Chikore is a 35 bed hospital in a remote area that is difficult to reach due to the poor condition of the roads. It serves a large catchment area of 44 villages some as far away as 40 km. Accessing healthcare is a huge challenge and family members arrive on foot pushing or pulling the patient in wagons or wheelbarrows. The more fortunate may have a donkey or ox cart but rarely, a vehicle. The distance and lack of funds are deterrents to basic care. Many patients succumb to readily treatable conditions. For example, by the time a grandmother reached the hospital, a child was dead from dehydration secondary to diarrhea. Those without money may pay for care in goods such as firewood, maize or a chicken or by service such as working on the hospital grounds or garden.
The Hospital has been without a resident Doctor for years. Currently a Dr. from Mt Selinda visits once a month. Cell phone service and email connections are inconsistent. Therefore, the nurses manage all cases that come to the door with the skills they have, compassion and grace. The recent acquisition of an ambulance can now provide emergency transport to Mt Selinda or Chipinge Hospitals. Medications and essential supplies are often scarce or unavailable.
Despite these challenges, the nurses and other workers do the best they can with hope for a brighter future. The Matron says that "we keep on keeping on".
The lessons to be learned are many. Life and success are what you make it. Beyond the poverty is everything important : the blessings of generosity, gratitude, welcoming friendship and love.
"The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step."
[L.B. a college student]
In the hills and villages of beautiful Zimbabwe live a generation of children without parents. Because of poverty, many of these orphans do not have the opportunity to go to school. An orphaned teenager may be thrust into caring for his/her siblings in child-headed households as extended families are stretched way beyond their limits.. Theirs are stories of resilience that give us reason to hope. A Light for Zimbabwe is challenged to look beyond what might seem impossible and say 'yes' to the opportunity to make a difference.
Sponsorships are available at all levels of financial commitment; every donation counts! Your caring gifts mean hope on the horizon where before there was none.
With the help of caring friends and donors we have more than doubled our orphan sponsorships to 75, from primary through secondary school. One of these families has 10 children who live with an elderly grandmother. One 11 year old boy had never been to school and has now started grade 1. We provide school fees, shoes, a uniform, school supplies as well as basic food and staple items to the most needy.
In addition there are 5 students attending college or university; two more will start this year. 3 students have graduated and are employed as a lawyer, an accountant and a teacher.
Individual sponsors like you have made this possible.
For others, technical training in such fields as sewing, carpentry, wood and metal working, mechanics, etc. is more practical and gives a hand up out of dependence. Upon completion, these students will be employable, equipped to start small businesses, and able determine their own futures.
Education is the key to breaking the cyclical nature of poverty.
As these young people complete their education, they shine as beacons of hope to others. A Light for Zimbabwe believes that by reaching out to someone in need you can change a life forever.
The UN and All Africa.com reported that 1.6 million will need food assistance especially during January-March, 2016; the 'hunger season.' There are already signs of distress in some rural areas. This year's grain harvest was 1/3 less than those from the last years. Contributing factors included erratic rainfall, dry spells, and limited access to seed and fertilizer. Manicaland Province, which includes Chikore and Mt. Selinda, is one of the worst affected areas. Giving small grants for sustainable agricultural projects both provides a safety net and preserves dignity. The following are examples of such projects.
ALFZ supports broiler projects in 5 villages and at Chikore Hospital. A local Agricultural Extension Officer provides the expertise, teaching and ongoing support. A small joining fee of $5 is required to show commitment. At Chikore Hospital the project was requested to augment their income which is insufficient to maintain basic services; many patients are unable to pay fees. They now have 100 chicks to raise, sell and purchase.
5 Villages formed groups of 8-10 people who divide the tasks of caring for and selling chicks. They have requested goats to augment their income.
The first layers project for egg production was started this year by building a fowl run and providing chicks, feed, vitamins etc until laying starts. This was given to a father of 3 who also provides a home for 4 orphans so that he will be better able to feed, clothe and care for his large family.
Goats provide an easy to care for , essential source of protein in addition to income from the sale of meat and animals as they reproduce. The first female kid is passed on in the “pay it forward” model. Each she goat produces 2-4 kids per year.
Daisy Dube Childrens home was the site of the first goat project followed by 5 orphans in Shekwa village.
With sufficient funding we will add goats to the Chikore Mission villages as they requested. The start up cost is $100-$125 for 3 she goats.
