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.
Feb 18, 2014

February, 2014 Update

Brian Dube in 2009
Brian Dube in 2009

Zimkids has just marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Brian, a 10-year-old Zimkid born with HIV but undiagnosed and untreated until we intervened with his family. By then, his immune system was seriously compromised. He had contracted tuberculosis. And while we managed to get him on antiretroviral drugs and a TB regimen, it was too late. The day we drove his body to be buried at his rural home, we decided to honor Brian with a vow of “NEVER AGAIN.” All of our children were tested for HIV, those who are positive are enrolled at the local pediatric AIDS clinic for drug treatment, and we can now mark five years without a funeral.

 

It isn’t easy, unfortunately. Several months ago, Cynthia, who is 16 years old, fell ill. When we took her to the clinic, doctors realized that her antiretroviral treatment had stopped working and that she had tuberculosis. Happily, she was quickly put on a new drug regimen and beat back the TB. She is once again at school, thriving.

 

We’re still struggling with the health of Langilihle, also 16. Although the local pediatric AIDS center sees her regularly, the doctors there missed the fact that her antiretroviral regimen was no longer working. We struggled to get her help, waiting in long queues to little avail. We discovered that the only way to avoid waiting hours for attention at the emergency room was to arrange an ambulance to take her to the hospital. –Although we avoided the wait, the ambulance drivers who transported her were drunk, dropped her on the way from her house to the ambulance and stopped en route to the hospital for bananas! IV drips increased her strength, and her drug regimen was changed. Still, every day, Langilihle’s family has to carry her a mile each day to the local clinic for her TB drugs.  We’re optimistic, but she’s not yet out of the woods.

 

A dozen times a month, the health of our children challenges us, and not just because of HIV. This week’s struggle involves Bukhosi, 14 years old. He recently enrolled in Zimkids and we were immediately alarmed by the condition of his knee. It turned out that while home in the rural area when he was 6, he had broken his knee – and received appallingly bad treatment at the local hospital. Pieces of bone remain that has caused infections for the last 8 years. Now, his knee is badly infected again. We took him for an x-ray and Dr Sashka said that we will treat the infections until he is fully grown and then find a surgeon to remove the pieces.  Getting surgery here is very risky and she thinks it is better to wait.

 

Even as we battle to keep everyone healthy, we’re keeping our focus on building the young people in other ways. As I hope you’ve seen from the photographs we’re posting on our Facebook page (search zimkids orphan trust), our pre-school program is thriving almost beyond our wildest dreams. Our program was designed and is run by Samantha Jumira, 18, who has been with Zimkids since she was 10 years old. The local kindergarten teachers were so impressed with the training of the children who “graduated” last year that we had lines of people at our gate looking for places for their kids.

 

We’ve begun the process of certification for a licensed crèche, which means we can charge fees to non-orphans to cover the expenses of our orphans and make the crèche entirely self-supporting. At present we do not charge. We’d already sent Samantha for professional training, and she’s now about to receive her license. Pauline and Sithabisiwe, who’ve been working with Samantha, have started the same training. Our ability to serve the children well is bolstered by the counseling training we arranged for Sithabisiwe, who is about to finish a year-long course taught by European psychologists, the youngest person ever to do so. In fact, all 18 of her classmates, all older than her by a decade or more, quit the course. We’re hoping to open our doors to fee-paying non-orphans in January.

 

We’re getting ready to launch yet another training/income-generating project, a school uniform business. All Zimbabwean children are required to wear uniforms to school, and they’re an enormous financial burden on families. So we’ve sent two of our girls, Lindiwe and Charity, who are competent seamstresses to an advanced tailoring course so that we can produce uniforms below the cost charged in town – and train the younger girls in skills that can sustain them. Our hope is that as each group of girls become competent, we can send them off to open their own small businesses – perhaps with sewing machines because of the generosity of our amazing Texan grandmother Dee!

 

No, we haven’t neglected the vocational training programs we began with the construction of our Center. Colin and Foster, two of the first trainees, are now teaching the younger boys and girls to lay brick, repair equipment and weld. (In fact, one of our sewing trainees, Lindiwe, has just finished welding a new railing at our site!) They will take the lead in the construction of our new sewing building – and, no, Dennis does not need to break his back to help them. In fact, they are now so skilled that the local dealer of solar panels and hot water heaters hires them whenever he has work. “I tried out two other boys, but they just couldn’t cut it,” he told Dennis. “YOUR boys I can just drop off to do installations because they know how to weld, to build, to wire, and to work!”

