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The Amatelaz project is based in Sakubva township, on the outskirts of the city of Mutare in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. It has been running for over ten years now, and was started by Nev Borradaile in response to a visit to AIDS orphans in the city. Amatelaz means “The Young Ones” and the aim of the project is to equip its 30 or so orphans for adult life. Many arrived at Amatelaz destitute, traumatised and despairing of the future, but through the work of this project they have made friends, received support, schooling and skills for life, and now look to the future with hope.
Amatelaz has many facets, but the lynchpin is its HOMEWORK CENTRE.
Based in the Presbyterian Church in Sakubva, the Homework Centre exists to provide a refuge and home to the children during the day, out of school hours. At the Homework Centre, the children meet the two caring teachers, Jacob Mashamba and Mary Mutasa, who help with homework, teach, encourage, and inspire; a nutritious meal is provided for everyone; spiritual support and growth happens via the Alpha course; news of Amatelaz activities is shared; and of course, the socialising has been really important for the children – having been so lost, they love being part of the Amatelaz family. Great friendships have blossomed, and the children support each other. Success in Zimsec O level exams have proved the academic worth of the centre too – and we have been able to accommodate a few of the church children and provide that little bit of extra support with their studies. It’s a helpful way of saying thank you for the use of the facilities!
On a Saturday, those Amatelaz children who wish to learn to sew attend classes at the One Way Centre in Mutare. Wendy Mususa and Mrs Manjera run the classes, and the children have made school uniforms, outfits for a fashion show, and items to sell in Zimbabwe and Britain. They have recently started a Cutting and Design course too!
A group of the Amatelaz boys have been learning the “Farming God’s Way” course. Having started this at a farm outside Mutare, they are now working with Onifaro Mususa (Wendy’s husband) on a plot in town. Of course they can sell or eat what is grown, and some have taken over ground outside their homes to establish their own veggie plots!
This photo is of the ground around Handsome’s home which has been overtaken as a vegetable plot – feeding the family who look after him.
MUSIC AND DRAMA
Another facet of Amatelaz is the teaching of Music and Drama. We have had various types of Music groups over the years, and currently have an Mbira group (pictured), ably taught by Onai. The children in the Music and Drama groups have worked hard to compete in the National Institute of Allied Arts Music and Drama festivals in Harare, gaining excellent results. The experience of travelling to the capital with Nev and staying overnight was new, exciting and broadened their horizons considerably.
SELF HELP PROJECTS
Sinior Patirishu is the star of the sewing class. Aged 19 now, Sinior has been provided with his own machine, and has started his own business. He has sold enough items now to fund himself through a Sewing Machine Maintenance course in Harare, adding another string to his bow.
Having successfully passed his five O levels last year, Decide has been helped to start a broiler chicken project in order to part-fund his A levels.
These projects are carefully thought through to produce the greatest impact on the child both now and for their future. Many of them express huge gratitude for the help, care acceptance and equipping that they receive from this invaluable project.
Children of Hope supports the education of 46 orphans and vulnerable children in the town and surrounding areas of Mutare, Zimbabwe. Nancy Chulu, project coordinator for Children of Hope works at ensuring the children are cared for by their guardians and are engaged in their education.
Operation Orphan has committed to sending US$4800.00 (roughly £3000.00) per year which covers approximately 55% of the total school fees. The balance is raised from donors within Zimbabwe.
Hope for Life has its origin in a small psycho-social research group in Mutare. Initiated in 2005 and led by Dr Ross Parsons a Zimbabwean Psychotherapist and Anthropologist. The purpose of the study was to explore the value of such groups for children with HIV. These have been widely used as an appropriate intervention across much of southern Africa, without clear evidence for their structure purpose or outcomes. The study also gave further insight into the lives of children living with HIV and also struggling in an impoverished urban living environment. Dr Parsons was able to get a clearer understanding of the forms of care that are appropriate to deliver the help they desperately need.
It is from this research that in 2008 Rev. Never Femayi, Dr Geoff Foster (Paediatrician) and Dr Ross Parsons established Hope for Life Project. Their aim is to help children and youths living with HIV cope with the devastating physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual impacts of the disease.
Operation Orphan has and will continue to provide small grants to help Hope for Life achieve their objectives.