Meet the MRCH staff

Carol Banham, our Chairman, visited the Home in September 2011 and conducted detailed interviews with many of the staff members. She has produced an illustrated report of those conversations, which illustrate the many roles the staff undertake as well as highlighting issues concerning the staff and where they feel help is most needed.


8 House Mothers

Mercy, Lillian, Faith, Fungai, Mildred, Alice, Nancy and Sylvia. These  warm hearted ladies lovingly care for the children in the house units. Each of them has a family of their own, mostly grown up now, who they leave with other family members for 30 days at a time while they’re at MRCH then they have 10 days break to go home. All of them have very obvious pride in their homes at MRCH.

Mildred cares for 6 babies, all under three. Amelia is the youngest at 3 months old. I said it must be a lot of work looking after so many small children and she said “it’s not hard when you love little ones”

The other mothers each care for 11 –12 children ranging from 2 to 16. Once they reach 16 they move to live in the independence units where they look after themselves with help and support available from the house mothers when needed.

Mandy reports back on her visit to the Home in September (2005)

I have recently spent a wonderful 3 weeks in Zimbabwe, staying at MRCH. Zimbabwe is such a beautiful country, but what at mess it’s in right now. On a more positive note, MRCH seems to be thriving, despite the hardships. The children and staff now occupy the 6 new houses, where they live in family units, as opposed to the old dormitory system, where boys and girls were separated. They are all so happy, staff and children alike. It is especially good for brothers and sisters who can now live under the same roof. There are a few pairs of boy/girl twins at the Home and they are particularly happy to be living alongside each other. Each house has it’s own little garden, where they grow flowers and vegetables. The children take great pride in these. The main gardens too, are doing well, and the new ‘polytunnels’ are producing delicious tomatoes and pumpkins’

The main problem in day to day living is the lack of water. It is switched off for a few hours (or longer!) most days and after the children come home from school they have to go back and forth to the bore hole filling containers and taking them back to their houses. Needless to say, they never complain, they just get on with it, smiling and laughing as they go. Also, the electricity is constantly being cut off, so candles are always at the ready.

Building work is going ahead on the old Boys Department, to convert it to rooms and a kitchen for the older children. Unfortunately, work on the clinic seems to have come to a full stop. They are waiting for the plumber. These things can take so long in Zimbabwe…it is very frustrating! The nurse is still operating from a couple of rooms in the old Girls Department. I took a large bag of medical supplies with me. She was extremely grateful (even though some of the dressings had to be used on me when I mangled my foot on a rock!!!!).

My biggest cause for concern at the Home is the Creche. In the past they have had around 15 children (MRCH+ Staff kids) for a few hours in the morning, so the little room was adequate. Now they take children from the community, and for all day, so there are around 30-40 kids from 8.30-4.30, and they have their lunch + snacks there. The room is now totally inadequate, chairs and tables are broken, and dangerous, there are very few toys or teaching resources…even basics such as crayons and paper are scarce. Lunch and drinks are served up, and washing up done on an old desk in the corner. The children are divided into 2 classes (under 3’s and over 3’s) for teaching. They have to do this in the one room and the noise levels are unbelievable!! My dream for the future is for the building to be extended with a room for each class, a kitchen area for serving food and making drinks, with decent (and safe!) chairs and tables, plus new play and learning equipment. Also, the playground badly needs to be renovated, brightened up and made safe. At the moment it’s a health and safety minefield. While I was there a swing broke and a child was hurt (though fortunately not seriously).

Well, I had an amazing 3 weeks in Zimbabwe. I was treated like royalty. I think everyone felt encouraged by the fact that I was prepared to go out there and visit them in these difficult times. It was a privilege for me to be with them. We shared much laughter, and also some tears together. Despite the problems, a group of us went away for an idyllic weekend in Nyanga. It’s a really beautiful place and we had such a happy time there. I was so sad leave Zimbabwe at the end of my stay, but hopefully I’ll be back before too long.

Feedback from Astonishment’s visit to Saltash (2005)

The visit seemed to go very well. Saturday evening we had about 45 people at our house for a get together and buffet supper. This proved to be particularly good because some of our young people who visited Zimbabwe in 1999 and went to Matthew Rusike were able to relive their experiences chatting to Astonishment. Although they had not met him before a rapport rapidly developed.

At Sunday morning’s service we arranged a question and answer session with Astonishment and he spoke very movingly, touching a lot of people. We then had a church picnic where Astonishment and Bridgety paddled in the sea for the first time. In the evening there was an open-air service and again Astonishment spoke powerfully. (Some Zimbabweans living in the area turned up to listen!)

On Monday morning Astonishment and Bridgety visited an NCH run “Sure Start” scheme in Plymouth which gave them lots of ideas.

Altogether it was a great experience for all at Saltash.

Feedback from Astonishment’s visit to Oxford (2005)

We shall be glad to hear of any ideas to help further with practical support. We all enjoyed Astonishment and Bridgety’s visit and were moved by what they said at the evening held in the Principal’s House at Harris Manchester College. There were many interesting and probing questions which Astonishment answered skilfully and honestly. I hope the whole visit went well and you were pleased with the responses. The Zimbabwe situation does not improve. What a disaster.