Fashion and Fabrics
Mafumhe Secondary School has been the recipient of 3 hand operated sewing machines to establish a Fashion and Fabrics Block which will teach students a marketable skill. Upon graduation, they will be able to offer tailoring, garment and uniform making and repair . A hand operated sewing machine costs $125 and with intermittent electricity is the best choice. Our goal is to add machines at Mafume and to expand this practical subject to other rural secondary schools.
In remote rural Zimbabwe access to such essentials as clean water, school, grinding mills and health care is a daily challenge. Clean water is critical for the prevention of waterborne diseases. Often, it is obtained from rivers and streams used for bathing, laundry and shared with animals. Women and children may have to walk up to 10 miles carrying buckets of water or 50# bags of grain on their heads
Villagers rely on subsistence farming for basic food but lack the ability to get the produce to the markets to sell. A Light for Zimbabwe has provided start up funds for sustainable agricultural and small animal projects sowing seeds of hope for future self reliance
Rural schools face additional challenges of teacher retention due to inadequate accommodations, lack of books and teaching materials, and oversized classrooms or 50-60 children. Vulnerable youth lack access to jobs and/or training
The Village Health Workers provide an essential service in each village. He or she is trained to identify problems, assess basic needs, monitor chronic illnesses and to supervise care of vulnerable children and adults. They also teach disease prevention, sanitation and nutrition as well as monitoring babies for failure to thrive. Careful records are kept of immunizations, weights etc. for the 1-5 year olds. They are the eyes and ears of the hospital and organize the monthly visits by the Nursing Outreach team from the Hospital.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Health and Diseases
Without basic medical care people are suffering and dying needlessly.
Facts: According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 45 for women and 46 for men. 60% of the worlds 40 million people with HIV/AIDS and 2/3 of the worlds AIDS related deaths are in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Zimbabwe, this means that 1.3 million are affected in a population of 11,600,000. Despite the fact that the overall incidence of HIV/ AIDS is declining due to increased awareness of cause, treatment and prevention, 34% of sexually active adults are HIV positive. One third of today's 15 year olds will die from this preventable disease.
Prevention: Education about transmission and prevention has increased at Hospitals, Clinics, Schools and Churches. Early Diagnosis, treatment and lifetime compliance with medication regimes is encouraged. Anti-retrovirals are now available at designated sites along with lab monitoring to measure effectiveness of treatment. Mt Selinda and Chikore Hospitals offer clinics in VCT: Voluntary Counseling and Testing, PPTCT: Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission and OI: Opportunistic Infections.
Opportunistic Infections: Most persons with HIV/AIDS die of OI which refers to any infectious disease that the body is no longer able to overcome because of lack of a normal immune response. These include, for example, such diseases as TB, diarrheal diseases, pneumonia and infected wounds. Early treatment and diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.
The second most common disease is . It is carried by the Anopheles mosquito which is tiny, silent and has mutated to a more deadly variety which is resistant to drugs that were formerly effective. It claims the life of an African child every 30 seconds. It is a waterborne disease which thrives in the rainy season November to June . There are few mosquito control programs and not nearly enough mosquito nets especially in rural areas. Less than 5 % of rural African children sleep under mosquito nets.
Malaria is curable if treated promptly. Left untreated, it progresses to the brain causing convulsions, delerium , coma and death. There is research at the international level to develop drugs that will be more widely available.
Once the bread basket of Africa, drought and poor harvests have led to declining food security and increasing hunger. Maize production has decreased from 2 million to 450 tons per year. Rising world food costs and high unemployment compound the problem and make it difficult for many to afford even staple foods. Babies, children the elderly and those with chronic diseases are most at risk. Over 3.5 million children world wide die each year from malnutrition.
"Zimbabwe's children deserve better. They deserve to go to school, to drink clean water, to receive quality health care and to go to bed without feeling hungry." -
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon
Cholera is a waterborne disease that causes acute , massive diarrhea leading to dehydration and death if not promptly treated It is curable with with early intervention including re- hydration and antibiotics.It will remain a threat as long as water sources are unreliable. Cholera is highly contagious and spread by personal contact in addition to ingesting contaminated water. Prevention includes careful handwashing with soap, drinking water from protected sources or boiling clear water for 5 minutes. Soiled bedding and clothing should be discarded. New bore holes [wells] are an ongoing and critical need.