Qinisani Home Orphanage: An Oasis in The Desert for Bulawayo's Orphans
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Having refused to be beaten by economic hardships, isolation and persecution, a group of widows in Nkulumane 5 (Ward 22: Cllr T P Moyo) have finally risen above the tide and come out with their lanterns shining bright, casting a ray of hope and love to all the orphans in the neighbourhood.
True to their name, Qinisani, “Strengthen” in English, have shown to be a real source of strength for all the orphans and other less privileged families in the Ward.
Formed at the turn of the millennium, its founder members had realised that there was a huge rift between the less privileged and other members of the community. They established the organisation with the intention of bridging this gap by presenting the less privileged children with a better chance in life and assisting them in maximising their opportunities.
The group, composed mostly of caring widows, has managed to acquire a piece of land from the Bulawayo Local Authority (LA) and secure a donor, Mr Laloo Jadavji, to build an orphanage home for the children near Sekusile Shopping Centre in Nkulumane 5. Mr Jadavji is the Managing Director of General Bedding and donated the building as part of his company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programme and also as a way of giving back to the Bulawayo community, which supports his business on a daily basis.
“We spent a lot of time looking for donors to assist us in this cause as we were faced by financial challenges. We identified Mr Jadavji and I spent a year trying to convince him that we were genuine and really needed the help. Eventually he was convinced and offered to help us. This building is the result. We are very grateful for his benevolence, and we wish that the Lord Almighty blesses him abundantly,” said the Home Orphanage Director, Mrs Yona Mpofu.
The building has a fully furnished kitchen, the fittings for which were donated by yet another city company, All Wood Cabinets. It also has a living room and other rooms that serve different purposes providing for the daily lives of the children. It also houses the administration offices of the orphanage home.
However, due to City by-laws, the centre can only accommodate the children during the day; hence they have to go back to their respective homes in the evenings. They are also still appealing to any other interested people and stakeholders to donate more furnishings for the other rooms and equipment for a recreational play ground in the backyard.
Despite this “minor” hindrance, the dedicated women have refused to throw in the towel and have instead opted to also use the premises as a study centre and feeding scheme for the orphans.
They also managed to secure the support of one of the City’s prominent business people, Mr Raj Modi, who operates a chain of retail outlets under the Spar banner. Mr Modi donated a consignment of at least 6 months food and, as a direct result of his benevolence, the children can have at least on single meal a day to add to that which they have at home.
“At the moment, we are feeding over 50 children on a daily basis. Some are still coming and we are still busy compiling our register so as to enable us to keep an accurate record of the number of children,” she said.
They also appealed to other businesses to emulate Mr Jadavji and Mr Modi by making donations to the home to support its day to day operations as they fear that they will find themselves in a difficult position once the current food supplies have run out.
In 2010, the women looked for yet another city businessman who assisted them by paying school and examination fees for 15 pupils. The children were vetted by the Councillor and were in Mandwandwe Secondary School.
Qinisani Home Orphanage works hand in glove with the Mayor of Bulawayo, Cllr Thaba Moyo, the Council representative for the ward, in identifying orphans that are in dire straits and need help urgently. The home is celebrated throughout the Ward for its non-discriminatory approach, as illustrated by the fact that its assistance for others is considered regardless of political affiliation, religion and tribal background. They strongly believe in the “one for all, and all for one” concept.
“Children from all over the ward now know about this place. Some are not orphans but from poor families hence it becomes difficult for one to chase them away when they come. They come and we just feed them all as we see that they are also in need like the orphans. In a sense, this place has become a very helpful place to all the children in the ward. Some come just to study as it is quiet in here,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Mrs Mpofu wrapped up by saying their ultimate goal is to get a bigger piece of land, where they can venture into income generating projects such as farming, candle making and so forth. She said this would enable them to be self-sufficient and not dependent on donor funding.
Moreover, she said this would assist them in imparting life skills, such as agri-business, carpentry, brick moulding and metal fabrication, to the older crop of the children who did not excel in conventional school nor did not get the chance to proceed further with their formal education.