United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
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The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) has been affiliated with Global Ministries and its predecessor mission bodies since 1893 and continues today as a longstanding partner of Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Mt. Selinda Hospital Orphanage was founded in 1955 as a mission to care for orphaned and abandoned children. On July 18, 1981, the home was renamed in honor of Daisy Dube, a local woman who was known for her love and care of children. An addition to the home was completed in 1998. Children come to the home with court orders from the Zimbabwe Department of Child Welfare. Many have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. Others are single or double orphans, due to HIV/AIDS. Several of the children are living with HIV. Currently, nine “mothers” and one “father” provide not only food, education, and shelter, but nurture and guidance throughout childhood.
Daisy Dube Children’s Home is home for up to 50 children ages 0-18. The home is laid out in a dormitory style, with a large girl’s wing and a large boy’s wing. There is an entrance and large dining area, centrally located. Restrooms in the boy’s wing were updated in 2009. In addition, a stove was purchased and work was done to the outdoor kitchen to keep the smoke from entering the room. Beds and new mattresses were purchased and now each child has his/her own bed. The children attend Mt. Selinda Mission School which is a short walk from the Home. There are ten staff members that care for the children around the clock.
When children reach the age of 18 they are dismissed from care. This is a challenge because they often do not have extended family to whom to return. They consider Mt. Selinda their home area. There is no funding for higher education or vocational training. Some children are employed by the local tea estates, although this arrangement provides little more than subsistence living. Children with behavioral problems or developmental problems are a particular challenge because there are no services for adults with disabilities. At present, a former resident has returned after being laid off his job and is living at the Home. He is 29 years old, developmentally delayed, and can do little more than tend the cows, a task for the youngest of children, to earn his keep. There is need for funding for reunification and higher education for these former Daisy Dube children.
Currently, Daisy Dube Children’s Home is in need of improving the diet of the children. The children eat sadza, mashed corn whipped to resemble mashed potatoes, three times every day. Sadza is the staple food of Zimbabwe; it could be supplemented with locally grown fruits, vegetables, and meat. The Home has a pig and goat project which gives the pork and goat meat. Goats are only killed on special occasions like holidays or funerals. There have a garden but seeds, fertilizer, hoes and fuel for tilling are always in short supply. There is a need for a farm manager to care for the garden and animals; as it is too much work for the caregivers who need to concentrate on the children. Child labor laws limit the time the children may work in the fields, although they are allowed to work when it will not interfere with their studies.
The Children’s Home building experienced delayed maintenance during the economic crisis of 2006-2009 and, at this time, is dingy and thread-bare. The building needs a fresh coat of paint, some tile to provide sanitary coverage of the pitted cement floors, and fresh curtains. It could also use improvements to the electrical system to provide light for study. The kitchen and medication storage area also needs to be renovated and there is a need for more plates, cups, cooking and eating utensils.
Funds are needed to build and further remodel the Daisy Dube Children’s Home to move toward a family style setting for the children. Family care is preferable to institutional care and children thrive, physically and emotionally, in this model. The Zimbabwe Department of Child Welfare has mandated that children’s homes make efforts to abandon the orphanage model of institutional care and move toward family care. This change will require a change in caregiving philosophy at Daisy Dube as well as an influx of resources.