Feedback from Astonishment’s visit to Orpington (2005)

We are delighted that Astonishment and Bridgety’s visit was so successful. It certainly was here in Orpington. Our minister came to a meal with us in the evening so that he could discuss the Sunday morning service with Astonishment. The parade service was buzzing and a great opportunity for him to ask Astonishment lots of questions. Afterwards so many people were asking how they could help. As you know we are already supporting MRCH at our Harvest project but wonderful news – an anonymous donor has very generously offered to match whatever we raise.

At Sunday lunchtime we held a lunch at our house and over 20 people came which gave a good opportunity for Aston and Bridgety to tell more of what they are doing.

Actually for us it was a humbling experience knowing just how very hard they both work to look after children and staff in their care, and we will try really hard to raise a good amount at Harvest time.

Feedback from Astonishment’s visit to Headingly (2005)

Just wanted to say how much all of us at Headingley enjoyed and appreciated your visit with Astonishment and his wife. We were really moved by how he spoke and the dedicated way in which he obviously runs the Matthew Rusike Home and looks after the children. We did record the service so that those who were away could also share in what Astonishment had to say. We have already had appreciative comments.

It took John and I (and others at HMC) most of the following week to come round from the emotion that Astonishment’s words created. We felt very humbled.

I do hope that Astonishment and Bridgety had a safe journey home. I’m sure that they would have felt very tired once they got home but hopefully encouraged to know that others are thinking about them and their work.

Bridgety Mapurisa’s thoughts on her visit to the UK (2005)

As we sat to reflect on our visit to the UK, we both could not say whether it was a business trip, or a holiday adventure. Indeed it had both components. We worked. We enjoyed! Thanks to the generosity of all our hosts. In fact, the whole trip was well organised that every next host family was like the previous one. We were thoroughly entertained.

This was my first time to experience real English environment. I expected serious cultural shock. Little did I know that people are people, wherever you go. Astonishment had shared with me about how good the Friends were. But I had no idea of the context all together. The trip turned out to be an exceptional holiday for both of us. It was one of those rare visits where we experienced the culture, and shared in it through staying with the people.

Every family expected us. They had made all the preparations to host us. THEY WERE ALL VERY WELCOMING! At Saltash, and Ringwood, we had the rare opportunity of visiting the beach. I had never been to the sea. I had never thought one-day l could paddle in the sea. Now I got the courage, I can even swim!!

My husband had never rested in his childcare career. Always busy. No time to break, and sometimes, no time for the children and me. This visit drew us together. WE both enjoyed every step. We strolled, we saw the British countryside, and we walked in town, courtesy of our hosts. We were able to go shopping. Our Friends sacrificed their family resources to make us happy. It was a buy schedule, but it was equally exciting.  This was one trip we will leave to remember. Our family resources are meagre, that we cannot afford a holiday. Thank God we just had one, courtesy of the Friends.

The least I can say is that the trip was well organized, we enjoyed it and that we successfully fulfilled the schedule. We benefited a lot. Astonishment is happy as there are more resources coming to help in his work. There is a lot of progress taking place at MRCH. We found our children happy and expectant. They enjoyed the presents we brought. Thanks to the Friends, we had enough stationary for all the home’s children. Paddy and Jenny made sure that we had a present for each of them. The children will also never regret being left for so long.

Astonishment Mapurisa’s thoughts from his visit to the UK (2005)

This was my second trip, but one with a difference. I found it to be a blessing as Bridgety and I needed time-out after many years of transitional hard work at the MRCH. The Friend’s decision to invite me to the UK together with my wife will always be remembered. The trip was hectic as the itinerary was congested, but it went on very well because I was not ‘home-sick’. With Bridgety on my side, we were determined to stay longer.

We had prepared a documentary on the MRCH, showing most of the current developments: from the new housing units, the clinic and the Community Based Orphan Care Scheme. The trip took us to over twenty-two different and well-chosen destinations, including five NCH projects and addresses to church services. All our hosts were excellent and exceptionally hospitable. This is without exaggeration! Every step of our visit was enriching socially, spiritually and professionally. Bridgety and I remember all our hosts with great love.

We enjoyed the opportunity of showing the video, and our audiences received it with great excitement and enthusiasm. I also enjoyed visiting so many new destinations. We are sure it made positive impact on creating new partnerships and friendships. Bridgety and I also felt great relief realizing that there were so many Friends who were committed to champion our course in the UK. The care and concern that our hosts showed us was very therapeutic. We feel encouraged even today.

Visits to the NCH projects were also very essential. It was reinvigorating to see models of best practices. I am in the process of revisiting my vision and enhancing project write-ups having been inspired by these visits. Our stay with the Withingtons, the Banhams and subsequent meetings with the Bromleys gave us wonderful professional and moral support. I cherish their experiences and enjoy their support.

All those strolls we took in the countryside and in towns, we still remember and cherish them. We pray for all the Friends who sacrificed their family resources to make us happy. Indeed, we came back refreshed. Paddy and Jenny can testify that indeed Bridgety and I paddled in the sea. Ruth and Bob gave us sea-side experience too. Next time we swim! God less you all.