Cleaning the land of trash
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 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 – from chess to traditional dance and choir - with the younger kids 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 have not only been laying brick and pouring concrete; they’ve 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.
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 in caring for their families, their community, their environment, and their nation’s future.
senior girls moving block for wall
Zimkids New Council of Elders
Senior Foster Dingane learned to lay brick