In 1996, the idea to establish an orphan care project in Natisa Matopo, a southern province of Zimbabwe, was brought forward by a group of local people in this community. With their families torn apart by HIV/AIDS, poverty, unemployment and inflation, the Natisa people wished not for an orphanage but instead looked for a way in which orphans and grief stricken families could be brought together. Sethule Trust was invited by the local community to work with them to bring practical expression to this vision, which has rapidly been appropriated by the rural community of Natisa since 2004.
In 2005 Sethule Orphans’ Trust was establised in Natisa Matopo, 70 km from Bulawayo. The Trust aims to integrate orphans into families. Furthermore, it focuses on orphan care and bereavement counselling programmes in some of the poorest rural communities of Matabeleland.
The food crisis in Zimbabwe, made worse by recent droughts, continues to be a great challenge to local communities. Sethule, in partnership with other organisations, is able to provide a feeding centre for orphans and poverty-stricken children under 5 years old.
In accordance with the local community’s needs, Sethule Trust set up pre-schools for orphans and local children, adult literacy classes, bereavement counselling programmes as well as a self-help garden project to feed the orphans and create self-sustainability. Birth Certificates are actively sought for all orphans. Workshops on Positive Parenting, Conflict Resolution, Career Guidance, Politics & Religion, and Traditions; Self-help courses on Bee-keeping, Knitting, and Poultry management; Youth Programmes on Sexual Awareness (REACT), and HIV Awareness (Dare to be Different); Sports & Games Vacation Competitions (ATTIC), and Drama Presentations, are also regularly conducted.
Sethule Trust is dedicated to helping the rural communities, and does not discriminate on religious, ethnic, or tribal backgrounds. The pilot orphans care project was duplicated to other surrounding rural communities, namely Tsholotsho and Hope Fountain. The Sethule Orphan projects have been introduced to other communities, who are encouraged to manage on their own, and demonstrate self-sustainability.
Why Rural Zimbabwe?
The acute humanitarian crisis of 2009 left almost half of Zimbabwe’s population (5.5 million people) unable to feed their families and reliant on food aid to survive.
Over recent years, the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has somewhat improved. Despite this, problems of food security (due to recent droughts) and outbreaks of cholera still pose a constant challenge to the Zimbabwean people. The cost of living compared to wage income in Zimbabwe keeps on rising.
Childhood is unfortunately a time of struggle and hardship for many Zimbabwean children. This is reflected in the rise in cases of child-headed families.
According to UNICEF reports:
- Zimbabwe is one of the five countries most affected by HIV/AIDS worldwide.
- An estimated 1,102,864 million people (1 in 5 Zimbabwean adults) were living with HIV and AIDS in 2009.
- Approximately 66,073 people died of AIDS related causes.
- 1 in 6 children in Zimbabwe have lost one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS.
- Zimbabwe has the 2nd highest orphan rate in the world!
- There are about 100,000 child-headed households in the country. This consequently is forcing many children to have to work to survive.
- More than 35 000 children in Zimbabwe are in need of Anti-Retroviral Therapy, unfortunately only 17 000 are accessing the these drugs.
- Young adults (primarily girls) make up half of all new HIV infections, of which many are discovered only at pregnancy.
- Orphaned and hungry children sadly reflect upon the breakdown of the family unit and the extended family traditions in society.
- The World Food Programme and the government are providing food aid to 1.58 million people in 37 regions across Zimbabwe.
- Average life expectancy is 50-55 years.
Sethule Trust is convinced that each rural orphan child deserves a chance to compete in the world on equal terms with any other child, and will fight to reach that goal.
Sethule Trust is governed by the underlying principle that people should be helped to carry their own burdens.
|Thabbeth Cotton BA SRN
Orphan care Co-ordinator
- Emarika pre-school for orphans and local children was built and opened at Natisa with an enrolment of 28 children, which has since increased to 40.
- The annual ATTIC vacation youth camp for 60 students was inaugurated in August. This has now become a much-awaited highlight of the calendar for local youth.
- A second pre-school, Salika, was built and opened in Halale, where currently 52 children are enrolled.
- Sethule’s first ever orphan university student, graduated in December.
- The gardening project was developed to be large enough to feed Emarika pre-school; to date it provides food for all the orphans.
- A 70-metre deep borehole was sunk to provide water for the local community.
- A second Sethule orphan student graduated in December from the University of South Africa with a marketing degree.
- Despite various problems encountered during the drilling of the borehole there was finally provision of enough water for the Emarika pre-school and for those homes close by.
- A maize grinding machine was installed and a building constructed to house it. This enabled local people to have their maize crop ground for their staple diet and generated an income for orphan care.
- A system of individual ‘donor parents’ was set up to support specific orphans in need.
- The REACT (Reject, Expose, All, Child, Trauma) and D2BD (Dare to be different) programmes were commenced in schools.
- A dormitory, Ko Andrew, to house orphans coming for bereavement counselling programmes, and other workshops was completed in June.
- Solar-driven computers were made available to primary school children in rural schools.
- One of the Sethule orphans graduated as a Pre-school Teacher Trainer.
- The Voices in Development (VID) programme was set up to promote skills training and vocational development in rural schools. Computer Driving Licence training was set up for teachers and school children in all rural areas served.
- Through the impact of the REACT and DBTD programmes at rural schools, teenage pregnancy in the rural communities served dropped from 11 to zero.
- One of the Sethule orphans competed in International Athletics tournaments.
- Two classes at the Pagathi rural school were entirely renovated with the help of English Martyrs Catholic Primary School, London, UK.
- In cooperation with the Society of Paediatric Medicine of Hull York Medical School, UK, a Christmas Shoebox Appeal for the orphans of Sethule Trust was launched. Info SoPM Shoebox Newsletter
- A total of 3800 school children in both rural and city schools to date had taken part in the REACT (Reject, Expose, All, Child, Trauma) programme run by Sethule Trust.
- With help from the Leysin American School (LAS), Switzerland, Whitewater secondary school was entirely refurbished and electricity installed.
- The second Society of Paediatric Medicine of Hull York Medical School, UK, Christmas Shoebox Appeal provided special gifts for Sethule orphans.
- A visiting GP provided free medical consultations in rural areas.
- Two Sethule orphans completed a 2-year cookery course and found employment.
- Three primary school classrooms were renovated.
- A pre-school play centre, and new toilets were constructed.
- New pre-school tables were provided.
- A Senior School office was installed, and water and electricity supplies connected.
- A completely new Pre-school at Hope Fountain has been constructed
- A huge Africa map was painted at the Whitewater Secondary School.
- The Science Laboratory at Whitewater Secondary School was repainted and refurbished.
- The Emarika pre-school was painted and the floor and walls tiled.
- The first play centre was established at Phakathi rural pre-school.
- Through REACT, a reduction by 55% of case of sexual abuse was recorded in the communities served.
- Through D2BD, a 70% reduction in student reports of general anti-social behaviour was tabulated.
- VID recorded over 200 graduates of the Computer Training programme.