Privilege has been cared for by her grandmother, Endime, since her parents died. She attends school and helps with household chores. Drought destroyed Endime's Maize crop, which she normally grows on her acre of land. They have no animals, "not even a chicken," says Endime.
Image by: Richard Lord
Source: New World Outlook
A child fortunate enough to attend school discusses work with his teacher in Clare, Zimbabwe.
Image by: Richard Lord
Source: New World Outlook
World Outlook, November/December 2005
Chirpo Makowi Fandera is just 50 years old. She lives with her family in the
Glenview Falls section of Harare. She cares for 25 children in her home, six
of her own and 19 “dumped” kids.
“I don’t know who their parents are,” says Fandera. The
police bring them here, the welfare office brings them here.” The “dumped” kids
were dumped on the streets by their HIV-positive parents or
by teenagers who couldn’t care
for them, explains Farayi Tiriwepi, a community-based health-care worker with
the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) project of Africa University and
the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church. When the police or the Harare social
office pulls kids off the street, they try to find people who will care for
Fandera has cared for orphans since 1991. “I think God shall make
one of these kids I’m caring for a doctor or a prime minister,” she
says. She earns money to feed the children by selling soap and firewood.
son also provides a little income to help. She doesn’t have the money
to pay their school fees. The OVC project can help with that.
an administrative assistant with OVC, says that the government pays only the
fees for “level A” schools in urban areas. In order
for their children to attend school, rural families must pay school fees, buy
uniforms, pay into building funds, and buy school supplies. This can add up
to about $1000 a year.
The OVC program helps orphans, the majority of whom
lost their parents
to the AIDS virus, meet the requirements to attend school. The OVC program
specifically targets AIDS orphans who need help with school fees, food, and
health-care, the top three priorities. Case workers with the
spend much time in the communities talking to the children’s caregivers
and school officials to
identify the children in need and help provide for them. Sometimes they need
clothes, shoes, or soap; at other times, medical care. At present, they have
close to 400 registered in the program.
The $3 million startup grant for the
program came from a US family that was moved by the plight of AIDS orphans
in Zimbabwe. At present, there are about
in Zimbabwe alone - that is one in every five children.
“Are there many women like Chirpo Makowi, who will take children off the
streets like this and care for them,” Richard Lord asked Farayi Teriwepi. “Yes,” she
said. “Yes there are. Because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we have a lot
of these ladies who have been touched by the plight of the children and they
their homes and whatever else they have to care for them.”
Christie R. House is the editor of New World Outlook. Richard
Lord is a freelance photographer from New York City based in Virginia.
Who is responsible for
the children in Zimbabwe?
We asked Irene Kabete, a pastor in the Zimbabwe Annual Conference,
how children are cared for in Zimbabwe when their parents are no longer
Rev. Kabete: In the Zimbabwean culture, an
orphan is anyone who has lost one or both parents. If the father is dead,
then the child is an orphan, though its mother may be alive and caring
for it. Traditionally, if a man dies, his brother is responsible for
the surviving wife and children—he inherits them—but this
custom is no longer followed by many in Zimbabwe. If a mother dies, the
children are more likely to end up on the streets, since a surviving
mother will try to care for them, but a
surviving father is less likely to do so.
We have street children in Zimbabwe. When I was pastor of Innercity
United Methodist Church in Harare, I worked with them all the time. Some
were on the streets because they had no one; their parents were dead.
But some had parents, or more likely stepparents who abused them, so
they preferred to live on the streets. Some runaways had no good reason
for being on the streets. They saw their friends there and joined
In Zimbabwe and in most of Africa, the family is responsible for a child
who has lost parents. But our family is a great extended family, so grandparents
or relatives on either the mother’s or father’s side may
take the child. The state has nothing to do with raising the children;
it does nothing. In larger cities like Harare, the village can’t
be depended on either. It is not the same dynamic, but definitely the
extended family is counted on to care for the children.
At Innercity UMC, I started a feeding center at the church for street
children. But then there were so many coming, the church couldn’t
handle them all, so I went to the conference center in Harare to talk
about their needs. Between the bishop’s office and the Women’s
Desk, enough money was offered to buy a huge tent to set up the feeding
station, but we had no room for it, so it was set up at the conference
We counseled the children and in many cases were able to reunite them
with their parents. Sometimes that involved counseling the parents as
well. We’d promise to pay the school fees if they stayed home and
stayed in school. For those who had no parents or who were not able to
return home, we’d try to put them in an institution close to the
church to remove them from the streets. On Sunday they would come to
church. I baptized about 40 of them. Our goal was to get them off the
The Rev. Irene Kabete, a GBGM director, is currently studying for
her MDiv from Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, NJ, and working
at Park Avenue United Methodist Church in New York City
Nov 01, 2005