|Giving hope to the hopeless|
|Thursday, 21 June 2012 12:00|
THREE-year-old Tapi and Tate walk around barefoot in Hwange Town from Number One Village to the nearest shopping centre, unperturbed by the smell of wafting coal dust. Daily, they play and at the same time, scavenge for their meals and they are not so choosy either, since anything edible to them is a meal. Tiny as they are, they know everyone who comes their way and show off their yellow milk teeth in typical smiles for attention.
Tapi and Tate are male twins and have not seen their 17-year-old mother for four days. The mother left the twins and another two-year-old child at home with an 87-year-old granny as she disappeared into the township to look for some “piece jobs’’. This is routine and there are many children like them in Hwange.
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old girl who has just dropped out of school after she lost both parents is getting ready for her “nightshift’’ at the Truckers Inn, where she sells sex to haulage truck drivers.
She has been working all day doing laundry for the “gonyet men’’ (euphemism for truck drivers) who are in transit to the neighbouring countries. Hate it or love it, the ‘’gonyet men‘’ still need her services at night. As a sundowner, the truck drivers rest at the bar at the inn as they lust and lick their under-lips for scantily dressed small girls. The rest of the mishaps are stories of life and death, writing themselves in the bowels of the mining town of Hwange!
Here, poverty has stalked small children into scavenging and young girls as young as 12 into prostitution.
As the society has responded with fear, denial and blame to the plight of youngsters living in such environments, some have opened their hearts and ears to listen to them, seeing and touched by the plight of vulnerable people, orphans and underprivileged children in the Hwange community, Ugogo uma- Mpofu, Gogo maMpala and Gogo uMaNcube organised themselves and formed a drop-in centre for feeding the children using whatever food they source from their homes and pockets.
The three women are not simple women but have become the mothers of the Hwange community who are giving hope to hopeless- orphans and the vulnerable children — they are the Good Hope Mothers.
The three mothers were bonded together as a singing trio at their church. They sang and comforted mourners at funerals and the patients in hospital. It was from there that the three mothers learnt about the act of helping the community.
“We were inspired by the way our church helped the widows that is when we organised ourselves to extend our hand to those outside the church,” said Stella Mpofu, is also known as Gogo maMpofu.
The group realised that, outside the church, many other underprivileged people in the community also required help and especially the children who had lost parents and orphaned as a result of the HIV and Aids pandemic.
Good Hope Mothers started their operations August 1, 2005 with 23 children they picked up from the streets and got assistance from the Township Aids Action committee which is under the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe through the Hwange Urban District Aids Action Committee. Although they were getting help from the organisations, the three mothers continued to fork out resources from their pocket to assist the community until today.
“We are so fortunate that our husbands understand and agree with us whenever there is something to do with the community and the orphans. It is as if the share the same mothers with our men because they always support us,’’ says Gogo MaNcube.
Good Hope Mothers has initiated a programme of helping the disadvantaged children in both Hwange urban and rural community through supplementary feeding schemes, the provision of social needs such as food, shelter and clothing. They also offer life skills such as carpentry, agriculture as well as catering, they provide psycho-social support through counselling and guidance for the orphans and vulnerable children of different age groups.
In supporting the mothers initiative, traditional leaders such as the late Chief Hwange have donated 10 hectares of land for farming and 1,2ha of irrigation farming, Hwange Colliery Company has also provided the premises of the garden as well as water and electricity for them. They also have 20 volunteers who help them in doing gardening and cooking for the children.
The mothers are looking after more than 400 children within and around Hwange. They have established three points within Hwange where they feed and provide skills for the children.
They have reduced dropouts from local and primary school by 90 percent as the mothers pay fees for the children who are unable to pay. A notable 70 percent reduction in malnutrition cases has been reported from the catchment clinics and there has also been remarkable change in behaviour resulting in a more positive attitude.
There has been an expansion of their initiative into rural communities carrying out similar orphans and vulnerable children activities as they have introduction of larger scale farming in the nearby rural village to assist in the sustaining of the programme.
Although the mothers are parenting the community of Hwange, the limited food resources and agricultural inputs for the donated 10 hectors draws them back in achieving their goals, there is also the limited resources for life skills development such as computers and sewing machines just to mention a few.
The mothers, who still believe in taking their initiative to a higher stage, believe there is an urgent need for a relief home or an orphanage as some of the kids have lost both parents.
They also confirmed that the numbers of new enrolment of orphans are in the increase at the centre due to the high death rate of HIV and Aids infected parents hence a high food demand for these children.
Meanwhile, the three mothers have poured out their hearts to the vulnerable children in this community, they remain motivated to their goals of providing psychological and spiritual assistance and solace to the orphans and vulnerable children.
Their hearts and minds is with these children, they believe that everyone has got the privilege of having a home and love despite their background.
Good Hope Mothers have established their shelter between Cinderella and Number 1 Village, one of the residential areas in Hwange Town which is sited adjacent to the Truckers Inn stop, an area which is said to be causing havoc to the youngsters of Hwange especially young girls who will be after the truck drivers.
‘”It is everyone’s role to play a motherly figure in your community despite the financial constraints one faces in life,’’ said the mothers.