Zimbabwe Orphan Care has been providing for orphans since 2000. A dedicated eight-person team of Alan and Dorothy Graham of Northern Ireland and native Zimbabweans Shepherd, Perpetual, Sarah, Yemu, Upwards and Sophia has established an extensive feeding and education programme in Harare and in the rural areas.
Alan & Dorothy Graham, originally from Belfast, have been working in Harare, Zimbabwe for Child Evangelical Fellowship since October 1999. The main purpose of this work was to integrate into schools and orphanages operating ‘Good News Clubs’ and Bible teaching based activities for children. It soon became clear that the work through CEF, while very important, was not going to be able to impact the lives of the children in the way they wanted, so while they were developing the CEF work they also established Zimbabwe Orphan Care in 2000. ZOC was set up to help in more practical ways, offering feeding programmes and providing school uniforms and clothes for the poorest children to attend school. It became clear that many children were not able to attend local schools as the fees couldn’t be paid, and so ZOC was able to assist with paying school fees for thousands of children every year. The work in the early days was generously supported by people, mostly from Ireland who shared the ‘vision’ with Alan & Dorothy. The CEF work is now reaching into 60 schools every month and speaking to over 60,000 children and young people with the good news of the gospel as well as continuing feeding, clothing and funding programmes. We also distribute football kits, footballs and sports equipment into these schools as their funds do not allow the purchase of these items.
What Disturbs You?
As the country of Zimbabwe started to decline into turmoil, Alan & Dorothy felt a call to get involved in a more practical way. The term, which has become the vision of the ZOC charity, ‘What Disturbs you?’ spoke to their hearts and while in our ‘modern’ world, children not having the biggest TV or latest X-box, or not getting the latest designer clothes are ‘disturbing’ to most, God impressed on their hearts the young girls being raped by Robert Mugabe’s soldiers and then discarding their new-born babies by the roadside or in buses or trains. The direction of the work of ZOC took a new ‘avenue’ and ‘Jabulani’ home was planned, to house newborn abandoned babies and give them a live, a hope and a future.
ZOC applied for full charitable status as a Northern Ireland registered charity in August 2008 and received this approval soon after allowing us to seek funding from ‘foundations’ and claim additional ‘Gift Aid’ support on future donations .
This work was against a backdrop of a devaluing currency and subsequently the Zimbabwe Dollar has now ceased being used and even with the US Dollar as the ‘normal’ currency, inflation is still 5% every 2 weeks.
The ‘Jabulani’ Vision
Initially we planned to build the home for abandoned babies outside of the city, however after discussions with local authorities, it was agreed that we didn’t want to set up an ‘institution’ and that an inner city plot, albeit a lot more expensive, was the best way to establish this. In September 2008, we identified a property in the Marlborough District of Harare and set about to purchase the house and 4 acres of land it occupied. The home was purchased, and what should have been a simple renovation ended up with a complete redevelopment, due to structurally unsound foundations and walls. The total cost of purchasing the building and site, along with the renovation costs was £150K. We then shipped a container of new furniture for the whole home from Northern Ireland (with financial support from IKEA) at a cost of £15K. This whole phase of the project was funded in full through generous donations from friends and supporters of ZOC through our ‘Build an Orphanage in a Day’ appeal, which encouraged people to donate one day’s salary to help in this work
The next phase
With costs continuing to escalate in Zimbabwe, we felt we should press ahead with the next phase of the development to build 2 homes on the same site to house ‘family units’ for the children to live in once they were old enough to leave the main home. Construction costs, due to inflation, were being quoted at $1000 per sq metre. We were able to come to an agreement with a local builder for him to build the 2 main structures for $120K (approx £75K) and then the plumbing, electrical, painting and furnishing will cost approx £45K – a total cost for both homes of £120K. These homes were started in October 2009 and are due for completion in early 2010.
At the outset of this project we agreed we would do everything to the best possible standard, and have tried on all occasions to comply with every rule and regulation in Zimbabwe, albeit many are corrupt for extortion purposes. Over the last 2 years we have shipped 5 (shared) containers to Zimbabwe with everything from furniture, foodstuff, nappies and baby clothes, toys, footballs and footballs kits. These have been in conjunction with Elim Missions. We have had donations from foundations towards the work and also for specific items such as the 300 footballs, pumps and nets we recently shipped for the schools work there. We have applied for full Zimbabwe registration as a NGO (non government agency) which will allow us to import out own aid containers in the future. We have also applied for more licenses for the amount of babies we can ‘legally’ have in ‘Jabulani’ as at present we have a full quota with 6. The home and houses will be able to rescue between 40 – 50 children depending on licenses. We have established an excellent working relationship with the local authorities and have social services and even the police are in regular contact and even bringing some babies for short term care prior to their adoption. HIV / Aids is still the worst killer in Africa and we have already children in our care who are victims of this, however we are able to offer them a good standard of life through regular medication and constant care. ZOC also support other HIV / Aids programmes based around the Harare area.
How you can help
At present we still need to raise the money to pay for the second phase of the houses, as well as the ongoing running costs of the home and staff, and the ongoing feeding, clothing and school projects. We are actively organising bag packing, sponsored events and seeking donations to ensure these houses can be completed to the same excellent standard as the main home, in the necessary timescale without affecting all the other essential work. Full details on all the activities can be viewed at www.zimorphancare.org or you can contact me on +44 (0) 7711 771 563.