For a while now we have been trying to get information on courses offered at one of Zimbabwe's renowned colleges with no avail. We really could not understand why the lack of information and somewhat "secrecy". This week I realized that information in Zimbabwe, and possibly any other developing country, is definitely a commodity. There is a desire to be exclusive in order to offer a service or product that is unique. However, in a developing market it is hard to be the sole provider of a product or service... soon enough someone will copy and paste. With the development of all the new educational institutions in Zimbabwe, even schools succumb to this "secrecy". After being on ground I found this to be the reason we were having such a hard time acquiring information on courses.
I decided to visit Harare Polytechnic College and see if I could get sufficient information to put ZOF's mind at ease concerning which school to partner with. Harare Poly had been recommended to us by a few people including Emerald Hill Children's Home (EHCH) but we needed more than a recommendation. I am so happy that my trip to Harare Poly was not in vain and I won't have to spend the rest of my time in Zimbabwe looking for an alternative school. I met with all the professors for each course and they all seemed very dedicated and knowledgeable in their fields. The courses are quite comprehensive and with lots of practical application. The facilities at Harare Poly are also up to par which is essential for most of the courses, such as garment design. The courses also help to map out career opportunities and possible uses of the skill set in the current market in Zimbabwe.
I am glad that one of the major goals of my trip has been successfully accomplished and ZOF can move forward with our initiative to fund vocational training for vulnerable children. The children are quite excited about it and have been asking me when they are going to start.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Saturday, July 20, 2013
This trip has definitely highlighted the tremendous need to fund vocational training for vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. Yes, we know the statistics say the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is over 90% and informal employment is really what sustains many families but what does this really look like. During the past few days I have met quite a few people who are formally employed and supplementing their income with vocational skills, merely to survive. I have also met many who earn a living purely by a vocational skill or two.
The young girl who is studying at the University of Zimbabwe and braiding hair part-time for her day-to-day upkeep and to subsidize her young brother's school fees. The young man who wakes up at 4 o'clock in the morning and heads to Mbare market to sell fresh produce he and his wife produced on a small plot of land gifted on their wedding day. By 6:30am he has supplied market sellers with fresh produce for the day then he heads home, takes a shower, puts on a suit and heads to his corporate job by 8am. All because the salary he earns hardly meets the increasing cost of living. The lady who earns a living by making customs designed African attire for women in Zimbabwe. It is so inspiring to see the creativity and tenacity in Zimbabwe... the hope and desire to 'succeed'.
In addition to an economy in Zimbabwe that demands vocationally trained individuals I believe a child will garner greater benefit from the gift of education because it is a gift one can carry throughout life. It is a gift that not only benefits the individual but benefits their family and community at large. ZOF Africa strives to fund educational initiatives that equip vulnerable children thereby enabling them to sustain themselves. Education, specifically vocational education, is a great investments in a child’s life in Zimbabwe that will yield great results.
Market in Zimbabwe
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Although I am Zimbabwean and always look forward to a trip home, I was a bit apprehensive about this trip. It would be my first time traveling home for the specific purpose of meeting vulnerable/orphaned children. I am here to build relationships with the children and to try and understand their needs and even wants, to research and acquire information for ZOF Africa's current educational initiatives for the children, and here to strategize for potential projects. I also realize that this journey may be filled with many unexpected randoms and lessons...
Let me quickly address one issue… I learnt immediately that the majority of children that have lost their parents do not like to be referred to as 'orphans'. The stigma related with the word, especially in Zimbabwe is very difficult for the children to deal with. They also believe that there is more that defines them and would prefer not to be confined to being an "orphan". So throughout this blog I will either refer to them as vulnerable children or simply as children. The title of this blog is fitting because in my eyes I see all children as chosen blossoms. They are so special and it is such a blessing to be a part of their lives… even in the smallest way.
So, here begins my journey...
Will I have the right words to say, will I be strong enough to encourage, will I see below the surface, will I understand their needs, will ZOF Africa make an effective contribution, will the children be inspired?
My hope and belief is yes.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
In a few days I will be on my way to Zimbabwe. I am going on behalf of ZOF Africa and I will be serving at Emerald Hill Children's Home. I am so humbled for the privilege to work with orphaned children. Please share this journey with me. Be inspired as I am inspired.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.