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 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 with the younger kids – from chess to traditional dance and choir - 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 and girls have not only been laying brick and pouring concrete; the boys have 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.
We have many new children who have joined us over the last 2 years so in an effort to bring them together in a shared experience all the kids and the Seniors went to Masiye Camp for 6 days of fun, games and barbecues in April. They had a great time making happy memories that will last a long time and returning to Bulawayo as a Zimkids family.
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 and business owners that will equip them to care for their families, their community, their environment, and their nation’s future.
We are incredibly excited and proud to announce that in honor of our board member Adrian Suskin, two generous donors have given us enough money to build Zimkids its own home. Adrian has been in a pitched battle with cancer the last few years. In spite of monthly chemo he tirelessly assists us at Zimkids. Attached you'll find drawings of what the Adrian Suskin Center for Zimkids will look like when we finish building, hopefully by the end of the year. As you know, we've been operating out of a classroom and on the playing fields of a local primary school. Now, we will have our own multipurpose classroom, a future internet café stocked with laptops donated by the Town School for Boys in San Francisco, a clinic, storage facilities, and a performance gazebo. We are using the surrounding land not only for playing fields but for a market garden and chicken coops to move us toward self-sustainability. We are installing a well for irrigation. The center was designed by a local young architect pro bono and features Ndebele/Shona designs and thatched roofs - a updated version of a typical rural kraal.
The children are, of course, wildly excited about the plans, and the Elders are keen to begin building because we have arranged with the builders and other tradesmen for them to work alongside the professionals to gain skills in laying brick, installing plumbing and electricity, and preparing a modern drip irrigated market garden - skills that are actually marketable in Bulawayo.
In the next week or so you'll notice that we have added a new project page on globalgiving to help in buying desks and chairs for the classroom, bookshelves, clinic supplies and the like.
Join us, please, in giving an enormous thanks to Adrian and his wonderful friends!
NOTE: Global is holding a matching funds campaign on Wednesday, March 16. For every dollar donated Zimkids gets $1.30! Also there is a prize of $1000 for the project with the most donors.
All the best! and Thank you again for your support.
We have a lot of news to report!
First: Global Giving will match all donations with 30% up to a $1000 per donor on March 16th. They also will award the project with the most donors and/or the highest amount of donations with $1000. So Please you mark your calendars and think of us on March 16. Last year Zimkids raised over $20,000 in matching funds alone! That will feed all our children and their families for 5 months and pay for medicine and some school fees! Thank you so much for you past support.
In April we are taking all of our 160 orphans to Masiye Camp for 6 days. The camp, run by the Salvation Army, provides leadership training and a multitude of meaningful activities, team building, workshops and just plain fun. It’s been four years since we were there.
Five of our 16 year olds took their O level exams and two passed, one with very good scores. Pauline Mhendo, one of our superstars, a 17 year old young woman who lost her father in 1995, her mother and her grandmother in 2005, and joined Zimkids several years ago just defied the odds by passing her high school graduation exams. Her scores were a real tribute to her intelligence and tenacity since she'd spent most of high school not in school due to strikes and, when opened, without any qualified teachers. Zimbabwe has a second level of high school for the most serious students, and we went searching for a good yet affordable place for her. We're pleased to announce that she is now enrolled in the science program at Matopos Mission School. Thanks to our donors we are able to pay for her schooling. They have a 94 percent pass rate on the examinations for what are called A-levels, and we are confident that Pauline will do them, and us, proud by emerging at the top of her class. She wants to be a doctor. Following medical school she wants return to Zimkids as our physician.
Re Land Project: The site is now cleared of all trash and our Elders are working on the preliminary efforts to set up a viable market garden. A well will be drilled in March that will supply the complex with water and irrigation.
We continue our food distribution program and visits by our volunteer doctor. Since November we have had no deaths and everyone is in good health.
A special thanks to Tinashe Basa whose tireless efforts make Zimkids hum.
