Saturday, March 31, 2012
We have received email enquiries in the past weeks concerning our decision as an organization to put emphasis and focus on Early Childhood Development in Zimbabwe. I promised to give exhaustive feedback and in this blog I am seeking to give a bit of background and a brief Zimbabwean country context on ECD as well as what drives our involvement in this work.
The recent history of ECD in Zimbabwe reveals that in 2004 the provision of two years of pre-primary education in Zimbabwe (named ECD A and B) was instituted as a policy directed at all primary schools in order to insert at least two ECD classes for children in the 3-5 years age group. The basis for the formulation of the 2004 policy was a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into Education undertaken in 1999. The Commission found that many children in rural and poor communities did not have access to Early Childhood services. The aim of the 2004 policy framework is to make official the ECD programme under the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture. MoESAC, increase equity and access to ECD provisions, and enhance quality education.
The National Early Childhood Development (NECD) programme was addressed primarily to pre-school children in rural areas who had never had access to these services. A community development approach underpinned the roll out of the ECD centres. With limited focus on minimum criteria and lack of capacity at community level to make significant contributions, the standard of facilities and activities varied substantially. In 2004, a national review of the education system recommended that ECD be integrated into education structures rather than running parallel to them.
Most schools have no classrooms for the ECD children. Moreover, the number of children in each class was too large failing to meet the required teacher-pupils ratio of 1:20. Our experiences in some of the schools show that some of the teachers in ECD have as many as 40 children! In most provinces of the country a critical deficit of trained teachers with ECD qualifications has been discovered. Overall, the ECD A and B classes have been manned by untrained staff (para-professionals) and this practice militates against attainment of quality education. We are then involved together with the Ministry of education in the training of these para professionals so that they provide quality care and education to the children.
The analysis on health and nutrition revealed that many ECD centres in primary schools did not give food to children in school. In fact, children had to bring their own meal from home and in some cases the children had no food. Some of the children were infected from the ringworm/soil helminthiasis (STH) and bilharzia/ shistosomiasis (SCH), worm-parasites affecting their growth and development.
As Nhaka Foundation, we want to ensure that the children in the rural areas access these ECD centers. Our programs are not in competition with the government but are complimentary! We work only in schools that have demonstrated willingness to participate in the renovation, cleaning, upkeep and maintenance of the classrooms once refurbished. These are government schools some built as early as the 1930’s. We are there to make sure that the classes are of a modern standard, have safe equipment for children to use and that the children also get a meal each day.
Nhaka Foundation also then works with nurses from the local clinics who come in to check on the children’s health ensuring that the above mentioned worm parasites are contained and not spreading to other children. This work is not done overnight but is a continuous process of community engagement; activism and lobbying so that they learn the importance of early education, balanced diets and healthy children. That is why our programs are designed with a sustainability model so that these communities are able to move forward after we have moved on from their community to another.
I hope this gives more insight and understanding into how and why we are passionate about early childhood education and development.
Until next time,
When, indeed, shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are all members of one body? Until the spirit of love for our fellow men, regardless of race, color, or creed, shall fill the world, making real in our lives and our deeds the actuality of human brotherhood ˜ until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each others' welfare, social justice can never be attained. -Helen Keller
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Just a few weeks ago the government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Agriculture announced that the current farming season had not produced any crops that would be of sustenance to families and thus declared a drought. This means that the government and non-governmental organizations have to once again come in and provide some food aid, financing and other support to ensure that people and communities do not die of hunger.
For those closely following my blogs you will notice that last month I mentioned that the crop situation I saw when I was travelling around the country carrying out an assessment was pathetic. In the remote and most rural areas we drove past field and fields with stunted plants that barely resembled corn or maize. I also mentioned a couple weeks back that even though you could see foodstuffs in the stores, the people just do not have the money to buy the food on the shelves. Friends, families and children in this country are at the brink of starvation and we have to work together to see how we can mitigate the impact of this drought on families.
