Values in Life
The aim of Zimbabwe SOCIAL is to strengthen the children’s personalities and to give them a place of safety and acceptance, where they can learn good values, receive advice and exchange ideas and information.
Young people have many questions and are looking for honest answers. Many of the children in Zimbabwe are also traumatized or left to their own devices through the loss of one or both parents or other misfortunes. AIDS is one of the main causes of this situation and the children themselves are often already affected by the disease. It is therefore important to us to teach them biblical values, through cooperation with Christian organizations, and to support the children so that they can grow into mature individuals who can look positively to the future.
Development has to a large extent to do with a change in consciousness. Poverty is not only an economic condition, but is also anchored in people’s consciousness. For this reason we conduct regular awareness training sessions. These include health education, information on diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hygiene training, family planning, social justice, women’s and human rights, healthy eating and environmental awareness.
Bible Clubs in Schools
The people of Zimbabwe are 85% Christians. Since there are few Bibles in the country, people do not know how to implement the faith in everyday life. Scripture Union, an international Bible society, has developed concepts for schools, using good biblical material to teach students about the Christian faith.
Scripture Union is also committed to working with the street children in Masvingo. Many children have lost their parents to AIDS and have no one to care for them. Scripture Union runs a house where the children have regular contact to the personnel and can shower and get something to eat. The work relies exclusively on donations.
A Major Challenge – Social Work During the Covid Lockdown
Scripture Union provides help for children and young people in Masvingo – and faced a huge challenge during the lockdown. Work cannot continue as usual. But Scripture Union (SU) finds creative ways to stay close to its protégés.
In the city centre of the small town of Masvingo there is a small bookshop. Here you can buy Bibles and Christian literature. At a time when money is very scarce in Zimbabwe and everything is becoming more and more expensive, it is a challenge to spend money on Christian literature. Clara, the saleswoman and employee of Scripture Union, told me that they are happy if they sell one or two books a day. She also has time to talk to people about God and faith. But that’s not all that Scripture Union does in Masvingo. If you walk through the small corridor to the back, you come to the office of Ndina Situhole, the manager. With her I went to visit primary and secondary schools. In many schools in Zimbabwe there are Bible circles organized by Scripture Union (SU). For this purpose, two teachers are selected who are responsible for leading the groups. The people of Zimbabwe like to make music, sing and dance a lot. Many SU groups also include a choir. Ndina knows the teachers and keeps in touch with them. Whenever she is financially able to do so, she visits the schools to guide, sing, and encourage the children in the SU groups in their Bible work. Highlights of the joint work are the SU camps, where the school students meet regionally for a weekend to celebrate Jesus together and to get to know the Bible better. Former students often visit these camps again, as they are encouraging highlights for everyone.
In addition, SU has a kitchen, a small classroom and a garden with a fireplace and watering point at its headquarters in Masvingo. Children and young people who live on the streets come here every day. There is a back entrance to the headquarters, which can be reached via a remote sand road. Some children stay overnight with their few belongings right outside the door. They can then wash themselves and their clothes at SU, receive a hot meal and spend time with the employees, who teach them to cook and play football or help them to be reconciled in the case of disputes. SU is very close to them and notices when the children stay away for a while. Then they walk through the streets looking for them. The state authorities are also aware of SU’s commitment and phone Ndina if for example, a child is in prison or being held by the police. SU then takes care of them in prison. In times of lockdown, this is a massive challenge. Only grocery stores are open. SU is also closed. But contact with the children who are currently housed in a training centre remains. Ndina visits them regularly.
SU also has a shared flat where children and young people who decide to go back to school are allowed to live, They are resocialized there and prepared to go back to their families, if they have one. There are currently five children living there. Goodness, an employee, is “mother” to the group. She is at the headquarters in Masvingo during the day and works with the street children. She takes care of everything, including health care when they are sick. A Don Bosco school gives street children a new chance and admits them without them having to pay the school fees. They are aware of the problem and work in cooperation with SU. It is often very difficult for children and adolescents to get used to normal everyday life. I am very happy that some of the children I met there in 2017 have made it. They have persevered and have now been going to school for two years. It was hard work to motivate them to do it. Beate Nagel