Welcome to the Summer Update from ZET.
Over the past few months we have continued to help vulnerable children in Zimbabwe to access birth certificates and other important identity documents.
In the past 3 months, another 30 cases have been successfully resolved, while we have taken on 778 new cases, the majority of which are still in progress.
We have recently introduced 'Kidz Clubs' to our programme. These clubs are a fantastic way to engage with children and it gives them the opportunity to participate more fully in the project...as well as having fun!!!
The clubs are held at various locations in the areas of Bulawayo where the project is active. They provide a space for vulnerable children meet regularly and to play and share experiences. Through song, dance, and poetry they learn about children's rights and identity rights in a way which is fun and memorable.
Since we started these Kidz Clubs attendances have been growing by the week, with current numbers being around 200 children.
See the welcome ZET representatives were given by Magwegwe Kidz Club by following the YouTube link below!
Thank you once again for your ongoing support.
Welcome to the Spring update from ZET. We've had a very busy few months! Since October, we have achieved the following results...
60 girls and 68 boys were assisted to successfully obtain identity documents!
Some were required to travel to remote areas to access their birth records – the furthest being Binga, which is 400km away from Bulawayo and very difficult to access. This difficulty would previously have deterred the child from pursuing registration, but with the support offered by Trinity Project such individuals were able to track down their birth records and become formally registered.
19,567 people attended awareness raising activities!
Our awareness raising campaigns equip children and parents with knowledge on birth and death registration and inheritance issues.
In the last 6 months we reached 2,831 parents, 9,228 girls, and 7,598 boys!
Award winning Field Officers!
In December 2013 Nkazimulo Khumalo, one of the Trinity Project’s voluntary Field Officers, was presented with an ‘Outstanding Community Volunteer’ award by Zimbabwe Democracy Development Trust, in recognition of her work with this project.
Successful advocacy with local hospitals!
Trinity Project has conducted successful advocacy work with both United Bulawayo Hospital and Mpilo Hospital, which are both now issuing birth confirmation records without requiring poor mothers to pay hospital fees upfront, which had previously been a significant barrier to birth registration.
Thembi is a 16 year old orphan who was referred to the project by the local child protection committee. Just over two years ago, Thembi was raped by her uncle, and fell pregnant as a result. She is now mother to an 18 month old baby boy.
Thembi reported the rape to the police; her uncle was successfully prosecuted and is now in jail. However, as a result of this brave decision, Thembi received death threats from her extended family. Some of these family members also illegally occupied the house which had belonged to Thembi’s late parents.
Through mediation with the family, Trinity Project was able to find a family member to speak up on behalf of the girl. This enabled us to take the case to a Magistrate, who appointed Trinity Project as the executors of the deceased estate. As a result, it was then possible to evict the family members who were squatting in Thembi’s home.
By returning the house to Thembi and her child, the project provided them with a safe place to live. Since the courts ruled in her favour, Thembi's extended family have given up their efforts to grab the property and the death threats have stopped.
Thembi was always at the top of her class at school, but the traumas she has suffered over the last 2 years have forced her to drop out of education. She is now determined to find the money to pay for her school fees so she can return to education and fulfil her ambition of becoming a solicitor.
Sadly, there are many more girls like Thembi in Zimbabwe. But thanks to your continued support, we are able to intervene and provide them with the legal and emotional support they so desperately need.
(N.B. names in this case study have been changed in the interests of privacy and child protection).
Dear Zimbabwe Educational Trust supporter,
Thank you once again for your donation, hope you had a lovely festive period. We wanted to update you on the progress of our Trinity project by showing you exactly who your money is helping! Our project manager, Mr Pumulani Mpofu, has given us this moving report from the heart of the project. Viola’s thought-provoking story highlights how deep-rooted, life-damaging and difficult to escape the birth certificate problem is in Zimbabwe. As Pumulani’s account shows, Zimbabwe Educational Trust’s work in promoting awareness about the importance of birth certificate registration is vital in ensuring that the lives of individual Zimbabweans are not damaged and their opportunities inhibited, by what has unfortunately become a cultural tradition of non-registration of birth certificates.
