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.
Dec 29, 2014

What a year for our girls!

Thamani and Hloniphile in their nurse aide uniform
Thamani and Hloniphile in their nurse aide uniform

Our older girls are soaring – and we are unabashedly proud of their achievements. Thamani and Hloniphile have just finished a course that led to their certification as nurses’ aides – and they will begin working at the central hospital in January. They are certainly the only nurse aides who can also weld, lay brick and build shelves!

Sithabisiwe finished her training and is now a certified counselor. She was the youngest in her class - and the only one in her class to have completed the year long course. Samantha, who runs our preschool, also defied age barriers, receiving her certification as an early childhood educator at age 19. Pauline, who finished her Advanced Level high school diploma thanks to the financial support of Zimkids, also completed her early childhood course.  

Our girls continue learning to weld, lay brick and block, plaster and paint as part of our construction skills training, and we plan to keep our cohort of recent high school graduates busy with hands-on training as we break ground for the preschool classroom we are about to build.

Not all of our plans go entirely smoothly, and the details demonstrate some of the challenges we face. Several years ago, we conceived the idea of a sewing center that would both train some of our older young people and provide income to Zimkids through the construction and sale of school uniforms. Unfortunately, the two girls chosen to lead the effort, who we sent for courses in sewing, cutting and patternmaking, proved too passive to launch the project, and one of their caregivers tried to insert herself into the activity. We’re currently looking for the right girls to replace them, but we realized how much more effort we need to put into helping these young people to be proactive and to think outside of the box.

I should end with a special New Year Shout-out to all of our amazing donors. We have now received financial assistance from more than 2,000 of you, and without that help, we could never have gotten that far. Consider that the group of we think of as our Texas gogos (grandmothers) made over 200 quilts and bought new underwear for our kids, as well as furnishing the sewing center with sewing and overlock machines, along with thread, scissors, fabric and patterns. A group of young people in Plano, Texas made 50 fleece blankets for our preschoolers. The Buckner Foundation gave Zimkids shoes for all our kids. And our wonderfully generous friends from the P&G alumni network have, time and again, provided us with the funds necessary to build the structures we need for our vocational projects.

We end 2014 optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction because every day we see our children growing stronger, in body and in spirit. We at Zimkids wish you the happiest of new years with bottomless gratitude for making ours so bright.

Sithabisiwe receives her diploma in counseling
Sithabisiwe receives her diploma in counseling
Washie, Samantha and Sithabisiwe with graduates
Washie, Samantha and Sithabisiwe with graduates
Our girls made shoe racks for a client
Our girls made shoe racks for a client
The Sewing Center and its builders
The Sewing Center and its builders
Blankets from our Texas Gogos!
Blankets from our Texas Gogos!

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Dec 28, 2014

What a year!!!

Foster & Collen installing our solar panels
Foster & Collen installing our solar panels

In a country with 94 percent unemployment, every group that works with orphans is dogged by the problem of developing an “exit strategy” for their young charges – and few have succeeded. Zimkids is thus particularly proud that we are not only family, friend and confidante to the young people who have been with us from the beginning and are now finishing high school, but that we have developed programs to train them to open their own businesses and/or in skills that will appeal to the few employers left in the country.

This year alone, a total of eleven people received professional training this year from Zimkids, and we hope that they will follow in the footsteps of Foster and Collen, who received their first training with us in construction and welding and now have entered the workforce installing solar panels and solar hot water heaters for a major company. That’s no small achievement when 40-year-olds with two decades of experience are begging for work! Also, Thamani and Hloniphile have just finished a course that led to their certification as nurses’ aides – and they will begin working at the central hospital in January.

We sent both Ngqabutho and Zibusiso for training in electrical wiring, and Ngqabutho is about to begin an advanced course, as he will be replacing Foster in maintaining our solar array and electrical infrastructure. He also was trained in plumbing under the guidance of certified plumbers. Even our staff is getting in on the act, with Phillip working on a diploma that will give him a license in social work.

Our welding program continues to thrive and 20 new young people are about to start construction training as part of the construction of a new building for our pre-school. The preschool has proven to be one of our most successful programs, and after our first class “graduated,” neighborhood parents were lining up at our gates requesting places for their children. We realized, then, that we could move toward self-sufficiency by becoming a licensed preschool that would charge non-orphans while accommodating orphans for free. We then sent two of our girls for training and certification as early childhood educators. And we will open both as an independent preschool in January 2016 – and as a certified training center for preschool teachers.