 

So, even as we struggle with regular medical nightmares and with an economy that has now waned beyond collapse, we’re still bringing joy, education and serious futures to a wonderful group of orphans – because of your help and support.

 

Look forward to our next report, which should include this year’s high school and primary school examination results. Last year, our Zimkids beat the national pass rate by 300 percent – and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for 400 percent this time round!

Langilihle and I to clinic for her daily TB tablet
Langilihle and I to clinic for her daily TB tablet
Pauline teaching computer games to two little ones
Pauline teaching computer games to two little ones
Charity and Lindiwe are ready for sewing class!
Charity and Lindiwe are ready for sewing class!
Ngqabutho training to do plumbing
Ngqabutho training to do plumbing
Multi-talented Lindiwe welding railing
Multi-talented Lindiwe welding railing

Links:

Dec 2, 2013

November/December 2013

Roseline, head of household, responsible for famil
Roseline, head of household, responsible for famil

Zimkids has been thriving and growing – but before providing you the latest details, can we ask a favor? On Dec. 3 beginning at noon east coast time until funds run out  Microsoft will match your donation to Zimkids 100 percent! A Microsoft logo will appear on our project page (below click on URL) if matching funds are available. BUT the closer to twelve the better, and only at THIS site: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/vocational-training-for-200-zimbabwean-orphans/ 

 

Thanks so much.

 

In these updates, we thought that we should tell you a bit about the challenges we face, and we’ve dealt with a particularly difficult one over recent months. In July, one of our caregivers, 76 year-old Linah Ndlovu, fell ill. Linah cared for eight orphans, her grandchildren, between the ages of 1 and 16, and managed to keep them in school by cleaning for neighbors and school authorities. We worried, then, not just about her but also about all those children. So Tinashe spent days ferrying her back and forth to the hospital and breaking through the bureaucracy there to make sure she didn’t languish. Despite our best efforts, however, Linah died in mid-September. In Zimbabwe, proper funerals and burials are important, and Phillip and Tinashe made sure that Linah’s did her justice. They drove the Zimkids car carrying her coffin from the funeral parlor to Linah’s home, and spent the night with the children and neighbors to pay their final respects, leading the group in an all-night round of traditional African drumming and dancing. The next day, they drove the family to the cemetery and dug the grave in which Linah was buried. Ever since, we’ve been working 14 year old Roseline who now heads the family to make sure that her brother, sister and cousins ages 8 to 1 are cared for, fed and remain in school.

 

That’s one part of what Zimkids is about.

 

The other part, of course, is about the positive changes we are making in the lives of the children we serve, and we’re seeing it most vividly these days with our newest Zimkids, the 50 three-to-seven olds in the pre-school program we began last year. They include Nokuthula Mpofu, age 4, whose parents both died of AIDS.  She lives with her grandmother and seven other family members in three rooms. Since the grandmother is frequently ill and has no source of income, Nokuthula depends on the preschool feeding program for regular nutrition. Or Wayne Ncube, whose father died and whose mother abandoned him on the doorstep of an aunt when he was three months old. Mentally ill, the aunt can barely feed herself, not to mention Wayne. Or Lotrica Ngwenya, 6, born HIV positive. She lives with an aunt none too happy to have been left with the burden of a sick child after her parents died.

 

We just had our first “graduation” of our pre-school kids, complete with graduation robes (required by government) and the children are thriving: eating at the Centre daily, mastering computer games, and learning to read and write.

 

The rains have come so we planted our field. We bought more seeds to add to our garden and with the raining season around we have to start working on the outside garden. We planted carrots, cucumbers, chomolia (kale), green pepper and onions. Some of the seeds were put straight in the greenhouse while some of them were put in the nursery beds outside the greenhouse and will be transplanted as soon as they are seedlings.

 

The vocational training programs for the older children are moving along well, and our oldest children, who are awaiting the results of their high school exams, are working hard to master new skills. We’re hoping to find the money for some added space in order to begin a sewing program which will also generate income for us and for the young people we train through the sale of school uniform skirts made by our kids and priced affordably.

