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 and teaches in our preschool.
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. 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 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.”
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
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. He currently runs Zimkids’ art programs.
THAMANI NYATHI was raised by her grandmother after her father died and her mother disappeared. Trained as a nursing aide, she then worked toward her certification as a preschool teacher. She was part of the crew that build the Zimkids sewing center and now teachers in our preschool.
STAFF IN TRAINING
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.