All the best and thank you from all of us at Zimkids Orphan Trust
Dear Friends of Zimkids
As I mentioned in our last update Zimkids has produced a video to compete for $10,000 in the Ford Focus Global Drive. After much work it is now posted entitled “You Can’t eat a Ford Focus” (right now it’s the first in the upper left corner) and all we need is your vote by clicking on the “Love It” button so could you take the time to go to this site: It has to be done by midnight December 31!
Click on the “Love it” button.
The more Love Its we get the better chance we have of winning. And we need A LOT! We are up against some stiff competition.
So make it your New Year’s resolution to Click and please ask your friends and family to join in the clicking!!!
Here’s the blurb on the video:
Everyone has heard about the misery of Africa, about the violence, death and dying. But no matter the hardships, just like their counterparts in the rest of the world, African children like to have fun, especially the children we work with. Every one of them would love to have a shiny new Ford Focus since trekking kilometer after kilometer on foot to get water and food is exhausting. But what the children we care for really need is security – and we’re trying to provide them with that possibility by establishing a garden and chicken coops to help feed them. We at Zimkids have the land to do that, and with $10,000 from Ford, we can dig a well, install a solar-powered pump, build chicken runs and teach our kids to grow their own futures. And if we do our jobs right, in the future, they’ll be able to buy their own Ford Focus.
Thanks SO much!
I returned to Zimbabwe December 2 made a beeline to Pumula North to see all the kids. Tinashe Basa, Sipho Nyoni, Prosper Mhodi and our Council of Elders have done an amazing job keeping Zimkids thriving and moving forward.
As you may know, the City granted Zimkids a large plot of land in October. The site was littered with heaps of detritus: needles, broken glass and cement, rusted metal, plastic bags, feces and more. There is no trash pickup so people have to have somewhere to throw it and the nearest open spaces generally gets the worst of it. So the Council of Elders set to work cleaning it. The first step was to clean the trash on the surface then to dig and dig and dig to get the buried trash out. Then we are collecting all the scattered glass shards and rusty cans. So far we’ve removed 15 bucket-loads. That was a must do before our barefooted little ones can use the land. This week all our kids age 15 on up chipped in and got to work. It will take a good month before we are done cleaning. Next we will be planting our garden with hardy protein-rich plants like chimulia (a kind of kale) and spinach, secure the property with donated fencing, and get our building plans drawn and approved by the City Council.
We are trying to put together a video to compete in the Ford Focus Global Test Drive “Start Something More Than a Car” competition. The award is $10,000. Once the video is done and submitted I’ll let you know the site where you can see it and ask that you click the “Love it” button that will help push up our chances of winning.
Tinashe and Sipho like to save surprises for me. The first was how much they had accomplished cleaning the land. And the second was when Sithibisiwe, Mbuso and Nqabutho’s’s mother died in September all our caregivers decided to chip in 5 rand (about 75 cents) each to help pay the cost of the funeral. Considering they are all poor our message of volunteerism is seeping into the Zimkids Community. They are also providing us with tools to clean the land.
On the school front, Kudzai Sithole who lost his caregiver last year scored at the very top in his seventh grade exams. Bravo Kudzai! Pauline Mhendo, Ayanda Nkala, Thandiwe Mlotshwa, and Mqondisi Ngwenya took their O level exams in November and we are awaiting the results. Pauline has been consistently at the top of her class. Janice Mabudah continues her A level schooling but wasn’t doing as well as she should so we are giving her one more term to improve. We pay the cost of their O level tests as well as school fees at a top A level school so long as they do well.
Tinashe began teaching the children about computers. His enthusiasm is contagious!
Our thanks go to all our individual donors for your continued support. A special thanks goes to the International Pilots Association Foundation for their grant and to Global Giving who make so many dreams come true. Also, a special thanks to the Ross School in East Hampton NY, Ramaz School and the Friends Giving Circle in New York City and the Town School in San Francisco for their continued and enthusiastic support and to all our friends and supporters in the Catskill Mountains in NY.
Best wishes for the Holiday season from all of us at Zimkids. If I can get it uploaded before the electricity goes out you can see the attached video clip and photos!
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Chair, Board of Trustees