Our partners at Shinga Development Trust in Zimbabwe are constructing an orphan village to give orphans a home, an education, and a chance at a better future.

Many of you are very familiar with Phyllis Keino – the founder of the Lewa Children’s Home and Kipkeino Primary School in Eldoret, Kenya and our volunteer spokesperson here at Bread and Water for Africa UK.  Thanks to the long partnership with our charity and the support of our loyal community across the United Kingdom, Phyllis couldn’t be more pleased with the success the orphanage and school have had in making the lives of Kenya children better.

Now, she hopes to see that success replicated in Zimbabwe.

Margaret Makambira is an inspiring person who is taking what Phyllis has done at Lewa and is bringing it to Zimbabwe where she and her team at the Shinga Development Trust have made tremendous progress in building a children’s village for orphans and vulnerable children can live cared for by a special house mother.

The first children will be arriving by Summer of 2015 in the children’s village where they will go to school and for many of them it will mark the first time they’ve gone to class and it will be a transformational experience for them.

“I can promise you,” said Makambira in October, “as soon as we get funding, we will work tirelessly. All our focus is on completing this house as soon as possible.”

Located in Mutare, each of the individual children’s homes will offer a loving and safe environment for 12 children in need. And just as in Eldoret, a farm next to the orphanage will provide a consistent supply of food. The farm, which has roughly 200 chickens who are laying around 150 eggs daily and two pigs that have given birth to a litter of 11 piglets, provides food as well as an extra source of income, helping to pay for items including school uniforms and shoes and the orphanage’s on-going operational expenses.

The Children’s Village promises to be as inspiring as Lewa in transforming the lives of young children, from infants to age 18, who currently have no family and no chance of going to school.

As the only one of its kind in the city of Mutare, the four-bedroom shared cottage will have a house mother, who will also directly benefit from the project and will be directly responsible for the children’s care and safety along with Makambira.

Bread and Water for Africa UK is assisting the Shinga Development Trust, founded by director Makambira fifteen years ago, in its mission and goals “to protect and empower orphans and vulnerable children in remote villages especially those from child-headed households…and to empower and equip these children by providing for their education, health and nutrition needs and placing them in decent housing, training them in life skills which will lead towards self-sufficiency.”

The need for such a children’s home in Zimbabwe is great and growing.

A distressing consequence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe, and of the subsequently increasing number of orphans and simultaneously decreasing number of caregivers, is the emergence and escalation of child-headed households.

The AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe is devastating families and communities with an estimated 1 million orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS-related diseases, with many more children living with sick and bedridden caregivers or no adult caregivers at all.

It is estimated that about 100,000 children are living in child-headed households and children without proper adult care are more likely to be abused and exploited. Many orphans and vulnerable children slip further into poverty once the family’s main breadwinner stops working or dies and losing a parent or caregiver often means losing access to education and healthcare services.

Education is still shown to be the very best way to offer orphans leverage against cyclical poverty and dangerous alternatives. Those who live in the Children’s Village will be given the opportunity to receive an education (some for the very first time) at a local primary and secondary school. It is expected that these children will attain measurable increases in their literacy and numeracy skills as a result.

Orphans living in the village will also have access to healthcare, as they will be registered with the city’s social welfare department and be subject to regular medical assessments at the local general hospital and/or specialist HIV clinics. Those children infected with HIV/AIDS, whose illnesses have gone undiagnosed or who have never received any kind of health check-up, will benefit from improved health and regular healthcare following an assessment of their needs.

Being located on a 5-acre plot of land adjacent to the children’s village, the farm will grow a staple of seasonal foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and provide meat for the children who will benefit from better nutrition, helping to support their health status and improve concentration at school.

And that, Phyllis notes, is what Bread and Water for Africa UK is all about – helping our partners make each year better for the people we help.