Chris Musekiwa – UCAZ Communications Officer
The Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) on Monday 25 October 2021 handed over to the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa the Chambuta Children’s Home in Chilonga, Chiredzi North. The home, a former refugee camp established in 1988 to shelter Mozambican refugees displaced by civil war in that country, had last been occupied by the refugees in 1992 when they returned to their country after the civil war ended. The camp, then derelict with dilapidated infrastructure had become a ghost place due to lack of maintenance.
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa’ as part of her philanthropic work through the Angel of Hope Foundation identified Chambuta as a suitable place to provide shelter to children living and working on the streets of the various towns in the country.
The First Lady invited UCAZ to assist in the rehabilitation of the structures to make them suitable for housing children. UCAZ members responded to the call and adopted houses which they renovated and furnished. One local authority built a pigsty while another one built a goat pen, others donated water tanks, garden tools, and sports kits. Every one of the 32 local authorities contributed to the successful rehabilitation of the home.
For UCAZ it was a mission accomplished while for the First Lady, it was a dream come true. Handing over the home to Amai Mnangagwa before she officially opened the home, UCAZ President and Mayor of Gweru Clr Josiah Makombe said “what started as a thought, an idea in our mother’s heart, to transform this place into a place of safety and development for disadvantaged children has now become a reality.”
“When Her Excellency invited local authorities to assist her in renovating this place, at first we had no clue how this former refugee camp, in its state at the time, could be turned into a children’s home. But as Amai explained her vision, we slowly began to understand. I must confess, we have been won over and the results are here for everyone to see. As local authorities we came together under Amai’s guidance and wisdom and adopted houses which we managed to renovate,” said Mayor Makombe.
“Those who have been privileged to join the tour of this place will agree with me that urban local authorities, under the auspices of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) have done a great job,” said Mayor Makombe.
He added that the renovated houses had been named after the local authorities that renovated them.
“It took them a great deal of time and resources,” said Mayor Makombe as he also congratulated his fellow mayors, councilors and town clerks for a job well done.
The UCAZ President said that the First Lady had taught city fathers and mothers to show love through deeds.
“You have taught us to have a heart for disadvantaged children in a practical way. For it is our deeds that can have an impact on other people’s lives. Thinking about someone who is in need, loving and praying for them is not enough and will not change their situation. Love and prayers should be combined with action. We thank you most sincerely for teaching us to show love with deeds. We will take the lessons that we have learnt from you to our various towns and cities. We will also continue to work with you in other projects that you may come up with in the future for the benefit of disadvantaged children,” said the UCAZ President.
Mayor Makombe said that with the same spirit, UCAZ was going to embark on similar projects at other children’s homes. He added that Nyangombe, situated in Nyanga was another former refugee facility that UCAZ members would rehabilitate for disadvantaged children who are roaming the streets and being exposed to dangerous drugs, sexual abuse and delinquency.
“As local authorities and the third tier of government, we will work with central government through the Department of Social Welfare to change the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children,” said Mayor Makombe.
Mayor Makombe also said that the communities surrounding children’s homes should benefit from the vocational training offered at these places hence the communities should also contribute where they can.
“I, therefore, call for the sons and daughters of this community, those who have been blessed to have good jobs and businesses to plough back into their communities by supporting initiatives such as these. They can help by providing machinery and equipment for vocational training,” he said.
“UCAZ has facilitated the establishment of Chambuta Development Fund which is administered by a Board of trustees chaired by myself which is tasked with raising funds for the upkeep of, not only children at Chambuta, but children in other institutions nationally.”
The board has fundraising activities lined up, one of which is the second Chambuta charity golf tournament which is scheduled to be held on 27 November 2021 at the Hippo Valley Country Club in Chiredzi. Mayor Makombe invited the First Lady to be the Guest of Honor.
Mayor Makombe reminded the children housed in Chambuta that they were blessed to have the mother of the nation taking care of their needs adding that they should not take Amai’s love and care for granted.
“Do not disappoint her. You should appreciate what the mother of the nation has done for you by working hard for your future,” he said. “Amai does not want you to say when you grow up, nobody loved us, nobody cared for us. You have literally been thrown a lifeline by your great mother to enable you to have a better future like all the other children. So, I urge you to grab this opportunity and change your lives.”
Mayor Makombe urged the local authorities and the Department of Social Welfare to work together to improve the lives of disadvantaged children.
City of Masvingo’s adopted house was the envy of other UCAZ members and stakeholders as its lounge was furnished with a beautiful set of sofas, an LED television set, a DSTV decoder with a year’s subscription. The children that stay in the house were ecstatic saying that they are now up to date with what is happening around the world as well as enjoying entertainment from the various channels. Takudzwa (12), not his real name, was all smiles as he heaped praises on the Mayor of Masvingo Clr Maboke and Town Clerk Eng Edward Mukaratirwa for the thoughtful gesture.
“When we were told that Masvingo had bought sofas for our house we never thought that they would also install a television set and a DSTV decoder. We are so happy,” he said, his face visibly lit up.