
Life is frantic, then, at Zimkids. But, immodestly, we believe that we’re creating a model center for orphans that will allow us to care for their educational, social, medical and personal needs even as we help train them to become leaders in caring for their families, their community, their environment, and their nation’s future.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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