Charity

A year before The Winds that Blow Before the Rains was published, I happened to watch BBC2′s BAFTA award-winning documentary Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children, screened in 2010. Now, you must understand that I know Africa well, but the documentary reminded me of the unimaginable suffering of orphaned and abandoned children who will never have a future as you and I know it.  I could have closed the door after the film and carried on with my life, but I didn’t.  I decided there and then to donate all the proceeds from The Winds that Blow Before the Rains towards helping orphaned and abandoned children in Zimbabwe.

I recently sent the first cheque to SOS Children’s Villages, the charity involved in giving these children some kind of a life. With your help it will be the first of many.   SOS CHILDREN’S ZIMBABWE PROJECTS  is at a crossroads. Many years of crisis have brought the country to its knees. The economy is in free-fall. Too many people live on food aid. Nearly 20% of the population is HIV positive. Four hundred people die each day from HIV-related illnesses. Life expectancy has plummeted to 43 years for women and 44 for men.

You may also have seen the documentary Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children and been affected by the plight of the children featured in the film. The film see above, which tells the story of young sisters Esther and Tino and their struggle to survive, won the 2011 BAFTA for Best Current Affairs documentary. Esther, nine, is HIV-positive and lives in a squatter camp just outside the capital, Harare, in the north of the country. She lives in one small tent with her mother and her three-year-old sister, Tino, after the death of her father.  The documentary follows Esther as she spends her days caring for her mother – who is confined to bed suffering from HIV / AIDS and whose condition is rapidly getting worse – while also taking sole responsibility for the care of her little sister.  The family is reliant on food aid, and when this runs out they sleep without eating.  Food shortages, poor hygiene and lack of medical facilities result in Esther and her sister frequently being ill.  Their older sister, Yvette, left home to live on the streets and is rarely able to come back to help.  Esther hasn’t been able to attend school for over a year.  After her mother sadly passed away, the children came under the care of their uncle who moved into the camp to take responsibility for his sister’s piece of land. However, he does not provide adequate care for the children, often leaving them alone outside in the heat all day, unable to come inside the tent for food and water.  The children, Esther and Tino, were taken in by the SOS Children’s Village in Bindura and the time they spend settling in at the SOS Children’s Village was documented in the follow-up screened on BBC2 on 17 March 2011. SOS Children is working across Zimbabwe to give children like Esther and Tino a chance to live a happy life. If you could contribute to our work in Zimbabwe, please consider our ways below, which help to change children’s lives:

  • Sponsorship is not used for UK admin.

  • 100% is spent on the care of children

  • Child gets family-based care including a home, food, school and healthcare

 

One way to help children in Zimbabwe is to start a Village sponsorship.  By donating £20 a month, you will be directly supporting an SOS Children’s Village in Zimbabwe, and helping them to take on additional children like Esther and Tino.  All donations received in sponsorship for the villages are 100% sent to the Villages without any UK deductions whatsoever.  There are three SOS Children’s Villages in Zimbabwe: Bindura, Harare (Waterfalls) and Bulawayo.  Each Village consists of a group of family homes, each with between five and ten children living in them, cared for by a dedicated SOS mother living 24 hours a day as a real mother to the children living there.  Your money will go towards the day-to-day running costs of the Village, helping SOS mothers go about their work.

SOS Children in Zimbabwe

© SOS Children in Zimbabwe

A village sponsorship can be a stable, long-term commitment, and it helps plan for the future – giving the foundation to reach out to more children like Esther and Tino.  Together, we will be able to give hope to children who are currently living in desperate situations.  All your donations go straight to the projects in Zimbabwe.  They will help to provide healthcare, education and support for many children and their families in the areas where your contribution is needed most.

 

AIDS IN AFRICA

We are all becoming more aware of the scale of human suffering caused by HIV / AIDS in Africa, especially for the children who are orphaned and often lose siblings to AIDS.  SOS Children has grassroots projects in most countries in Africa, working at a simple level to give practical support to children.  Last year SOS Children supported more than a hundred thousand AIDS Orphans in their own family home in 44 countries through three visits a week with practical help, food, medicine and love.  Children are saved one by one and every contribution helps to help another child. However, there is so much more to do…    There is an epidemic of AIDS engulfing much of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. In some African countries it is estimated that 40% of the working-age population has contracted HIV, with younger and more successful workers being most likely to be affected.  However, this is never uniform across a population; 40% of a whole African country will mean there are areas where virtually everyone has contracted HIV / AIDS.  The worst affected countries include Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. In places like these, village after village has no young adults left.  The scale of the problem is overwhelming.  It is hard to know how to approach such a situation.  SOS Children has developed a strategy for AIDS orphans in Africa where they do not move children from their familiar background but strengthen their community to look after them.  SOS has projects helping more than a hundred thousand African children orphaned by AIDS in 45 African countries, and is growing as fast as donations allow.

