June 2021: I recently participated in a programme organised by the TCZ (Theological College of Zimbabwe) prompted by reports of an increase in teenage (and even pre-teen) pregnancies since lockdown began last year. How can these girls be helped? How can it be prevented in future? What should the church, the families and the community be doing? Sex education in schools, the role of society, traditions and culture were examined. Upsetting stories came from a doctor who had helped girls deliver their babies and from the Victim-Friendly Unit of the Police who handle rape cases. Lawyers too contributed details of their work helping to find secure shelter and other help for young rape victims. On a happier note, one lady told how she had given birth as a schoolgirl years ago, but with the support of both families she had been enabled to finish her schooling and she and the child’s father are now married.
I continue to work from my office at the Central Methodist Church in Bulawayo. Part of my day involves helping people who come in off the streets, giving them food, sympathy and advice. My work in the rural circuits has been severely curtailed for over a year now because of the Covid-19 situation. A chicken rearing project was badly affected by the lockdown and a brick making project was put on hold until circumstances improve. The programme of setting up Kids’ Clubs is also waiting for sports and games to be allowed again. I help to organise assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children, by providing school fees, uniforms and exercise books and so on where possible.
May 2018: Greetings from Zimbabwe As I look around I am overwhelmed by what I see: greenery and flowers everywhere. “What a mighty God we serve!” For a number of years now we had been experiencing drought in Zimbabwe. Everywhere you looked was dry and bare, but this year our Good Lord has blessed us with plenty of rains. Thanks to the Almighty for covering our fears of running out of water. The city dams were running empty. Now water rationing has been lifted. While we are happy about the blessing of rains, a lot of destruction also happened: roads and bridges were washed away, some houses were destroyed, people relocated to higher ground and crops destroyed in some areas. Hence my work was affected too, because without proper roads I can’t reach some places with dirt roads, so I was only managing to visit those places which I can reach on tarmac roads. We continue receiving resources from well-wishers for orphans and vulnerable children in our circuits. Among them are school materials, clothes and food. We have also started educating orphans and vulnerable children on health and life issues, for example, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, hygiene, respect, alcohol awareness among other things. A role play is sometimes done at the end of a lesson. When we arrive at a place, we start with devotions conducted by the minister of that circuit or by one of the caregivers. Then we have a talk or games with the children, depending on the age group and the children love these moments. We have noticed that children feel more free to contribute when we are with them than when the local community volunteers are there. We had been wondering why this was so, until a certain incident on a recent visit to a place that I won’t name to protect the identity of the child. We had given a talk on teenage pregnancy and afterwards an orphan girl asked us what she should do if her legal guardian tells her that it is her turn to provide something for supper or otherwise go to bed without food. We said she should report to the caregiver, but she said she is afraid it will reach the ears of her guardian and also it will leak and the whole community will know about it. Since then we have organised a training and refresher course for both new and old caregivers, with the issue of confidentiality among the topics. The National Director of Matthew Rusike Children’s Homes sometimes brings her team from Harare to assist with the holding of workshops for caregivers. Although in our African culture it’s customary for extended families and the community to care for orphans and vulnerable children, it’s becoming very difficult to help as the resources are overextended. So a lot of orphans are out of school because the guardian will have seen that he or she has catered for his or her own children first. The Matthew Rusike Children’s Home Bulawayo Management Committee has decided to help establish vegetable gardens. This will be as an income generating project and also to provide nutritious food for orphans in the communities. We thank God for all you dear friends who are helping us financially and in prayer. Please continue to pray for us that God can use us effectively in this ministry. Thank you for your prayers and we in turn pray for you. Pray for the education of children currently dropping out of school because of financial reasons. Pray for protection for children against abuse of all forms, protection against diseases, exploitation and violence.