I am today particularly very thankful to God for the partners He has directed to us. In the next few weeks we will be rolling out programs that will see over 1000 children getting meals in schools. To some this will probably be the only meal of the day whilst to others this will be an add on to the already small measures they are given at home. Our friends at 2SecondsorLess.org (2SOL) will in the coming months be renovating preschool buildings, starting low input nutrition gardens and feeding the littlest and most vulnerable kids. Through a new partnership with ZoomAID UK we will also be feeding over 500 boys and girls per day first at one school and as the program develops roll out to other schools. This is real time action and a direct response to the threat of drought that is in this country. I am truly grateful to these organizations for stepping up and helping to support the work we are doing in Zimbabwe but more importantly reaching out to the children who without this help will be coming to school and going back home on empty stomachs.
We all can do something to help and thank you to those that have been sending us emails and showing that they can help albeit in a small or big way. As I always say, all hands on deck, lets get muddy as we go all the way to support these children who otherwise have no one else to look up to. Be the change you wish to see in the world!
Until next time,
Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them. -Francesco Guicciardini
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I travelled around the South Eastern provinces of the country three weeks ago on a visit that brought me into contact with both small and large non governmental organizations doing work in Zimbabwe. The real purpose of this visit was to establish the actors involved in early childhood programming and to visit some of the projects they were implementing. Before leaving Harare, we made sure that we had contacts in each and every town we were visiting so that we would hit the ground running as we arrived in each place. This proved to be a good plan as we were able to visit a host of organizations doing great work in Zimbabwe.
There were tow striking observations that I made though that really got me thinking about the role small organizations are playing. The first observation was that a lot of small organizations and by small I mean those that had less then 10 employees with about 30% being volunteers, were the ones that were carrying out the work. It seems odd hey but my colleague and I were really shocked because this you would easily think that the big organizations with big staff complements would reach out to the vulnerable communities. Shocking as it were we enjoyed being in the company of the Directors of these organizations seeing their programs and talking to the beneficiaries of the programs, the grandmothers who are being part of a food security program, the youth being given income generating activity skills and the young girls living at risk of HIV infection being given training. Really I was impressed by what I saw as these small organizations were busy at work not worrying about the salaries they need to pay at the end of the month or the office rentals. One director said, Patrick, God knows what we are doing and He is in charge.
In doing our rounds in the rural areas we saw several big 4x4 trucks emblazoned with logos of other "big" ngo's would zoom past us and at one point I wondered out aloud where these were headed and was told ahh these guys that is what they do here, just driving up and down. In fact I was challenged to phone one of the Program Directors of this big organization, but his phone was unavailable and when we got to Harare, I looked for him only to be told he was attending a conference in Switzerland.
We got back to the fun capital Harrrrare with a mission of visiting each of the "big" organizations to ask them whats going on? but we were overtaken by events as my colleague and I got busy with our own work and organizational activities. As I mentioned when I started blogging, we are going to have some gloves off conversations s I also seek to talk to some of our friends involved in these big organizations. They need to be accountable to donors and not hide behind their fingers and not do the work.
As you can see, my heart is with the smaller organizations as they reach the people at the bottom end of the food chain and can identify with their needs. This is what needs to be done, not to have high walls and large security teams that scare away people who have come to seek assistance, protection and direction.
