As you might have noticed, we updated our project page to reflect the new reality that is Zimkids, happily and productively operating out of its fantastic new home. We’ve entered a whole new era – thanks to so many of you. You can see the project in a 2 minute slideshow by clicking here . Now that we have land, along with a greenhouse and drip irrigation system, we can produce much of the food the orphans we serve require – along with training in modern agricultural techniques using little water or fertilizer. Our goal, after all, has never been to foster dependency. So while we will continue to provide them with staple foods, we are encouraging them to work with our staff to grow the vegetables and – later -fruit that will add such critical nutrition to their starch- heavy diet. Our donations for kale will be used for seed or soy protein. We are ending beef distribution because meat inspection is now untrustworthy because of corruption.
We’ve been able to improve our educational programs substantially. So now, in addition to paying school fees, we will be offering tutoring in our own resource center, a library and a fantastic computer center that will allow the children to enter the 21st century in style. Our old Council of Elders, who “graduated” into Seniors, and who built our center and who will now be referred to as Staff will receive ongoing training in first aid, counseling, management, accounts which in a year’s time they will pass on to our next generation of Seniors.
Our staff members are receiving basic first aid and minor medical training so that they can work with our physician.
We’re also expanding the on-the-job vocational training we gave to the Seniors with training in metalwork (take a look at the phenomenal metal shields that hold up our computer desks – we’re already offering similar ones for sale!) And our center is entirely powered by solar!
With our new space, we have been able to broaden our recreational activities to include netball, which is popular with the girls, an obstacle course which under the guidance of Foster Dingani, one of our exceptional Seniors, will build the obstacle course as a carpentry training program for the older children, and board games for rainy days, in addition to our old programs in performing arts, visual arts, and soccer. If you take a peak at the slide show you will see the murals on the walls that surround the Center, you’ll see the work of our amazing new art teacher, Shaka, who is currently working with the children to design and paint murals on the inside of the walls.
One day of the week is being devoted to our caregivers, and the list of coming programs is mindboggling. Zimbabweans have very little knowledge of basic medicine so find it difficult to know whether or not a minor problem might be serious. Our doctor has designed workshops to help them in that regard. A local attorney has volunteered her services as well, and her advice is critical to the elderly caregivers, especially women, who are frequently kicked out of their homes when their husbands die because of Zimbabwe’s complicated inheritance laws. So the lawyer will both consult with individuals and help them make plans to avoid such difficulties. The program that has them most excited at the moment is computer training since they have not been taught that you’re never too old to learn. Tinashe, then, is teaching them to hunt and peck – and they’ll soon be online.
Finally, we’re making a serious push on special training for our girls, who are growing up in a society where rape is endemic, families press for early marriage to gain access to cash (since the husband needs to pay for the privilege of marriage), sanitary napkins are expensive, and obedience is prized. Two of our trainees who built the new center are young women, and they are taking the lead in designing programs to help teach the younger women and girls the lesson that they have learned about protecting themselves, the value of saying NO, and standing up for their rights. They will be bolstered by a nurse who will teach them about family planning and reproductive health.
You can visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/zimkids or our website, currently being updated to see photos of the project. Our website is currently being updated.
I’m exhausted – both from the whirlwind of activity around the building and opening of the center and from laying out what we’re doing. Stay tuned, please. We have already been widely recognized as one of the most innovative orphan projects in Africa, and we’re just getting going to show what can be accomplished by a center built by orphans and run by orphans for orphans.
I am in the States until I return to Zimbabwe in December and have lots of frequent flyer miles if you or your organization would like to host Zimkids for fundraising events. Wherever possible we can set up skype video conferences with our kids and yours bridging the miles and bringing the smiles to opposite sides of the globe!
We have an actual clinic that we’re currently trying to stock. One of our staff members – a former beneficiary – is receiving basic first aid and minor medical training so that she can work with our physician.