Today, members of the ACN Peace Committee had the chance to get a better look into the heart and soul of Midlands Children Hope Project. Technology was not our friend today as we tried to connect via skype with Lene. Lene works with Midlands and sit on the board of directors and is currently in South Africa. Because of our technical issues, Lene sent a long e-mail in response to the many questions that ACN Peace Committee members had and we wanted to share the story of Midlands and the children of Gweru, Zimbabwe as told by Lene here.
How did Lene end up involved with Midlands?
“I started off as a volunteer in Antelope Park on the medical & lions project. After spending 8 weeks in Zimbabwe, and getting to know all the kids at the orphanage and the street kids, I felt that I had to do something more. I couldn’t just go home, and continue my life like nothing had happened. When I signed up to become a sponsor through Midlands Children Hope Project, Anita (manager) asked me if I wanted to join the organization. I didn’t even have to think twice about the answer, cause it was obviously that I wanted to do something more for these kids. I met Anita and Thomas, who were the ones who started the organization in February 2012. We sat down to have a look on what I could do, and how I could be a part of the organization. I started off being in charge of all the sponsors, and to get the sponsorship program up running in a better way then it was. Last year at this time we had 30 sponsors, now we are close to 90 sponsors. These sponsors all pay on a monthly basis, and are paying everything from 25NOK/month, to 500 NOK/month, all depending on what they can afford and what they want to pay. This money goes to paying for 38 kids in Gweru, Zimbabwe’s third largest city, to attend school.“
Who is Midlands?
“Today we’re five people working in MCHP, all volunteerly. I’m the project manager, and Ida has taken over my role as in charge of the sponsors. We’re taking all the administrative costs ourselves, because we want ALL the money to go where it’s meant to, to the kids.
There’s five Zimbabweans also working full time at the orphanage and the drop-in. These are not getting paid at all. We’ve asked the question “why are you doing this, when you could have a job where you could get paid?” The response we’re getting then is:”if we’re not doing it, who’s gonna take care of these kids?” We do pay for the school fees for their kids, but other than that they’re not getting anything in money. MCHP does have 5 Norwegians, and 1 from New Zealand (who’s MCHP New Zealand).
Where does the money that MCHP gets from sponsors go?
“The last year the organization has grown bigger, and as we got more sponsors, we’ve also got more money. This is why we’re now not only supporting the kids so they can attend school, but we’re already started building a new orphanage for them. The orphanage they have today is really small, and there’s 24 boys at age 4-16 years who’s living there, and sharing the 13 beds they have. At the new orphanage we will have room for about 80 kids, and they will all have their own beds! We will also be able to take in the street girls at the new orphanage, and that’s a thing we’re not able to as of today. The girls are often owned by some very rich men, who’s abusing them in all kinds of ways, and after everything they’ve been through, we cannot put them together with a bunch of teenager boys.“
ACN Peace Committee is collecting bottles to cash in and the money will go to Midlands. But is it enough, worried students ask?
“The money will absolutely make a difference, and there’s no such thing as a small amount, cause everything helps. 5 NOK is enough to give a child a hot meal! And 50 NOK is enough to buy rice for the orphanage, and there are 24 boys – for a week. So everything really helps!”
My name is Wilson, and I’m 17 years old. The first time I came to the orphanage, I was a kid. Now I’m a grown up. To live on the street gave me a lot of challenges. Often I went a whole day without food, and some days I found something to eat. The bigger boys bullied my, and started fighting me, to get the food I had found. In wintertime it’s worst living in the streets. I didn’t have any warm clothes, no blankets, nor any place to stay. Before my parents died my life was so much easier. We lived in a rural place, but it was better then living on the streets. The reason why I had to move was because no one could take care of me, and it had to quit school, while all the neighbor kids still attended school. I met Mr. Ndou (Question) in 2006 in the streets of Gweru. He talked to me and decided that I could move into the orphanage. Here I was able to start school, we got food, and the people were so full of love. I feel safe at the orphanage, and really want to thank everyone who helps us to be able to live here.
Why do you do what you do?
Well, we might not change Africa, or even Zimbabwe. But we are changing the lives of the people we’re helping. We are giving them a better and brighter future, and we’re giving them a chance to actually change their lives, and to become something good in life. And we know these kids. It’s not just some kids we saw on TV, and felt sorry for. This is Tafadzwa, Wilson, Edmore, Piniel, Munashe, Tatenda. These are all the kids we know, these are all kids we really love, and we really want them to have a good life. Tatenda is now turning 5 years, we found him at the streets when he was 4 years, because his parents threw him out once he started getting sick. They didn’t have money to take him to the clinics, so they threw him out. My nephew is the same age, and I would never let my nephew stay on the street. And in just the same way, I would never stop fighting to get all the kids off the streets. These are kids that told us their stories, while we both were crying. These are kids that, even though they have nothing to smile for, they’re the most happy and thankful people I’ve met in my entire life. These are kids that’s never experienced having someone that look after them, and that cares about them. But these are all kids that really deserves it! They deserve to be given a chance in life, just like everyone else!