 The building will be constructed, as have ALL our buildings, by vocational trainees. At the beginning of this year, Foster and Collen led the seniors and elders on the construction of our sewing center, which took only one month to complete. New builders emerged from this project and both girls and boys worked tirelessly to ensure that the sewing center was finished on time even as they gained practical building skills.

A vital part of our vocational training is to teach our older kids to pay it forward by helping other younger children. Several months ago, our staff and a group of our Seniors – our oldest Zimkids – went a step further by establishing an outreach program to orphans in a crude settlement for displaced families called Methodist 7 miles from our center in the bush. Sithabisiwe, Nkosikhona, Ngqabutho and Samantha have given their all in trying to help the kids from Methodist, and the outreach program has strengthened everyone’s abilities in communication, teamwork, and planning. We recently distributed shoes to our outreach kids courtesy of the Buckner Foundation.

 I should end with a special New Year Shout-out to all of our amazing donors. We have now received financial assistance from more than 2,000 of you, and without that help, we could never have gotten that far. Consider that the group we think of as our Texas gogos (grandmothers) made over 200 quilts and bought new underwear for our kids, as well as furnishing the sewing center with sewing and overlock machines, along with thread, scissors, fabric and patterns. A group of young people in Plano, Texas made 50 fleece blankets for our preschoolers. The Buckner Foundation gave Zimkids shoes for all our kids. And our wonderfully generous friends from the P&G alumni network have, time and again, provided us with the funds necessary to build the structures we need for our vocational projects.

We end 2014 optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction because every day we see our children growing stronger, in body and in spirit. We at Zimkids wish you the happiest of new years with bottomless gratitude for making ours so bright.

Ngqabutho and Zibusiso with new shelf they built
Ngqabutho and Zibusiso with new shelf they built
Washie, Samantha and Sithabisiwe with graduates
Washie, Samantha and Sithabisiwe with graduates
Distributing shoes to our outreach kids
Distributing shoes to our outreach kids
We meet with caregivers in Methodist settlement
We meet with caregivers in Methodist settlement
Thamani and Hloniphile in their nurse aide uniform
Thamani and Hloniphile in their nurse aide uniform

Links:

Dec 11, 2014

Zimkids Elders volunteer to help other orphans!.

Our outreach kids joined us after school.
Our outreach kids joined us after school.

Thank you to all our supporters for making Zimkids a true success story.  Happy holidays to all.

Zimkids’ latest program is taking our young people 7 miles from our center and a world away, beyond the edge of the city into a small settlement of crude shacks, without water or electricity, into a world where children’s prospects are even dimmer than they are in Pumula, where we operate. 70 percent of the children in the community are orphans; most of the teenage girls already have two or more kids, usually by two or more fathers. So babies are raising babies.

 For our older kids, going to Methodist, as the community is called, is giving back, taking their days off to transfer the skills they’ve acquired at Zimkids, bringing joy and knowledge where there is so little. We tried something similar several years back with the families squatting at the dumpsite, but it was simply too far away – and our older kids did not yet have the initiative. That has changed now, and our seniors and alumni are doing an amazing job at Methodist – and we hope to find the money for a vehicle that will allow this to become a formal Zimkids program.

 Meanwhile, back at the Center, we’re gearing up for a whole new cohort of kids to enter our vocational training program and become leaders in our outreach effort at Methodist. They just sat their O-level examinations (following the traditional British system, Zimbabwe has two levels of high school, Ordinary and Advanced level, with the latter being primary for those oriented toward university education.) Results will not be out until February, but we expect that most of our young people will not pass since they received little education during primary school, a time when teachers were on strike for several years. Usually, our pass rate is well above the national average, but that’s not saying much since, nationally, only 1 in 5 children pass their exams.

 So we’re bringing in supplies for welding and sewing, construction and carpentry – and Samantha is looking forward to extra help in the preschool, where she’ll be training childcare workers.

 Our littlest Zimkids celebrated their graduation in late November, and they are more than ready for Grade 1. They not only know the alphabet and basic numbers, taken their first steps toward mastering computers, and have been awash in the books generous donors have been sending their way. While they’re been with us, they’ve been well-nourished, thanks to our feeding program and our abundant garden; well-dressed because of donations of shoes from the Buckner Foundation; and warm because of the Texas grandmothers, who keep making them amazing blankets.

 Once they’re in school, we won’t lose track of them, of course, since they’ll be back at “home” with us on weekends and over school holidays.

Nkosi introduces computer to kids at outreach
Nkosi introduces computer to kids at outreach
Samantha on day off works with our newest Zimkids
Samantha on day off works with our newest Zimkids
Some of our little ones at outreach
Some of our little ones at outreach
Our Graduates!!!
Our Graduates!!!

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