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.
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Chair, Board of Trustees