Hope for Aids Orphans

By MARTINE STEMERICK 2005 was not an easy year for most Zimbabweans. For orphans, the obstacles of finding food, shelter, and money for school fees were almost insurmountable. But in Bulawayo, a determined grandmother has energized her church and community to provide hope and practical support for o

ver one thousand orphans across Matabeleland. Her name is Sheba Dube, director of Providence Orphans and Caregivers Trust [POCT]. Working out of a closet-sized office at Main Street Methodist Church, “Auntie” Sheba is a magnetic force for good, gathering up suffering children and constantly searching for the food, clothing, and school fees to provide for their physical and spiritual needs. With over 1020 children on the books, POCT is more than a full-time job for its unpaid director and her army of faithful volunteers. Facing hyperinflation and a 5000 percent rise in school fees, Sheba seems undaunted by a mountain of problems: “God will provide.” In 2005, POCT provided school uniforms, books, fees and kits for 137 orphans; in 2006, the number has risen to 154 as a result of Murambatsvina. Seventy percent of the beneficiaries are girls. Archbishop Pius Ncube, whose compassion for the poor has led him to speak out tirelessly, marvels at Sheba’s efforts, calling her a “wingless angel” for her ministry to Christ’s poor. The key to Sheba’s success is care in the community. Mobilizing an army of carers is not easy, but Sheba has enlisted the good will of high school student clubs, the Rotary, and other civic-minded organizations to help care for the orphans in after-school Kidz Clubs, summer camps, and Christmas programmes. Sheba arranges for relatives or widows to care for the orphans, while POCT provides food and school fees if necessary. Churches collect food and blankets, used clothes and toys, which are stored and handed out in celebration services. With the number of orphans and child-headed households growing, POCT earmarked 2005 as its expansion year. Programmes for disadvantaged children began in two small villages: Avoca in Filabusi and Masenyane in Lupane. Monitoring the new programmes proved challenging because of transport problems. POCT does not have its own transport and relies on hiring trucks to deliver food rations received from friends. Sheba said, “Transporters charge us $30 000 a kilometre in addition to us sourcing our own fuel. Initially we were buying at $50 000 a litre. The price has since gone up to $105 000 a litre and is likely to go up again soon.” Something had to be done. Ever resourceful, Sheba came up with a creative development solution for feeding the children: grow the food in large gardens next to the school. In Avoca, the school donated the land and contributions were raised to fence it. With diesel increasingly unavailable, Sheba has applied to donors for two oxen and a plough. The oxen will be used not only to plant maize and vegetables to feed the orphans, but also to plough fields for other villagers to earn money for the children’s school fees. Other development projects include the purchase of sewing machines, fabric, buttons, etc. and teaching the widows and girls to sew school uniforms for the orphans POCT supports and also to sell to parents who need to buy uniforms. Before the rains came, Sheba encouraged the villagers to dig holes for 100 orange and natches trees, which promise fresh fruit in the future. Zimbabwe’s orphans are in good hands as long as Sheba Dube can continue her loving work. POCT depends on friends for funding and supplies. Contributions can be sent to: Alvaston Methodist Church – The Zimbabwe Fund, c/o Revd Dr Martine Stemerick, 137 Shardlow Road, Alvaston, Derby DE24 0JR. To receive a copy of the POCT 2005 newsletter, write to [email protected]

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *