By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Mashambanzou Care Trust is not only renowned for caring for the HIV infected and affected but has extended its hand to desperate children through the establishment of Nenyere Day Care Centre right in the midst of the densely congested high density suburb of Mbare in Harare.
The idea behind Nenyere Day Care Centre was to accommodate underprivileged pupils from disadvantaged families and to give them love, care and hope by offering them early childhood development education. The centre hosts 35 girls and 25 boys who are drawn from Mbare and its surrounding areas such as Nenyere, Matapi, Shawasha and Matererini flats where most children are dumbed, neglected or live in extreme poverty.
According to Acting Projects Manager for Mashambanzou, Sr. Francisca Temba, pupils are identified through Mashambanzou Voluntary Care Givers working in the area who then refer potential beneficiaries to Mashambanzou team.
“The team then uses the Vulnerability Index Tool that focuses on four themes including poverty, HIV, Tuberculosis and disability. Poverty assessment means looking at a household living below $1 a day while other categories are clear to decide on,” said Sr. Temba.
Sr. Temba mentioned that the Index allows for ranking that leads to the grading of the most vulnerable also taking into account gender sensitivity. She pointed out that most of the children come from poor backgrounds that when left on their own would not make it in life.
She said: “Some of the children would be left alone to roam the streets while the parents will be looking for livelihoods. This exposes the children to harsh conditions and neglect. Other children are born HIV positive because the parents have been infected and have no source of income to take care of the family. In this case Mashambanzou assesses the vulnerability of the children before taking them on board at NDCC.”
Nenyere Day Care Centre has a two pronged approach that of providing early childhood education and nutritional support for undernourished children. The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Tafadzwa Chigodora credited the centre for providing safety, education and nutritional support to poor children.
“This programme limits cases of retarded growth among children as they will be well fed through the nutritional feeding scheme. They are also well protected from all forms of social, psychological and spiritual abuse and they receive quality early childhood education that prepares them for a better future,” Chigodora said.
According to Chigodora, children at the centre have constant medical check ups by Mashambanzou Nursing Staff to ascertain their health conditions while they also receive counselling.
NDCC provides children with a wider educational experience including educational trips once every term. The Centre has also incorporated the disability inclusion by teaching children sign language so that they are able to communicate with the deaf community. Pupils undergo a two year programme as per government regulation and are provided with a full package including uniforms and school fees as they graduate to start Grade 1.
Chigodora said those requiring further assistance would then be incorporated in the Mashambanzou Educational Assistance programme for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), which caters for children from ECD to tertiary education.
Not only is NDCC concerned about the education and health for poor children but the centre assists by securing the necessary legal documents for children such as birth certificates as required by the Constitution (Section 81 (c) (i) and (ii) that every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, born in Zimbabwe or born outside Zimbabwe and is a Zimbabwean citizen by descent has the right to the prompt provision of a birth certificate.