CHILD PROTECTION WEEK
- 3/6/2014 <--Prev : Next-->
June 1 to June 8 is officially Child Protection Week 2014 and Zimbabwe can safely say that we take care of our children incredibly well.
There are numerous Children's' Homes in Zimbabwe looking after our little people but it would appear that there are never enough.
With the HIVAIDS pandemic that ravaged the country prior to 2008 and 2009 so many little people were orphaned but thanks to the amazing international and local communities, most of these young people now have shelter.
Thinking about the Bulawayo Child Care lets start with Ethandweni Children's Home. Ethandweni is a community-based orphanage providing care for children with no family or other support. The word Ethandweni means 'place of love' in Ndebele.
The Children's Home was opened in 1997. It has had funding and support from the Sai Baba Organisation, Danida and Danish Red Cross, amongst others.
Now fully operational, they can house a maximum of 36 children (from a few months old to 19 years), and have 12 local staff from nearby villages.
Their children attend local government schools, while 70 local children attend the Ethandweni pre-school, where a supplementary feeding programme is provided. These links ensure that their children maintain close ties with their local community.
Ethandweni brings up it's children in a caring, holistic, homely, spiritually based environment, aiming to bring out their fullest potential. The Home is also designed to have minimal environmental needs and impact.
Another home is Non-Profit Organization Emthunzini Wethemba Children's home, which houses orphans, and other vulnerable children ranging from the ages of 4 to 18 years.
Imagine 65 children, all orphans, living under one roof. Now imagine that 95% of those who are eligible for school attend classes every single day and that all 65 of them are clothed, fed, and cared for by only a few dedicated community members. This is Emthunzini Wethemba, an orphanage in Mzilikazi Township that can't even afford to pay all of its employees. The chief administrator is retained on a volunteer basis, and all of the employees care for the children as if they were their own. This is the reality of Zimbabwe: AIDS orphans have become Zimbabwe's children because too many of Zimbabwe's children have become AIDS orphans.
The children who live at Emthunzini Wethemba, which translates as 'Shelter of Hope,' come to the home from Bulawayo's social welfare department, from the streets of Bulawayo, or from the Mpilo Hospital Opportunistic Infections clinic when the hospital learns that a child has lost his or her parents or caregivers to AIDS. Therefore, many of the 65 children have spent time on the streets or are AIDS orphans, and 6 of them are HIV-positive through vertical transmission.
And then there is the SOS Children's' Village on the Victoria Falls Road in Bulawayo which for so many years has been badly affected by Zimbabwe's crippling economic crisis. High unemployment, combined with widespread poverty, has led to appalling living conditions. Today, the situation is compounded by a drinking-water crisis, rising joblessness and subsequently poverty has risen since the economic crisis took off in the late 1990s. Unemployment has played a key role in this. Today, some places face joblessness levels of 80%, with nearly two-thirds living in poverty. A lack of investment in infrastructure and key services means families often have little support, with resources such as hospitals and schools out of reach for many.
Some of the children from the SOS Children's' Home were found growing up in the landfill dumps - on the big tips on the city's edges, where youngsters can often be seen scavenging for waste they can use or sell.
SOS Children has been helping families throughout Bulawayo since 1995 and the Village offers lifelong care for the most vulnerable children and those who have lost parental care.
Each child lives in an SOS family under the care of an SOS Mother. They benefit from the best education at the nursery and primary school, where they learn alongside children from the most vulnerable families in the neighbourhood. The Village supports them right through to adulthood, providing long-term support as they make the challenging transition to independence.
Next in Child Protection Week we move to the Sandra Jones Centre, which is a home for orphans and abandoned babies and children in crisis. They have been operating for over 10 years and over 900 children have passed through their care. They currently have over 70 children in their care and the numbers are increasing almost daily.
Statistics show that in Zimbabwe, thousands of children will spend the night in fear of abuse, sexual molestation by family members or relatives, while others will be selling their bodies in forced prostitution. One in every three girls in Zimbabwe will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18.
The Sandra Jones mission statement is: 'To restore babies, children and youth of Bulawayo to a state of physical, emotional and spiritual well being, sufficient for them to proceed/return to a normal, well adjusted lifestyle, preferably within the framework of their family and/or social structure.'
They plan to provide a home, love, hope and care to abandoned/unwanted children until they can secure a new home through adoption or they reach adulthood
They then facilitate the adoption of these children into loving, committed families and they provide a refuge for girls-in-crisis or those pregnant as a result of rape and/or incest and they also endeavor to equip these children and girls with a wide range of skills to enable them to do well upon graduating from the home into a formal environment
Also in Bulawayo are Isaiah's Homes of Love
These homes were established to assist abandoned babies, orphans and children in desperate need of care. Since 2007 they have cared for 70 babies/children, with 11 fostered to be adopted by loving families, 19 placed into 'forever family homes', 11 reunited with their extended families, and unfortunately 3 of their babies have passed away.
They have a babies home for abandoned babies where they are lovingly cared for and they help to facilitate fostering and adoption, and 'forever homes' where abandoned and orphaned children are cared for in a family
In the last few years, the number of abandoned babies in Bulawayo appears to have grown. This, combined with the growing number of orphans in Zimbabwe, meant that the traditional approaches of extended families caring for these individuals, or them being placed in an orphanage, could not cope with the demands.
There are also many wonderful folk in the eastern suburbs of Bulawayo who, with little or no funding, little or no infrastructure, care for our orphans, people like Betty Chiwambo, who single handedly cares for and nurtures around forty children who have lost their parents to disease. The children live with their extended families, an amazing and admirable Zimbabwean custom, and they meet daily with Betty who finds school fees, food and occupation for these sad little people.
I am sure I have missed out many good folk who care for OUR KIDS in Bulawayo and for this I humbly apologize.
If you would care for an e-mail address or a website for any of these wonderful institutions please e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.