Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zimbabwe Orphanage Mission Project

Good Pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday to each of you Hymark Blog Followers!

There are not many chemists in the world who are fortunate enough to get as deeply involved in world missions as I am. Coming right on the heels of the Ukraine Church Partnership Mission I talked about on Nov 13th was another mission opportunity creating Orphanages In Zimbabwe.

While a Presbyterian now - our church denomination in the 80's and 90's, Church of Christ/Christian Church, consists of lots of independent church entities tied only loosely together through an association of churches. All congregations function independent of others. This feature makes large mission projects more difficult to launch because no one church congregation has the resources to fund them alone. That is where I came into the mission field – as a project leader and fundraiser.

I was approached by our Pastor, the same one as the one who spearheaded the Ukrainian Church Partnership Project. He wanted to know if I’d like to help develop an orphanage for homeless children whose parents and extended families have died of HIV/Aids. There were 78,000 such children walking the streets of Zimbabwe then - many more today. He briefed me on the Missionary family already living in Bulawayo who has a concept for creating a non-institutional orphanage.

My assignment, if I chose to accept it was to scope out the project, research the technical and financial resources that would be needed to fund such a project. All if that in a span of 4 weeks vacation from P&G!

The first step was visit with the Missionary family in Zimbabwe to see what their image of this orphanage was. We went to visit a half dozen institutions – classical orphanages where the children all slept in bunks – many in a room, boys in one wing and the girls in another. The non-institutional model was based on family units. We ended up with an orphanage with 100 homes – each having 6 bedrooms, 2 boys or 2 girls in each room on bunks. The concept they had was much more robust than other orphanages we visited. The orphanage we were developing would be essentially a village of 1000 children with elementary, middle and senior high school with emphasis on developing agricultural commodities and crafts to earn money to provide for the expenses of running the orphanage.

The ultimate objective is that these orphanages would be run by Zimbabweans for Zimbabwean orphans. Our job would be completed when it was turned over to the Zimbabwean Manager.

We next needed to meet with potential local resources (architects, builders, hydrologists, agricultural specialists, Educational consultants, and many others.
This was one of the most exciting projects that I ever worked on. I even got to meet with Robert Mugabe, the current Zimbabwean Dictator who is ruining the entire nation of Zimbabwe for personal gain. When I met with him in 1996 – he was President of the country. Really interested in our orphanage project because it helped the people of his nation. He was very down to earth and congenial. Within 2years of my return it was clear that he was more interested in keeping up his lifestyle than helping his fellow Zimbabweans. He sent the war veterans in to run off the white farmers and kill them if necessary to give the veterans some farmland and keep his prestigious position. Today the runaway inflation there is so bad that it causes the prices of things to double every 4 days. It takes more than a million Zimbabwean Dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Needless to say – this project was put on hold, at least in Zimbabwe given the political unrest there. While the concept is robust, it may have to be developed in neighboring Mozambique, Botswana or other African nation.

Ralph Taylor
Blogger Subbing For Ed Winkle Who will Be Back In This Spot Soon!

1 comment:

  1. That is a good story Ralph. I always give to these charities and now wonder why we don't help more here right at home. With our county's problem and the local ministries like the Father's Kitchen you work at, I think we are addressing that issue.