Until next time, happy reading.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Dear friends, This week has been filled with some interesting insights of where the organization is heading. Part of our thrust and faith is that we should serve people. Thinking of this more made me realize that being a servant is not the easiest thing to do. You are called upon to make very very difficult choices and at most times you have to forgo certain pleasures as you serve other people. To me serving means giving of my time, my skills, knowledge, helping with physical work or sacrificing financial resources for causes that I believe I'm. I have found that in dong so I have learnt and grown a whole lot more as opposed to the days when I just used to expect things to happen for me. One of the things that I am so thrilled about is the ability to model our lives and be able to disciple people through the actions and not just the talk. Today I want to challenge you as you read this, working with us at Nhaka Foundation is not about giving funds towards the programs. You may be out there and saying well ai wish I could help in some way that is not financial. Indeed there is something you can do,like I always say we need all hands on deck. What are to good at doing? How much time do you have to do that which you are good at with a charitable objective in mind? Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss this. The reality of the matter is we each have a role to play in this work and it is not purely through giving of financial resources only. Let's join hands and make a difference in the lives of the orphaned children in Zimbabwe. Why pioneering mission? On Thursday morning I felt being called to embark on a pioneering mission to reach out to you all and be able to have face to face meetings, discussions, talks and the like. The form and nature of this is yet to be concretized but this is something that is now on my heart. If you have any ideas on how to further develop this please do send me an email through the various links we have on the Nhaka Foundation website or email above. Thank you very much to all the Nhaka Friends who have been sending us emails, prayers and thoughts. Thanks once again for visiting our Facebook page and for those who haven't please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Today we are launching the 100 likes campaign on Facebook. Go on tell someone about the work we are doing and invite them to like our Facebook page. Till next time, happy blogging. Patrick To change ones life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. -William James
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Dear Friends, I pray this finds you well. I woke up very early this morning and decided to go for a long walk. Just 1 kilometer into my walk I decided to turn back and head home because I could not stand the cold air brushing on my face. On my way back I met a number of kids already up and on their way to school, chatting noisily oblivious of the cold. I just laughed in my heart and I remembered the times that I too would not mind the cold as long as I was in great company with friends walking to school. The past few days have given me sometime to put certain things into perspective. We had friends visiting from the US for the first time to Africa and Zimbabwe and each moment I spent with them made me realize the importance of following our passions which ultimately make us realize and live the will of God for our lives. I was stunned by how we got to meet them and to hear the story that led them to come to Africa and to Zimbabwe. This is heart breaking stuff and to believers of the word of God out there, I would say you do not need to see angels in the sky for you to believe that God is there but you need to be aware of the faith enhancers that He sends our way. Through their visit I am excited that our volunteer program has kicked off and log onto our website to see how this is working. We are looking forward to be hosting people from diverse backgrounds and countries as they come to volunteer their time, skills and offer resources to help the children in need. Until next time, love and prayers from the fun capital, Harare! Patrick " One hundred years from today people should not care about what my bank account was, the car I drove, the house I lived in but the difference I would have made in the world" Patrick Makokoro
Friday, March 9, 2012
It has been a hectic week for us at Nhaka Foundation. Monday and Tuesday we spent in meetings along side colleagues from Child Protection Society, Child Resource Institute and JF Kapnek Trust. The meetings were to brainstorm and finalize data collection tools for a national survey on actors in Early Childhood development. On Tuesday afternoon the road trips began, with teams going to all four corners of the country to see what is going on. I travelled to East of Zimbabwe and was very shocked by what we saw there. I am not going to pre-empt the survey report, suffice to say that you are all going to have a look at it once we are done in two weeks time. That has consumed much of my time but we are really glad and fortunate enough to have the received funding from OSISA to do this work.
In the same vein we are equally happy to receive three American friends who are visiting from Pennsylvania, Maryland and California. We are excited to be hosting them as Nhaka Foundation and hope that their stay with us will be exciting and rewarding for them! Already we have been part of a hectic schedule with them but I believe this is what we were called to do by god. Being Christians themselves we are very excited that God is at work and rising up young men and women in the US who love God and want to be involved in the work we are carrying out in Zimbabwe. Their visit has brought a lot of confirmation to what I personally feel God has been saying to me about working with children in Zimbabwe. In addition the way we got connected with them is nothing short of a testimony in itself.
It looks like the rains are slowly leaving us, I am not happy with the crop situation that I saw when travelling and I pray that the many hands working to assist in Zimbabwe will be able to help coordinate some form of food relief. It is one thing when you are going around the country and you see that even though there now is food and products in the supermarkets and stores, affording such is the impossible for the majority of the population. With high unemployment in our country and with people unable to access the “Obamas” (the US dollars as they are known in Zim) it remains to be seen how best communities can be supported.
With prayers and love from the fun capital, Harare!
If you look for the good in people expecting to find it, you surely will. Abraham Lincoln