Over 1.6 million children have lost the care of their parents in Zimbabwe. HIV/AIDS has had a devastating effect on families and the communities they live in. Some steps have been made to protect the most vulnerable children, but much more remains to be done.
Land distribution remains a highly contentious issue in Zimbabwe
An SOS family from Bindura (photo: S. Kitshoff)
Bindura is the capital of Mashonaland Central and has a population of roughly 40,000 inhabitants. Bindura is predominantly a mining town and has reserves of copper, nickel and cobalt, as well as the corresponding processing industry. The majority of the population in the region live in rural areas.
However, the majority of the population in the region are farmers living in rural areas. The farms are normally small and rarely produce more than enough food for the family to live off.
Just like in other areas of Zimbabwe, families here have been deeply affected by the recent economic difficulties. Many men have left to towns or neighbouring countries in search of work. In these cases, women have sole responsibility for farming and feeding their families. There have been various initiatives that work with women to support them and to increase the productivity of the land so that they can sell some of their crops.
Without education, the cycle of poverty continues
There are few health facilities in the Bindura constituency, and often electricity and piped water are not available. The provincial hospital is faced with a shortage of qualified staff. The fact that not everyone has access to health care is particularly worrying in light of the raging HIV/AIDS pandemic; health clinics are the only places where people can get medication and treatment.
Although additional schools have recently been built in the region due to the resettlement of people, there are still not enough and in many cases they lack furniture, textbooks, classrooms, teachers, electricity and water. Often, the nearest school is too far away for a family to afford sending their children there, or they need the extra help at home; small-scale farmers have to work extremely hard to make a living. If children miss out on education, this means their options later in life are limited, and the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.
What we do in Bindura
Two children doing their homework after school (photo: S. Kitshoff)
SOS Children’s Villages first began its work in Zimbabwe in Bindura in 1983.
Strengthen families: In recent years, we have continuously expanded our family strengthening programme in the region so as to reach as many struggling families as possible. The aim is to alleviate hardship and maintain family stability so that children will be safe and protected and grow up in a loving home. The social centres ensure that children have access to essential health and nutritional services, as well as education. We assist parents by providing guidance on income-generating skills and parenting practices, as well as counselling and psychological support where needed. Our support goes out especially to adults and children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. In cooperation with local organisations, we also work towards strengthening the support systems for vulnerable families within the community.
Care in SOS families: For children from the region who are no longer able to live with their parents, 15 SOS families can provide a loving home for up to 180 children. In each family, the children live with their brothers and sisters, affectionately cared for by their SOS parents
Education: The children attend the SOS Kindergarten, and the primary schools there. Over 2,000 pupils receive their education here. In addition, the SOS secondary school offers around 850 pupils practical courses, science classes and workshops.
Support for young people: When young people who grew up in an SOS family feel ready to move out of the family home in order to pursue further education or vocational training, our SOS Youth Programme continues to support them as they make the transition into adulthood.