 

© SOS Childrens Villages - Bindura Primary School

© SOS Childrens Villages – Bindura Primary School

 

It is not unusual to find very young children or some of their brothers and sisters with AIDS (about half of all children of HIV-affected African mothers end up with AIDS themselves), orphaned and caring for toddlers. It is estimated that 90% of the world’s HIV-infected children live in Africa, and more than half a million die of AIDS each year.

 

SOS CHARITY WORK IN ZIMBABWE

“We built our first community in Zimbabwe in 1983 to help children who had lost their parents in the struggle for independence.

Bindura

The SOS Children’s Village Bindura is in the Mozowe valley, about 50 miles north of the capital of Harare. It has 15 family houses and seven SOS Youth Homes: three in the Village and four in nearby Chipadzi. The SOS Nursery, which offers full day care, together with the well established SOS Primary and Secondary Schools, are open to nearly 2,000 children from both the SOS Children’s Village and the neighbourhood. Since 2003, Family Strengthening Programmes have been co-ordinated, offering access to essential services for children’s development and supporting families to protect and care for their children. The programmes reach out to over 3,000 children a year and provide them and their families with food, school fees, basic medical treatment, counselling and psychosocial support.”

Waterfalls

In 1989, we opened SOS Children’s Village Waterfalls in a suburb of Harare. Up to 180 children can find a new home in the 15 family houses and each family has its own garden to grow fruits and vegetables. In order to meet the needs of the growing number of youths who had outgrown the SOS Children’s Village, eight SOS Youth Homes were established in 1998, where up to 100 youths can stay during higher education or further training and prepare themselves for an independent life. The Village is also home to two hospice houses for SOS children and staff suffering from AIDS. The SOS Nursery and SOS Primary School are open to local children.

Bulawayo 

We opened a community in 1995 in the capital of Matabeleland Province, Bulawayo. The SOS Children’s Village is located on the banks of the river Matsheumhlope in the Matabeleland Province and enjoys the advantages of the infrastructure of the city: local secondary schools and markets are within easy reach. It has 15 family houses and ten SOS Youth Homes. The SOS Nursery and SOS Primary School provide for the educational needs of local children as well as the SOS children. The Village also offers Family Strengthening Programmes which help link families with income generating activities and offer help to improve the parents’ parenting skills to provide a better future for their children.

SITUATION OF THE CHILDREN IN ZIMBABWE

Although a number of laws and regulations aiming to protect Zimbabwean children do exist, many of them are difficult to enforce due to a lack of resources. A high number of children never receive a birth certificate, which makes it difficult for them to be enrolled in school and seek medical attention. Although progress has been made in terms of child protection, rape and sexual abuse of children continue to be serious problems. According to police reports, child rape nearly tripled between 2005 and 2007. Young girls are particularly vulnerable to rape as some men in Zimbabwe believe that having sex with a virgin will cure them of HIV / AIDS. It has been reported that underage marriage is extremely common in rural, isolated areas of the country. Endemic poverty and alarmingly high levels of HIV / AIDS, particularly among orphaned children, result in tens of thousands of children having no access to medical services. Every day over a hundred children in Zimbabwe die from diseases that are easily curable in the West. According to UNICEF estimates, there are around 1,400,000 orphans living in Zimbabwe. Around one million of them have been orphaned due to AIDS. The HIV / AIDS pandemic is a major reason why children in Zimbabwe grow up without parental care. Around 80% of orphaned children do not receive any form of external support.

 

STATEMENT FROM SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGES, ZIMBABWE

‘We are very touched and honoured that Michael Anthony would choose to make such a generous contribution to our cause. The proceeds from his book will go a long way in helping us to provide a loving home for HIV children in Zimbabwe. Please support us by buying the book, talking about it, sharing and debating the issues. All of this helps towards caring for desperate children that need our support, kids that might never have a future as you and I know it. Maybe one day they will have a little of what we all take for granted in the West.’

To find out more about the work of SOS Children’s Villages, please visit their website.