 

Finally, Tinashe, our director, just spent two months in the U.S., his first trip to America, and we had an amazing few weeks traveling across America thanks to our accumulated frequent flyer miles and the generous hosts around the country to thank many of you for your support, making new friends, and establishing relationships with new schools. The latter is important not just or fundraising but because the Skype conferences between our Zimbabwean children and their American counterparts are so important to awareness and understanding on both sides.

 

We end yet another year, then, with our hearts full of gratitude to our supporters and our amazing kids.

 

Happy holidays!

Wayne lives with neighbor when aunt disappears
Wayne lives with neighbor when aunt disappears
Professor, actual name, is ready for 1st grade
Professor, actual name, is ready for 1st grade
Lotrica is not quite sure of this outfit!
Lotrica is not quite sure of this outfit!
Director Tinashe with 1st grade Town Sch, San Fran
Director Tinashe with 1st grade Town Sch, San Fran
Preparing for TV interview about ZImkids in Alaska
Preparing for TV interview about ZImkids in Alaska

Links:

Dec 1, 2013

November/December 2013

Bridget now head of household caring for 6 orphans
Bridget now head of household caring for 6 orphans

Zimkids has been thriving and growing – but before providing you the latest details, can we ask a favor? On Dec. 3 beginning at noon east coast time until funds run out  Microsoft will match your donation to Zimkids 100 percent! A Microsoft logo will appear on our project page (below click on URL) if matching funds are available. BUT the closer to twelve the better, and only at THIS site: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/vocational-training-for-200-zimbabwean-orphans/ 

Thanks so much.

 In these updates, we thought that we should tell you a bit about the challenges we face, and we’ve dealt with a particularly difficult one over recent months. In July, one of our caregivers, 76 year-old Linah , fell ill. Linah cared for eight orphans, her grandchildren, between the ages of 1 and 16, and managed to keep them in school by cleaning for neighbors and school authorities. We worried, then, not just about her but also about all those children. So Tinashe spent days ferrying her back and forth to the hospital and breaking through the bureaucracy there to make sure she didn’t languish. Despite our best efforts, however, Linah died in mid-September. In Zimbabwe, proper funerals and burials are important, and Phillip and Tinashe made sure that Linah’s did her justice. They drove the Zimkids car carrying her coffin from the funeral parlor to Linah’s home, and spent the night with the children and neighbors to pay their final respects, leading the group in an all-night round of traditional African drumming and dancing. The next day, they drove the family to the cemetery and dug the grave in which Linah was buried. Ever since, we’ve been working 14 year old Roseline who now heads the family to make sure that her brother, sister and cousins ages 8 to 1 are cared for, fed and remain in school.

 That’s one part of what Zimkids is about.

 The other part, of course, is about the positive changes we are making in the lives of the children we serve, and we’re seeing it most vividly these days with our newest Zimkids, the 50 three-to-seven olds in the pre-school program we began last year. They include Nokuthula , age 4, whose parents both died of AIDS.  She lives with her grandmother and seven other family members in three rooms. Since the grandmother is frequently ill and has no source of income, Nokuthula depends on the preschool feeding program for regular nutrition. Or Wayne , whose father died and whose mother abandoned him on the doorstep of an aunt when he was three months old. Mentally ill, the aunt can barely feed herself, not to mention Wayne. Or Lotrica , 6, born HIV positive. She lives with an aunt none too happy to have been left with the burden of a sick child after her parents died.

 We just had our first “graduation” of our pre-school kids, complete with graduation robes (required by government) and the children are thriving: eating at the Centre daily, mastering computer games, and learning to read and write. We don't have a group shot because we rented one cap and gown for all of our kids.

 The vocational training programs for the older children are moving along well, and our oldest children, who are awaiting the results of their high school exams, are working hard to master new skills. We’re hoping to find the money for some added space in order to begin a sewing program which will also generate income for us and for the young people we train through the sale of school uniform skirts made by our kids and priced affordably. 

Shawn is sharpening his carpentry skills
Shawn is sharpening his carpentry skills
Wayne is a tad bewildered at his new outfit!
Wayne is a tad bewildered at his new outfit!
Blessing seemed scared of the camera!
Blessing seemed scared of the camera!
Our Elders constructing a bookcase
Our Elders constructing a bookcase
Working on a bench
Working on a bench

Links:

 

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