Zimkids Orphan Trust

Zimkids Orphan Trust is a neighborhood-based safe haven for orphaned children in impossible circumstances. We are committed to ensuring that the children and their caregivers have access to food and medical care, as well as creative, recreational, vocational and educational opportunities and training in the tools essential for self-reliance so they can grow into productive, healthy adults who are literate, energized, assertive and ready to take initiative for themselves, their families and their community.
Sep 30, 2016

Heading into the future

Our girls built a new obstacle unit for our course
Our girls built a new obstacle unit for our course

Over the past several years, we at Zimkids have become increasingly concerned about how to foster the creativity of the children. That’s not an easy task in a country where kids are trained to memorize, copy and repeat, where artisans tend to churn out dozens of identical sculptures and paintings to sell to visiting tourists, and when sidewalk vendors all sell tomatoes, onions and cabbage.

Given the absence of employment, and thus the need to be creative in devising ways to make a living, we encourage the Zimkids to draw outside the lines and think outside the box.

To do so, we’re working on a three-pronged project with both a personal development and vocational emphasis. The first prong mimics what is done in many American science camps like Camp Invention, where young people are taught to build robots and to make plastic birds fly. Tinashe, our director, just took our first steps in that direction by working with a group of children to motorize one of the wire cars that Zimbabwean children build for their own entertainment. Children here always push their cars or trucks with sticks. They might have seen motorized machine-made toys. But they have never seen or imagined motorizing their own creations. Next step? Small robots, animals and robots so that they will simultaneously explore the artistic and the scientific. We’re currently writing grant applications to bring trainers from the U.S. for this prong and the other prongs.

The second prong is geared toward our youngest children and thus is irrelevant to vocational training. But the final one is entirely oriented in that direction. We recently hired a terrific artisan to work with our girls to make wire cars and figures, to build cars out of tin cans, and imagining how to use other scrap materials to CREATE. And those creations are not only marketable, but when combined with new technology have serious potential to CHANGE the market.

 

Take a look at the girls’ first attempts at wire/beaded and or shredded metal can Christmas ornaments, whether small trees, Santas, cars, or bicycles.

 

Many of our older girls are too busy preparing for their final Ordinary level examinations to be involved in much beyond our tutoring program that we hope will help them pass – especially the much-dreaded math exam.

 

But almost all of them are involved with a new garden project that will provide vegetables for our internal use and for the families of the neediest children. Involving them in more modern gardening techniques is another way to provide them with a bit of a safety net. For the past several years, Zimbabwe has experienced terrible droughts that have dramatically increased food insecurity even in urban areas since almost everyone keeps a tiny plot of vegetables. At Zimkids, the girls learn how to use drip irrigation to reduce the amount water needed for gardening, low-cost shading materials and composting.

 

So we’re moving, more slowly than we would like, of course. But given the circumstances on the ground in Zimbabwe, some days we are surprised that we’re able to move forward at all!

Designing wire art.
Designing wire art.
Tilling the Garden
Tilling the Garden

Links:

Sep 30, 2016

Pumping up Creativity

Craft creations
Craft creations

Over the past several years, we at Zimkids have become increasingly concerned about how to foster the creativity of the children. That’s not an easy task in a country where kids are trained to memorize, copy and repeat, where artisans tend to churn out dozens of identical sculptures and paintings to sell to visiting tourists, and when sidewalk vendors all sell tomatoes, onions and cabbage.

Given the absence of employment, and thus the need to be creative in devising ways to make a living, we encourage the Zimkids to draw outside the lines and think outside the box.