“Whose fault is it?” by Mr. Pumulani Mpofu, Trinity Project Leader
The Zimbabwean constitution’s assertion that each and every child has a right to learn is very much contradicted when children are without birth certificates. Some children cannot enter school at all, while those who do can’t take their Grade seven examinations, and thus are unable to gain the qualifications that they need to escape the poverty cycle. Viola is in Grade seven at Mhali Primary School, and is one of the students whose being prevented from taking their Grade seven examinations because of her lack of birth certificate. She was born on 27th November in 2002, here in Bulawayo.
She has lived with her maternal uncle since her parents died, but her uncle is also suffering as a result of the prevalent birth certificate problem in Zimbabwe. Her uncle works a variety of jobs to support his family but is unfortunately unable to get a proper job because, like Viola he was unable to sit his Grade seven exams. This was also the case for his other four siblings – their mother did not have a birth certificate, which made it very difficult for the children to get their mother’s death certificate when she died. A death certificate is essential in order to gain orphan status, which without children are unable to gain government financial support for education.
Getting death certificates can be very problematic for these families, who are already carrying the burden of a deceased relative. A search fee is required for a death certificate to be issued without a birth certificate. For Viola, her grandfather Patrick is unable to raise the money required for a search fee because of his status as unemployed, and the 10 grandchildren under his care in his Matapo rural homestead. Law also requires that, if the search fee is available, a blood relative of the deceased, preferably the parents, has to act as a witness for the death certificate to be issued. However, family disputes between Patrick and his wife’s father due to Patrick not following the proper socio-cultural marriage procedures, Patrick’s father in law will never acknowledge him. Trinity are helping Patrick, contacting his wife’s father to help Patrick gain his wife’s death certificate.
For Viola, the problem can be traced back to her grandmother. Viola’s grandmother did not live with her parents growing up, and thus the relatives that she was staying with did not tell her parents to register their child. Viola’s grandmother went to work at Matopo village, where she met Patrick. His unemployment status means he is no position to fulfil his in-law’s wish of going for formalities. All five of his children have been disadvantaged, and his grandchildren will never go to high school, and thus never get proper and paying jobs. The Trinity Project’s work in increasing awareness of the damage that not registering for birth certificates can cause, and the way it can cripple a family and prevent progress is vital.
In such a scenario, there is no utopian solution. Viola was enrolled at Mhali Primary School because her mother promised to register her before the end of her first year at Primary level, which never happened. Viola’s mother, Musa was unable to register because she herself was not registered, and neither was her own mother. The way in which non-registration of birth certificate can prevent access to the gift of education is evident.
Non-registration for birth certificates is a social, cultural and economic issue and if people are continuously given an insight regarding to how they can avert such scenarios, perhaps every child in Zimbabwe can be registered. Thus, the work of Trinity Project in promoting awareness, which is only possible through your continued support, is imperative in providing education to all in Zimbabwe.
Thank you very much for your continued interest in our project, as you can see birth certificates are causing problems in Zimbabwe to many children, just like Viola.
Communication and Operations Intern
We recently received the following story from our project staff in Bulawayo. This moving tale demonstrates the cultural difficulties which children often face in their attempts to access education, and why it is vital that we continue to fund this project so that every child has the chance to enrol in school and build a brighter future for themselves.
Thank you once again for your continued support.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- FAILED BY CULTURE - A report by Mr P Mpofu
Elinate and her younger brother Prince will never go to school for the rest of their lives if their uncle Elisha Khumalo does not change his mind regarding to the way he views them. They will only spend their lives looking as other children go to school and wishing they were born from a different setting .Elinate was born on the 23rd of March 2000, while her younger brother was born five years later on the 7th of December, their mother is Sakhile Khumalo. Up to date these two kids have never had a taste as to what it is like to be in school because they do not have birth certificates and school heads are refusing to enrol them as per the law of Zimbabwe which states that one should have a birth certificate so that she /he can be enrolled in a particular school.
These kids mentioned above will live to witness their future dreams being shattered because without birth certificates they cannot be able to even do dirty jobs or to even register their children when they go up, yet their uncle is still firm on his decision of denying them the right to be registered. The story of Elinate and Prince is shared by many Zimbabwean children who are denied the right to birth registration because of socio cultural factors as is the case with Elinate and Prince. Elinate and Prince were born out of wedlock which is somehow a taboo in the African context. To make matters worse their parents were cohabiting which resulted in non payment of lobola which is a great of cultural symbol that which has to be respected and cherished by everyone.
