Kids hold up their new solar lights and xmas gifts
Since our last update, Zara’s Center has continued to serve children with life-saving services. Below are some of our major accomplishments from 2021 and an exciting update for 2022.
- In 2021, Zara's Center served over 20,000 home cooked meals when the Center was open for take away or in-person meals.
- During COVID closures, Zara's Center distributed monthly food hampers, containing:
- 11,819 lbs of Maize Meal
- 283 gallons of Cooking Oil
- 590 lbs of Dry Beans
- 2,364 lbs of Sugar
- 590 lbs of Soy Protein
- 2,364 lbs of Rice
- In a country where only 4% of young children are receiving a minimum acceptable diet [UNICEF], we are pleased to report that 98.5% of our kids are at a healthy weight. Those who are underweight are being closely monitored.
Access to both traditional and new modes of learning is critical for our children. With over 2,000 books in our lending library, new computers, and our job readiness programs, we are working to cover all of our bases, even during these challenging times.
- To mitigate lost learning due to covid school closures, we purchased 50 chromebooks, 150+ new library books, and 125 solar lights (for the kids to use at home). The resources arrived in December and have already been put to good use.
- Our computer instructor has begun working with small groups of children to make sure everyone knows how to use the new chromebooks. Students have begun using the chromebooks for academic review and for school projects.
- The solar lights were distributed to every child with their Christmas gifts and holiday groceries. We have already heard from a caregiver who expressed her gratitude for the new solar light. The family has no electricity at home, and she shared that the light allows the children to do their homework more easily and the family to enjoy quality time in the evenings after dark.
- School Fees
- The Center paid school fees for all children and exam fee costs for young adults and alumni (during trimesters when schools were in session).
- We are currently supporting five alumni who are attending university by providing 100% tuition and transportation coverage. In Zimbabwe, less than 1% of the poorest young people achieve higher education.
- We are proud that two of our alumni, Peacemaker and Ayama, graduated from university in November. Ayama graduated with a first class degree in Quantity Surveying and Peacemaker with a honors degree in Finance. Both Ayama and Peacemaker have already found employment.
Physical and Mental Health Support
Zara’s team forges connections with our children’s caregivers and also identifies community partners that generously share life-protecting resources. We're proud to report that:
- Staff conducted regular home visits throughout 2021 to ensure the children’s well-being. Home visits were especially important during COVID closures in order to maintain open communication with children and their caregivers.
- Zara's Center provided annual medical check-ups for each child through a partnership with a local doctor.
Looking Forward: Our Expansion
We are excited to share that we are expanding in order to serve more children and to become agriculturally sustainable.
- In March 2020, we began a partnership with Krueck Sexton Partners (KSP), a US-based architecture firm that has worked on incredible projects around the world. KSP is generously providing their design services on a pro bono basis. We are incredibly honored and grateful to partner with such an accomplished and talented team for our expansion.
- KSP has created beautiful designs (see renderings below) for our forthcoming chicken coops and a new 200 sq ft. building. Construction on this phase is expected to begin later this year.In all, the five-acre site will eventually provide capacity for two hundred children total and will contain orchards, gardens, playing fields, vocational resources, classrooms, and community spaces. It is designed to be sustainable, operating off-the-grid, and relying on local materials and construction labor.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about just a few of our accomplishments over the past year. We are endlessly grateful for the support of our donors around the world - and could not do any of this without you.
On behalf of the children and families we serve, thank you for your support.
The college grads at Zara's year-end celebration.
Artist's rendering of our forthcoming building
Artist's rendering of our forthcoming building (2)
Kids admiring their fully sprouted garden crops
Kids learning to use the new chrome books