It is important that all children receive an education. At MRCH most of the children go to local schools, which must be paid for. FoMRCH pays school fees to local schools (and some children receive external sponsorship to go away to boarding schools to do O and A level courses). All children must have school uniform and shoes to attend.
At the Home the children can also learn tailoring, carpentry and basic computer skills. Each family unit has it’s own garden in which the children learn to grow vegetables and then learn to cook them in their own kitchen. They may learn to look after rabbits, guinea pigs, goats and chickens to sell or eat.
Who made me where I am? by Trabby
“…The Home also taught some skills, which are lifetime skills like gardening, hospitality, computing, pig-rearing and fowl-rearing. Above all, Matthew Rusike introduced me to God where I can surrender the problems which are difficult for the Home to solve. Therefore Matthew Rusike is my parent.”
The National Director, the nurse, other staff members, an HIV/Aids expert, and local business leaders all speak on a regular basis to the 12+ children about life skills, keeping healthy, diet, sexual health, rights and careers guidance. The staff try very hard to widen the children’s horizons beyond the confines of the Home and school but shortage of vehicles makes this very difficult.
MRCH Secondary School
A study group was registered by MRCH in the 1980s as a community resource to help secondary age children with their homework. In 2007 it was formalised into a small secondary school for children from the local community outreach project aged 13-16, whose families couldn’t afford to pay the full fees of secondary education. In 2009, 6 qualified teachers (with degrees and some studying for masters degrees) joined the staff at MRCH. The vision for the future was to transform it into a school where more subjects would be available and it could become an official examination centre for O and A level exams.
To apply for school status the building was refurbished, new toilets installed, 3 new classrooms with storerooms built and new furniture bought for them. All this was made possible by generous groups like the Liverpool MWiB in the UK raising several thousand pounds, money from FoMRCH and gifts in kind from local business and trades people and volunteers. The school was officially registered with the Department of Education in 2013 and UNICEF donated some books for the library.
In 2011, 250 teenagers from the local community were registered at the school.
In 2014 Barclays Bank donated a security door with a Chubb lock so that the school could qualify as a National Examination centre. The old classrooms were painted and new uniforms were made. In 2015 a generous UK donor sent the money for all the sports teams to have sports strips which they wear proudly when playing against other schools and clubs. Money was also dontated for some new Zimbabwean text books but many more are needed for all subjects.
There are still many needs for the school as one teacher said:
“We desperately need [money for] text books for the Zimbabwe curriculum and English novels for extra reading” Teacher
There are boys and girls football and basket ball teams and in 2014 a generous UK donor gave money for them to all have team uniforms. These give them self confidence and a feeling of equality and pride when they play against external school teams.
In 2016 the school finally achieved all the official requirements and became recognised as an official examination centre for external O and A level examinations.
From 2016 to 2018 9 local community students who had worked hard and done well in their O level exams had been personally sponsored by UK donors to study A level courses for 2 years.
The school is open to vulnerable children and young people from the local community who pay a reduced fee to attend. MRCH and students’ fees pay the teachers’ salaries, not the government.
The MRCH residential children attend local schools off site so that they meet children and families from the local community.
The Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD)
The one room crèche has been extended to include 3 classrooms, kitchen and toilet and washing area. It opened in 2011 with 54 children divided into 2 classes of 3-4 year olds and 4-5 year olds. Most of the children are part of the community outreach project in Epworth, the rest live at the home and include a small number of children of MRCH staff. When the buildings are all completed they hope to have around 100 children and another teacher
To encourage sustainability, the ECD has been completely fenced and these youngest children help to rear rabbits, guinea pigs and goats for sale and food. They are now also growing their own vegetables.
Shelley Cooling a Mission Partner through the British Methodist Church worked at the Home for an eight month period helping to set up the new extended ECD. She wrote regular newsletters for us. Shelley was also part of the team providing support and training for staff across the national early years projects. The intention was to create understanding of the power of play as therapy and to develop relationships with the children that encourage emotional well being and skills for the future.
The National Director (Astonishment Mapurisa) meets this group regularly. It is an opportunity for children’s concerns and opinions to be aired.