Epworth woman provides for orphans

Otillia Bvuma has been caring for orphans at her Epworth homestead since 2004. Her project has been praised by the Ministry of Health and the Department of Social Development but the government will not give her a licence as it has declared the area unsuitable for human settlement. Undeterred by this, Bvuma has vowed to continue to house the children.

Otillia Bvuma
Otillia Bvuma

“The project, Kapano Children’s Home, started with seven children I took in from various places but the number of children in need has increased steadily over the years,” she explained.

Bvuma, 51, shelters, feeds and pays school fees for the children. To fund the project, she engages in cross border trading, selling her crochet work and farm produce. In addition, she appeals to various communities for support.

One of her prime concerns is the difficulty the children face when trying to obtain birth certificates and ID documents, both of which are essential for travel purposes and for seeking employment. She urges government to assume its responsibility of ensuring that orphans can access identification papers.

Bvuma had hoped to raise funds to build a residential facility, which would house many more homeless children. To this end said she had purchased a suitable piece of land, only to lose it to a Taiwanese businessperson, Tino Tshu, who claimed it had been allocated to him by the Local Board. A preschool run by Tuchi Foundation has since been constructed on the site.

Bvuma has vowed to take the case for the recovery of the land to higher authorities. If she fails in her bid to do this, she says she will be forced to turn new children away as her accommodation facilities are already over-stretched.

Members of the local community whole-heartedly endorse Bvuma’s efforts to care for orphans. “We commend what this woman is doing for children without parents, as she is playing an important humanitarian role, which really should be undertaken by government agencies,” said a resident, Miriam Mharakurwa, who called on government to assist Bvuma’s efforts and allocate to her the required land for the orphanage.

Peter Nyapetwa, Epworth Residents Association secretary for information, said his organisation would undertake investigations into the issue of the ownership of the land in question. He applauded Bvuma’s work, labelling her efforts a praiseworthy indigenisation initiative. “As an association, we will do everything possible to help Bvuma recover the land needed for the expansion of her project. If we choose not to act on her behalf, likeminded residents would shy away from assisting the needy whom government has let down,” Nyapetwa said.

Tshu told The Zimbabwean that the property in question never belonged to Bvuma as she claimed. “Tuchi Foundation bought the land from the Local Authority,” said Tshu, referring this reporter to Molia Thandi, the centre’s secretary.

Thandi concurred that the piece of land was procedurally acquired by Tuchi Foundation.

According to statistics from the Zimbabwe National AIDS Council, Zimbabwe has a child population of over 5.6 million. Some 1.3 million children are orphaned and over 12,500 live and work on the streets. Over 5,000 children are accommodated in children’s homes.

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