Last year, Crosslight brought you the story of an orphanage in Zimbabwe that holds a special place in the hearts of some of our Uniting Church community.
Tasmanian couple Grant and Anthea Maynard spoke of the 10 months they spent with their three young daughters as UnitingWorld volunteers at Matthew Rusike Children’s Home in Zimbabwean capital Harare.
Wandin Seville UC member Mark Edmonds shared his story of volunteering at the same orphanage and the work he and other church members have done to attempt to make the struggling orphanage self-sufficient.
Mark has just recently returned from two-and-a-half weeks in Zimbabwe. He said that since the article about the orphanage appeared in Crosslight, he had been approached by many church members asking how they could help.
Donations from throughout the church and various community groups have enabled the home to expand their irrigation system and install a hothouse. Mark said the results at Harare show how much lives can be changed with just a little support.
“The water and irrigation program has made a considerable difference to the lives of the children at the home,” Mark said.
“Not only do they have water into the dormitories, alleviating the long walk for drinking and bathing water, but their diets have also improved. We have put steps in place to provide more green and vitamin A vegetables into the diets. It was pleasing to hear the resident nurse at the home say that the general health of the children is ‘good’ and there is evidence the finances of the home have made a material difference in the 2014 year.”
As well as growing enough to feed the more than 150 residents at the home, Mark explained that the irrigation system enables the orphanage to earn an income while providing many of its residents with invaluable agricultural skills.
“Since last year, the first stage of the program has been a tremendous success, with sales of vegetables, chicken and pork in excess of US$51,000. This has included 11.3 tons of tomatoes, 1.6 tons of pumpkins, 3,500 cobs of maize, 108 pigs and 4,100 chickens.
“The construction of the hothouse will allow a further planting of 1400 tomato plants at least twice yearly which will result in an increase of the annual harvest of tomatoes by approximately 14 tons.”
Mark said that with the recent funding cuts to foreign aid, it was more important than ever that people continue to support programs that can make such a huge difference to the lives of the world’s poorest people.
While offering thanks to generous supporters on behalf of the orphans of Harare, he hopes the stories of success will inspire others to consider ways they can help. Mark will be returning to the orphanage in April next year to expand the poultry project and increase the irrigation capacity.
If you are interested in contributing to the work at the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home, contact Mark Edmonds at: firstname.lastname@example.org