Mandevo Orphans Outreach!

by - 10:49 PM

Finally stepped out of the city-scape of Harare and entered a completely different world. Today I had the privilege of joining an amazing Zimbabwean couple called Chris and Annie with their three kids Sean, Molly and Kelvin, who started an orphans outreach program in a village called Mandevo. Every Saturday, they would go to Mandevo and drive through the muddy pathways (there are no tarred roads), in between the mud hut dwellings and children running barefoot. They would gather about a hundred and fifty children in the afternoon for a time of Bible stories, games, sharing Scripture verses, teaching sport and skills like sewing (for the girls), as well as give out a simple lunch. The village has about 5,000 inhabitants, most of whom have no way to earn a living like the city folk because they have no practical skills or expertise. So most of the families would farm on the land wherever they can and wherever they like – but since the land confiscation from farm owners a few years back, many of these men and women have lost their jobs and a way to make a living through farming. At present, they will have to toil very hard in tough conditions, without any government assistance or the benefit of a farm business run by experienced farm owners – as a result, they are not able to produce much or find any means to sell what they have produced anyway.

Mandevo also has a huge orphan population. Children who do not have both mother and father, or who only have one parent (who in any case, cannot adequately provide due to such impoverished circumstance) are considered orphans. They cannot afford to go to school. As it is, the children who do have parents are also missing out on school or in danger of dropping out because they do not make enough money to pay for school fees (which amounts to about $50 per term for primary school and $120 per term for secondary school).

Chris estimates that out of the 150 children who come every Saturday, most of them are all considered orphans. The kids range from two to sixteen years old. Many of them are looked out for by their neighbours or fellow aunties and uncles who live in the village. Since Chris and his family have been coming weekly, the children all come together at the open field without being told or called. They love the Bible program, the fun and games, the sport, the singing and dancing, and of course, the food!

This time, we were running a Christmas outreach for the kids, so there were extra goodies for them all (we filled plastic bags of crackers, lollipops, biscuits and a small toy – collected from donations). We even had four tubs of runny strawberry-flavoured ice cream to scoop out into the metal cups and plates the children brought with them. They loved it so much that they were licking their plates and slurping the melted cream from their mugs. Some of the kids were so little, others had this listless expression in their eyes, many had soiled or tattered clothing with holes in them. Most were running barefoot. We got the children to stand in lines and then sit in circles or long lines so that we could distribute the food and ice-cream and goody bags in an orderly way.

But hey guess what, our Christmas ‘party’ turned out to be such a hit that so many other children came along, and even though Ps. Chris expected about 150 to 200 children, about 300 of them turned up!

[To be continued...]

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