The location: Our project is located on a large property in the village of Chivare, Musana, approximately 45 minutes from downtown Harare, Zimbabwe. The surrounding area is severely impoverished, and the population consists mostly of subsistence farmers. A large percentage of the children in the area are orphaned and living in child-headed households or with relatives/neighbours.
There are no services in the immediate area, especially for children. For instance, the nearest (poorly equipped) clinics are between 10 – 15 km away, which is much too far to walk for almost anyone. Primary schools are a 45 – 90 minute walk for the children, while secondary schools are a 1 – 1 ! hour walk – and these do not have the best reputation in terms of standards of education. The nearest shops are a 45 walk, while the police and social services are at least a 15 - 30 minute drive (and very few people own a car in Musana). There are no community centres or recreational facilities in the area, and no one providing any sort of services to orphans or vulnerable children within a 10-km radius of our project.
The current status of the project: The Musana feeding and activity program started with the blessing of the community and local leadership, and continues to have their full support to this day. We initially cleared a field for activities, bought some basic cooking pots/utensils/plates/cups, recruited local volunteers, and purchased some basic recreational equipment (soccer balls, skipping ropes, hula hoops, etc.). Our average weekly attendance started at 60 - 75 children, but soon increased to between 100 - 150 children, and we have been able to expand our feeding program to five times per week. In addition, we built a large multi-purpose shelter for classes, training, programs, meetings, and protection from the rain/sun during the feeding times.
We also have a sponsorship program for the poorest children which includes food supplements, school uniforms/fees, and basic medical care as needed. Practical assistance is provided in terms of the use of activities to facilitate emotional healing; life skills training; teen groups dealing with poverty, trauma, abuse, sexuality and HIV/AIDS prevention and peer support. On Saturdays, LGTH runs Kidz Kamp with singing and dance, age-appropriate bible stories and life application, games, activities and food. We currently work with over 200 children from over 80 families from 13 villages in the surrounding area.
The focus: Our primary focus is to provide services to orphans and vulnerable children, especially the most needy and underprivileged, which are usually child-headed households (i.e. homes with no adult members). However, we really want to help the most vulnerable, whatever their situation, and are therefore open to providing help to any orphans or other vulnerable children on a case-by-case basis. Our long-term goal is to have these children living as fully-functioning adults and citizens making a significant contribution to their community.
The future: Let’s Give them Hope wishes to meet the ever increasing needs by:
1) increasing solar electricity in the program site
2) building staff housing
3) developing a vocational school i.e. carpentry, sewing, agriculture, hospitality, etc.
4) expansion of the ongoing feeding program to other locations
5) building and operating a medical clinic with HIV/AIDS testing facilities
6) further developing the sponsorship program for the poorest children and families
7) building a playground structure
8) developing a program of growing food for the feeding program and facilitating farming/agricultural training for our children and youth
9) building and operating a primary school for the poorest children