Child Integration Zimbabwe (CIZ) — a non-profit organisation that helps orphaned children by fostering them into families and helping the guardians with all the basic needs — has spread its wings into the rural areas where it has identified 15 orphans that it will help look after beginning January next year.
This week CIZ founder and chairperson Shorai “Samaita” Mutasa (45) led a delegation to Musiiwa Growth Point where he met the newly-identified children who had gathered at the growth point in Shamva.
“We are spreading our wings into the rural areas,” he says. “Many children are dumped with their grannies in the rural areas when their parents pass away.”
He said the grandparents experience serious difficulties looking after the children who are often very ill having been born HIV-positive.
One of the orphans’ mother died of an Aids-related illness, leaving a two-month-old baby boy with a foster parent. The boy, now one year and two months old, was born HIV-positive and his health is unstable.
“Most of the children dumped with the old grannies have stunted growth and are severely malnourished. Besides providing them with school fees, we also give them supplementary food.”
Besides orphans, the organisation, in special cases, also looks after disabled children. One such is Gift Tozivepi (9) who was born with cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound.
His father is struggling to raise him properly. He needs pampers and other stuff that will help him live a comfortable life.
“I need help,” his father Peter says. His major challenge is, he says, to send the boy to school. “He needs to go to a special school but there is no such school in the area and the schools, wherever they are found, are expensive.”
Mutasa’s passion for orphans was born out of personal experience. He was four years old when he lost both parents.
He was lucky that a close relative took him into her home and looked after him until adulthood. He developed a keen interest in the plight of orphans and decided that he had to help if he could.
“I grew up comfortably,” he says. “My niece took good care of me; but when I look back I shudder to think what could have become of me if I had not been taken in by her family.”
He says he detests having children put into orphanages.
“Many orphans are headed into orphanages or homes,” he says, “but those are like prisons. We don’t want children to grow up in institutions that resemble prisons.”
He explains the concept of fostering: “Children should be placed within families where they grow up in an environment where they have guardians who raise them as their children. This concept isn’t new; other people are also using it.”
CIZ is a private voluntary organisation which is properly registered and complies with the laws of the country. It has been running since 2017 and has 76 children under its care in Epworth and Hatfield in the capital Harare.
“We make every effort to foster the children into families that are stable where their guardians are ready to raise them as their own children.”
But the guardians need support.
“We don’t just dump the children into these families,” he explains. “We have to support the families, wherever and whenever we can. So we identify orphaned children and then identify the families into which we can foster them.”
CIZ provides food, uniforms and pays the children’s school fees and caters for their health expenses.
One of the guardians, in her eighties, and herself suffering the ravages of old age, said: “We thought the Good Samaritan was only in the Bible.”
For sustainability purposes, Mutasa implored the local councillor to give the project land so the guardians can grow foodstuffs for the children with CIZ assistance.
CIZ worked with Development Assistance from People to People (DAPP) to identify the Shamva children.