To do so, we’re working on a three-pronged project with both a personal development and vocational emphasis. The first prong mimics what is done in many American science camps like Camp Invention, where young people are taught to build robots and to make plastic birds fly. Tinashe, our director, just took our first steps in that direction by working with a group of children to motorize one of the wire cars that Zimbabwean children build for their own entertainment. Children here always push their cars or trucks with sticks. They might have seen motorized machine-made toys. But they have never seen or imagined motorizing their own creations. Next step? Small robots, animals and robots so that they will simultaneously explore the artistic and the scientific. We’re currently writing grant applications to bring trainers from the U.S. for this prong and the other prongs. The second prong is geared toward our youngest children and thus is irrelevant to vocational training. But the final one is entirely oriented in that direction. We recently hired a terrific artisan to work with the young people to make wire cars and figures, to build cars out of tin cans, and imagining how to use other scrap materials to CREATE. And those creations are not only marketable, but when combined with new technology have serious potential to CHANGE the market.

 They’ve been turning out some amazing creations, either small scale ones out of wire and shredded cans or larger ones welded out of scrap metal.  

In the meantime we are finishing up a chicken coop that will provide income and food for the center,

 We think we’re on the cusp of striking a major blow to gender expectations in Zimbabwe. (Okay, it’s not a MAJOR blow, but it’s an advance). Early Childhood Education is perhaps the only fast-growing field of endeavor since government has mandated that all children have a year of education before Grade 1. Virtually every certified early childhood educator in the country is female, and we’ve been searching for the right boy to send for training for our preschool. We think we’ve found the ideal candidate brave enough to cross the gender divide!

Installing chicken wire in our newly built coop
Installing chicken wire in our newly built coop
Welding the door to the coop
Welding the door to the coop

Links:

Aug 25, 2016

Starting our own Camp Invention!

Andile created his first wire bicycle
Andile created his first wire bicycle

Over the past several years, we at Zimkids have become increasingly concerned about how to foster the creativity of the children. That’s not an easy task in a country where children are trained to memorize, copy and repeat, and where artisans tend to churn out dozens of identical sculptures and paintings to sell to visiting tourists.

 

We’ve tried encouraging the Zimkids to draw outside the lines, to imagine fantasy worlds, with limited success. But now we have an entirely new vision of how to proceed and we are excited to share our plan with you since we believe that it will nurture our kids in entirely new ways.

 

Have any of you sent a child to a science camp like Camp Invention, where young people are taught to build robots and to make plastic birds fly? For American children, such experiences are terrific, but for Zimbabwean children, such experiences are beyond the realm of imagination. And that is precisely why we are beginning to build our own approach to Camp Invention starting with the creation of wire figures wrapped in strips from soda cans.

 

Tinashe, our director, just took our first steps in that direction by working with a group of children to motorize one of the wire cars that Zimbabwean children build for their own entertainment. Children here always push their cars or trucks with sticks. They might have seen motorized machine-made toys. But they have never seen or imagined motorizing their own creations.

 

That’s where we are starting, and we plan to move on to small robots, animals and robots so that they will simultaneously explore the artistic and the scientific.

 

We are currently preparing grant applications to scale up this step by bringing a trainer from Camp Invention or a similar organization both to work with our children and to train older Zimkids and staff to serve as camp counselors. They will thus be able to offer regular “camps” to our kids and to reach out to the wider community for special camps that will generate income for them and for Zimkids.

 

Step 2 will be geared toward our youngest children, the preschool kids, who are trapped pretty firmly in the rigid curriculum mandated by the Ministry of Education. But during holidays and weekends, we are free to broaden their learning, and we plan to do so by bringing to Zimbabwe an amazing preschool teacher who has been a firm supporter of Zimkids. As with Camp Invention, we plan to have the teacher work with the children directly and with our staff so that her programs can continue.

 

Finally, while we already have a terrific artisan working with the children on the wire cars and figures, on building cars out of tin cans, and imagining how to use other scrap materials to CREATE, we hope to bring in a professional from South Africa to challenge them further.

 

So please keep your fingers crossed for us in our search for grant money. Our children are confined by traditional expectations and traditional ways of thinking. We’re about to make a major push to open their minds and let their imaginations flow.

Mongameli wants to make his gekkos walk!
Mongameli wants to make his gekkos walk!

Links:

 
   

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