At Zimkids, we take youth empowerment seriously. Thus, most of our staff is composed of former members of our Council of Elders (beneficiaries 14–18-years-old). In the course of their involvement with Zimkids, they’ve all learned to construct a building, weld, operate computers, plan, organize and issue reports. They each received additional training, diplomas and certificates in an area of specialty that mesh with their individual interests and meet the needs of Zimkids. As staff, they are responsible for the planning, organization, scheduling and direction of all our programs including tutoring, preschool, welding, sewing, construction, gardening, plumbing, choir, dancing, drama, sports and chess, games and art. They also operate our preschool.
SITHABISIWE NGWENYA, born in 1993, joined Zimkids at the age of 14, four years after the death of her father. As Sithabisiwe matured, Zimkids made her a member of the Council of Elders and she oversaw activities for our younger children. After her mother died in 2010 and she became responsible for her two younger brothers. Zimkids paid for all of their school fees. When she finished school, Sithabisiwe joined Zimkids’ first building crew, digging foundations, laying brick, mixing cement, plastering, and welding. “Where I grew up it was believed that such duties were for boys” she says. But she soon discovered she could push cement-filled wheelbarrows as well as any man. Once the center was completed, she begin working with the children, listening to their stories, trying to help with their difficulties. Zimkids sent her to a First Aid course so she could treat their minor cuts and scrapes, and then to a formal course in Counseling. In 2015, she began working towards certification in Early Childhood Development which will be completed at the end of 2015.
Born in 1995. NKOSIKHONA MOYO lost his father two months after he was born and was raised by his grandmother, who sold tomatoes and vegetables by the side of the road to feed him. He joined Zimkids at the age of 11. “My life changed because Zimkids provided groceries monthly to me and my granny,” he recalls. Nkosi joined the Council of Elders at a hectic moment, when the eldest Zimkids were working on the construction of the Center. He and Samantha, then, stepped in to supervise the activities of the younger children. Over time, Nkosi learned to weld, lay brick and paint, but his real love was for the computers to which he finally had access. He now runs the Tech center, organizing the computer training curriculum and teaching orphans from 3 to 19 years of age. “Zimkids has groomed me to be who I am today and I have learned to love and care for everyone around me,” he says. “Zimkids is a safe haven and a family.”
Born in 1995. SAMANTHA JUMEIRA lost her father a year later to a motorbike accident. Raised primarily by her grandmother, she joined Zimkids when she was in the fourth grade. She was too young to participate in the construction of the center, however, as a member of the Council of Elders, she was a one of the 25-orphan crew that constructed Zimkids’ sewing center. After she finished school, she quickly volunteered to develop the pre-school program Zimkids had proposed to bring in children under the age of six. Zimkids sent her to special course, where she earned a diploma in Early Childhood Education. She now develops our curriculum, supervises assistants and oversees all aspects of the running of our pre-school. “To be able to give a small child a good beginning in life is my dream,” Samantha says. “Zimkids took care of me and now it is my goal to help others as I have been helped.”
Born in 1997, NGQABUTHO NGWENYA, Sithabisiwe’s younger brother, joined Zimkids in 2006, when he was just 9 years old. After his mother’s death, he was raised by Sithabisiwe. “I grew up doing a lot of activities at Zimkids, like sports, drama, choir and art,” he recalls. Gradually, he learned to weld, build from the ground up, write reports on computers and even sew. After formal training sponsored by Zimkids, Ngqabutho became our plumber and electrician – and pitches in by overseeing our greenhouse and the maintenance of our drip irrigation system. He also works with two Zimkids graduates, who have their own solar installation business. “When I was younger I dreamed of being an electrician and the dream came true because of Zimkids,” he says. “Zimkids gave the skills, the confidence and the training to succeed in life.”
Born in 1997, ESTHER MASHAPA lost her father when she was six and her mother when she was 13. She lived with her grandmother, who also raised Esther’s younger brother and two cousins. She joined Zimkids when she was 11 years old. “When my mother passed away, l faced real challenges,” she says. “l was left with my granny and we suffered a lot. But when l joined Zimkids, my situation changed. They gave us food to eat and love.” Esther has been trained in welding, computers and cooking. She now runs the Zimkids’ kitchen.
ANGELINE HLAZO was born in 1997 and joined Zimkids when she was 12 years old, just after the death of her father. She was then raised by an aunt and uncle, along with her brother and sister, and five cousins. “I always loved to go to Zimkids because there were lots of activities I really loved,” she recalls. “And I am proud of Zimkids because I have learn skills there like building, welding, and painting. She is now a preschool assistant and also prepares the meals for our youngest children
STAFF IN TRAINING
Born in 1995, PETER JACKSON SAMUEL lost his father when he was 11 years old and was raised by his mother in a 9’x9’ rented room with no water or electricity that also housed his younger sister and two nieces. Their mother sold firewood she collected from the bush to make money to feed them. Zimkids, which he joined at the age of 13, helped out by providing Peter with food baskets and paying his school fees. We then sent him to a training program in welding and boilermaking. “Because of Zimkids I’m now a better person,” Peter says.
THAMANI NYATHI, preschool teacher-trainee, was raised by her grandmother after her father died and her mother disappeared. Trained as a nursing aide, she is working toward her certification as a preschool teacher. She was also part of the crew that build the Zimkids sewing center.
SHAUN NDLOVU was born in 1996 in a tiny village with no electricity. When his father died in 2003, he and his mother went to live with his grandmother in the city. “We were so poor that l didn’t even go to school until l joined Zimkids when I was 12 years old,” he remembers. “Zimkids helped us to have food on the table and in paying our school fees.” As a member of the Council of Elders, Shaun worked with the younger children and then learned to weld and build. When he finished school, we sent him to a course in auto repair. “I give all thanks to God and Zimkids for helping me a lot in life,” Shaun says. “Now l know how to think and be responsible. Zimkids taught me many skills that no one else was able to teach.”
ZIBUSISO NGWENYA was born 1996 and joined Zimkids when he was 10 years old, shortly after the death of his mother. He lived with his grandmother, aunt and uncle and their three children. His uncle brought in money by carving bone into salt and pepper shakers and his aunt by selling tomatoes. “In 2009 I got very sick,” he recalls. “I lost the use of my legs and could not talk for three months.” Zimkids took good care of me and the food baskets Zimkids provided saved my family.” Already trained in welding, Zibusiso learned electrical wiring at a course paid for by Zimkids. “From what I have learned at Zimkids, I could build my own house!” he says with pride.
PHILIP MUDOYI, who holds diplomas in counseling, social work, education and child care, began working with vulnerable children at the age of 16 as a volunteer. After finishing his schooling, he took a job at Masiye Camp, a sort of Outward Bound program for children run by the Salvation Army, where he served as an activity coordinator, counselor and programmer. Philip then moved into the classroom as a math and accounting teacher before accepting a position as outreach coordinator for a small orphan center in Nketa. In 2009, he moved to South Africa, where he trained and supervised child care workers in a home for troubled youth. Three years later, Zimkids lured him back to Zimbabwe to serve as our Program Director. Philip is picking up the mantle of his mother, Rosemary Mudoyi, one of Bulawayo’s most prominent advocates for the needs of vulnerable youth.
TINASHE BASA, Director, grew up hard, dumped by his mother with relatives in a rural area at the age of two, sick for a full year when he was five because of malnutrition, and pulled out of school at the age of 15 and sent to work in the tobacco fields. Nonetheless, he managed to put himself through the rest of secondary school by his own efforts and reached out to volunteer at the orphan project Dennis developed in Nketa in 2007.