Michelle Nyanzira, Chronicle Reporter
Communities have been challenged to identify vulnerable children so that they can be taken into children’s homes as most of the facilities are running below capacity.
Speaking during a tour of John Smale and Khayelihle orphanages in Bulawayo yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke said due to Covid-19 the Government was committed to ensuring the children are comfortable.
He handed over donations valued at about US$6 000 that included masks, sanitizers and wheelchairs to cater for children at the orphanages during the lockdown.
“We are calling upon people who know children who are vulnerable from rural and urban areas to bring them to these institutions so that they are catered for by the Government. We also want to interact with staff and see whether they have any challenges. We distributed sanitizers and masks to ensure their safety as we are going through this Covid-19 era,” he said.
Superintendent in charge of John Smale Mrs Evelyne Shura said: “We have a capacity to have 72 children: 36 girls and 36 boys but for the meantime we have 38 children- 26 girls and 12 boys. We teach the children survival skills through keeping pigs and chickens. There is also gardening. Our children are making it in life. One child is at the University of Zimbabwe studying law, the other one is at Women’s
University studying social work and another is starting this September. Some are doing well manually as one is enrolled at Ebenezer doing Agriculture.”
She said the home faced challenges.
“We don’t have a vehicle to ferry children to hospitals or when they have tours, we rely on our province,” she said.
Mrs Shura appealed for help to renovate some dormitories amid fears that ceilings may collapse. Director of Khayelihle Mrs Vimbai Vuma said they have 48 children – 26 girls and 22 boys.
“We are grateful to have received these supplies as they will help us during these trying times and we will be able to keep our children safe,” she said.
Deputy Minister Matuke also visited ChildLine Zimbabwe that defends and promotes the rights of children through provision of safe, confidential and child friendly reporting and counselling.
ChildLine Matabeleland South Region Co-ordinator Mr Douglas Jumbe said anyone who knew a child that was being abused should call the 116 tollfree help line.
“We have been able to provide these services free of charge, courtesy of the Government that supports us through Potraz,” he said.
Most children were calling because they had lost a relative and we would offer debriefing support making sure they are able to accept what had happened and move on with life. During this time when we are losing a lot of loved ones and are not given time to grieve there will be many calls. We have been receiving calls about violence against children where they are being abused by people they know.
We are happy to say that through the buddy system together with the department of social development we have managed to follow up on some cases and used the national case management system. As a result, we have removed some children from those places, conducted counselling to parents and family group conferences.”
Deputy Minister Matuke applauded ChildLine for playing their role of protecting children with [email protected]