TO our donors: Your generosity and support have been remarkable and deeply appreciated. Thank you so so much.
The children are involved with their usual activities including soccer, art, dance, song, chess, and computer training. Every few weeks or so we take them to the site of our new center now under construction for cleanup day where teams win prizes for the most trash collected. They are also hard at work under the guidance of Shaka Ndlovu, an immensely talented local artist who donates his time to teach the children and is painting the front wall murals. He is working with our Elders (age 15-17) training them to develop and implement murals that they will paint on the interior of the security wall of our center that is under construction now.
The Zimkids building 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.
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 to which you are all invited!
Dear friends of Zimkids,
We at Zimkids want to extend our deepest gratitude for your support and kindness. We welcome our newest donors at Lilly who put your faith in us. Be assured your donations will be used wisely and directed entirely to benefit the children at Zimkids.
We continue with our food distributions and activities as described in our website at www.zimkidsorphantrust.org.
And we are still paying school fees for those who are at the top of their class. (Paying for everyone would cost us $50,000, so that is not an option, and our system seems to encourage the children to work hard.) This year one of our most active members passed her O-level exams with flying colors, a real accomplishment given how frequently her teachers were on strike for the past several years. Thus far, she is the only Zimkid to have made this achievement, so we are paying to send her to a wonderful boarding school in Matopos for her A-levels in the hope that she’ll finish well, be accepted into the United States Achievers Award (which helps disadvantaged kids find scholarships to U.S. universities) and fulfill her dream of going to medical school. We are all very proud of her. Kudzai Sithole and Lindiwe Mabhena, both 15 years old, are always at the top of their classes and we are hoping that they will follow Pauline’s example.
Construction on the Zimkids Center continues apace. The children of Zimkids, under the supervision of our Council of Elders are currently designing the interior murals that they will paint on the interior of the wall. In a few weeks, the children, Seniors, Elders and our Director Tinashe Basa will be painting classic Ndebele designs on the front wall of the site. And the children gather periodically to continue to clean the site and assist as needed in whatever ways are appropriate to their ages.
Once the first building is up, we will begin to furnish it. A clothing manufacturing company 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.
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
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Chair, Board of Trustees