Zimbabwe has the highest number of orphans in the world, largely as result of HIV. The churches we work with are firm believers in the Biblical mandate to support orphans, laid out in Psalm 82:3 “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” Despite facing dwindling monthly collections, these churches seek to care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) by establishing holistic orphan care ministries. A holistic approach entails looking after the physical needs of orphans – food, clothes and shelter – while offering spiritual, mental, financial, and social support. 

As result of this project, church leaders and representatives have been trained in programmes such as livelihood production centres, holistic orphan care ministry, parenting, family budgeting, and child protection. Volunteers have been trained in psycho-social development, child protection, sexual reproductive health, advocacy, care and support, and structured visitation, and 230 caregivers have been trained in money management, gender, and family participatory decision making. Churches have provided agricultural training, village saving schemes to empower women, and gender equality awareness campaigns. 

Renita’s Story

Renita Sibanda is a 67 year-old widow, breadwinner, and guardian to three children. Her two grandchildren, Sibanesenkosi Ncube and Themba Ncube, entered her care when their mother died of AIDS, and Kayla Sibanda was adopted by Renita in 2010 when her mother, Renita’s neighbour, was no longer able to care for her. According to Renita, life has not been easy. Putting food on the table, sending the children to school, and meeting their basic needs is a constant challenge. 

Visitation and assistance from the church has provided Renita with basic resources, as well as counselling and emotional support. Church activities have provided the family with a community. Our partner’s goat pass-on project has provided the family with goat milk, and they have started a small vegetable garden using the goat manure, further boosting their food security and income. Renita Sibanda expressed her gratitude, saying: 

“Blessed is the hand that gives than the one that receives. I have no further words to say but to thank God for raising a church and community that has a heart to care for the orphan and vulnerable children. We now feel loved and accepted everywhere in this community. I also feel closer to God than before, because we are also taught to read our bibles and pray every day. It’s a joy to watch my family happy and hopeful about the future. God remembered us at the right time. To all who are a source of our joy, may you find fulfilment in all your endeavours.  God bless you all.”