Tekeshe Foundation transforms local community

The Tekeshe Foundation is the brainchild of Thelma Sithole and it focuses on empowering people in the rural areas of Chipinge through education and the provision of health services.

Thelma Sithole (second from the right) with members of the poultry and rabbit initiative.
Thelma Sithole (second from the right) with members of the poultry and rabbit initiative.

Sithole established the Tekeshe Foundation to carry on the work that her parents began when she was just a child.

“When my parents first settled in Rimbi village there was no governmental infrastructure and the area lacked adequate educational and medical facilities.

“My father believed that self-sufficiency was the key to leading people out of poverty and into economic growth and independence. He felt that this could be accomplished through education and hard work,” Sithole said.

Give a man a fish

Mr. Sithole believed in the saying: “If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day. If you give a man a fishing rod and teach him how to fish he will eat for a lifetime.”

Realizing the need for a clinic in the township, Sithole said her father joined forces with a missionary doctor, Franklin Donaldson, to organize the local people to build the clinic themselves.

As a way of carrying on her father’s legacy, Sithole said launched the Education Programme that ensures that boys and girls from low-income families in rural areas go to school.

“Since the death of my father, the foundation has provided financial assistance for fees and uniforms. We have assisted 86 local youths to get an education. These are 50 primary, 30 secondary and six tertiary school students.

“One of the students, Martin Sibanda, recently completed his teacher-training course and is now working as a primary school teacher,” she said.

Sibanda said he greatly appreciated the work of the foundation.

“As an orphan, there was no one to help me complete my education. But, sister Sithole helped me to realise my dream and I got my teaching diploma. She supplied everything for me,” he said.

Health programme

Sithole embarked on a health programme that supplies Rimbi community clinic with medicines and equipment for those who cannot afford medical insurance. The Foundation is working through partnerships with the United Church of Christ in the hope of providing free medical care to HIV and AIDS patients who cannot afford treatment.

On December 19, 2009, The Tekeshe Foundation donated an ambulance to United Church of Christ Zimbabwe and Rimbi Community.

“Under this programme, local doctors and “Doctors without Borders” from abroad

have made visits to Rimbi clinic to check patients, enhancing the capacity of the clinic to better respond to the needs of HIV patients,” she explained.

Simon Bangano a beneficiary of the home-based care programme said:

“Had it not been for sister Sithole, I would have been dead. I do not have money to buy any medication, but she has come to my rescue and I am doing well, at least for now.”

IT training

The Foundation has also distributed food and clothing to over 1000 people in Rimbi and surrounding villages, as well as setting up a computer training project.

“Some of the young people in these rural areas have never even seen a computer. Now young people receive training in computer skills at the Tekeshe Foundation vocational school. So far we only have two computers, clearly we need more computers and printers,” said Sithole.

“90 percent of the funds come from me. I work as software engineer for Fidely Investments in USA. I use some of the money from my salary to fund the programmes. I also use money from two children's books I wrote,” she said.

In future, Sithole hopes to build a library and a youth centre.

“Through our partnership with Books For Africa we plan to distribute books to 10 rural schools in Chipinge district. I plan to start the Junior Master Gardner & Africa Globe projects Zimbabwe. The pilot projects will be conducted in Rimbi village this year. I am also working on starting the Youth Ventures program in Zimbabwe,” she said.

For more information on the projects visit www.tekeshe.org.

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