A man has to pay lobola in order for him to be viewed as a son in law which was not the case with Taurai (Prince and Elinate‘s father),who did not bother to go for lobola negotiations and hence he never paid lobola(bride price) to the Khumalo clan. This negatively affected his children and also became a bone of contention between Taurai and the Khumalo family resulting in serious enmity between the two parties. Culturally Lobola is believed to appease spirits and make them happy such that they bless a marriage and create everlasting good relations between the dead and living members of the families involved in Lobola negotiations. Elinate and Prince were then regarded as outcasts and illegitimate children and to make matters worse their mother and father separated after six years which resulted in Sakhile returning to her parents place because she had nowhere else to stay due to lack of finances, which created more tensions between her and her brothers because culture looks down upon a woman who leaves her marriage and goes back to her parents place. Sakhile did not at first register her children because she wanted them to use their father’s surname as per tradition where by the society identifies one by his surname or totem which instils self fear to women who would have been left by their husbands to register their children out of fear of being looked down by the society.
More over culturally one has to use his or her paternal surname and failure to do that may result in ancestors being angered thereby bringing bad luck and even mental illness as per cultural belief to the individual not using his /her original surname. This cultural belief refrained Sakhile from registering her children using her surname before going back to her parents place out of fear of the unknown as she did not want her children to be subjected to the above misfortunes. Thus Prince and Elinate remained unregistered even though their mother would have been able to register them alone as a single parent. By the time Sakhile got rid of the fear of the unknown when her children were being exempted from school, she then decided to register her children using her surname of which her elder brother threatened to chase her and her children if ever they attempt to use the Khumalo surname which is associated with royalty and honour because it traces back to King Mzilikazi, the founder of the Ndebele kingdom. To Sakhile’s brother, the children are not part of the family because their father did not pay bride price and worse still is from a different tribe. There is nothing that other family members can say or do because he (the brother) is the first born and his father is late and as per custom he is now regarded as the head of the family and whatever he says should be respected because he is the family spokesperson.
This socio cultural issue has hindered Elinate and Prince from attaining their rights to identity and education. These children spend the entire day selling vegetables by the street corners and if nothing is done, they will spend their entire lives selling vegetables so that they can get money to help their mother in their upkeep. This story is one of the many stories in Zimbabwe which prove how culture as a way of life and other societal issues hinder birth registration. If only these children were registered perhaps their future could be different as they would be at school. This shows how Lobola, family beliefs, history and the society at large negatively affect birth registration because it explains why a large number of children in the country are not at school and do not have birth certificates. This is even made worse by the fact that most people, and the society in general, view birth registration as an alien thing which has nothing to do with their way of life because of the lack of knowledge regarding to the importance of birth certificates. The best way forward to change these conceptions is to engage the community in interactive dialogue and reach out to different segments of the population through door to door visitations so as to change the people’s current view on birth registration.
Hello to all our donors, we hope you are having a lovely summer (or winter to our companions in the Southern hemisphere)
As an update we thought we’d share one detailed story about a girl named Precious, to highlight the complex situations many Zimbabwean children face, and why each case may be time and effort consuming to close.
Precious was born in 1999, her mother sadly passed away four years later. She passed Nsukamini primary school with flying colours and was looking forward to starting high school, with dreams of becoming an athlete.
Precious was however unable to sit her 1st year high school exams as she didn’t possess a birth certificate. Her father, Martin, was unable to get a certificate for her, as he did not possess a birth certificate or ID card. He couldn’t afford the trip to his home village in order to get witnesses to vouch for his home birth, and obtain a birth certificate himself.
Precious was also unable to access her mother’s death certificate from relatives, which would help her to gain her birth certificate. Her maternal relatives refused on the basis that Lobola (dowry payments) had not been paid by the father. Precious is still being attended to, as the case is still on-going.
This story highlights the difficulties faced by many of the children we work with, and shows how obtaining a birth certificate can be very time consuming and a difficult process. It is therefore vital that we continue to support these children in every way possible, to ensure that each child is able to enrol in school and build a better future for themselves. Many thanks for your continued support.
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