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.