VOF Month 1: (A shot in the arm for marginalized children)
There is an adage that education is the gateway to success. In the traditional African life, senior community members were responsible for providing the much needed education and life skills to children for free. However, modern day education is expensive, a situation that may reduce the chances for orphans and vulnerable children to acquire basic education.
The HIV scourge has ravaged communities and the poverty stricken Sub-Saharan Africa is on record as the worst affected. Many children who have lost parents can not afford school fees. On seeing scores of school drop-outs hanging out in the streets, Febie Chuma, a Reverend with the House of Prayer International converted her garage into Noah’s Ark, a pre-school and a nursery providing free education for children. Her first intake was 50 children all from her Queens Park suburb in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
“I could not wait to get money to purchase a stand to construct proper classroom blocks. Constructing classrooms is far too expensive and could even prevent me from achieving my goal of supporting the marginalized children. This garage is big enough to accommodate all the children. I received donations of carpets and furniture and those were all the basics I needed to kick start this project,” Febie says.
Running this institution is not a stroll in the park. For a start, the children need to be provided with meals as their guardians can not provide them with lunch packs. There is an overwhelming need for stationery, toiletry, detergents, clothes and blankets. There is also a shortage of devoted teachers to assist her. This is because she can not afford to pay them competitive salaries.
“Resource mobilization is the greatest challenge in running Noah’s Ark. To cope with this challenge, I heavily engage some influential community members and maintain the strong linkages so that they provide any form of support,” says Febie.
Febie adds that trust is the biggest assert in the continued existence of Noah’s Ark. During the acute food shortages when people were queuing for basic commodities in the country, Febie’s pre-school always had something reserved for the children.
Some working class women pay her to look after their toddlers. These contributions help her to cover up for some of the expenses.
“With the increase in cases of child abductions, child abuse and child trafficking, it is difficult for anyone to leave a child to a stranger but this community now has a lot of trust in me and as such the number of working class women who leave their children here is growing,” she adds.
The children at the school are from diverse backgrounds. There are some children whose parents can afford to make contributions towards the running of the school. However Febie has not diverted from her mandate of assisting the marginalized children.
In order to run the school competitively, Febie has acquired all the skills that are relevant. First she trained as a primary school teacher and then trained as a pre-school teacher.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.