At Shinga Development Trust’s Lerato Children’s Home, nearly two dozen orphaned and abandoned children were living in darkness this past year. The country has struggled with crippling, rolling blackouts, leaving the children and millions of Zimbabweans without electricity for roughly 20 hours a day.
For us and our longtime partner, Margaret Makambira, who had just in the past year completed construction of the children’s home – the situation was untenable.
“Zimbabwe is experiencing blackouts up to 20 hours daily cause lots of distractions to the orphans at the home,” reported Margaret in November. “Children cannot do their school assignments, and food is going bad.
“The need of solar instillation is crucial so life can be easier for the children,” she said.
She turned to us, and we turned to our supporters, who quickly and generously provided the $3,000 necessary to install solar panels. This will ensure that Margaret and the children in her care will have all the electricity they need – and at no cost for years to come!
At the Lerato Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, schoolchildren do their homework in the evenings by the light of kerosene lamps which are widely used for lighting in rural areas of Africa where there is no electricity.
Not only does the low light damage the children’s eyes, but exposure to the kerosene fumes can cause toxicity if inhaled and may cause respiratory irritation, as well as being irritating to the eyes and skin, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, acute and chronic exposure to kerosene may result in CNS effects including drowsiness, convulsions, coma, and even death, according to the WHO.
Kerosene is also an extremely volatile, flammable liquid that can quickly cause an out-of-control fire if a burning lantern is knocked off a table.
The orphaned and abandoned children and youth ages 3 to 18 who have been living at Lerato since it was founded in 2016 know how fortunate they are to have found a loving home operated by long-time Bread and Water for Africa® partner Margaret Makambira, executive director of the Shinga Development Trust.
At Lerato they have the basic necessities of life to be healthy and thrive, and are grateful to have the opportunity to go to school.
In the evenings after they have eaten their dinner by the light of a kerosene lantern, there is nothing more these dedicated students want to do is to be able to study and read – but under the dim light their young eyes are easily strained.
Zimbabwe is currently facing its worst economic crisis in 10 years. According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate from August 2018 through August 2019 was at 300 percent, the highest in the world.
This summer, Zimbabwe experienced what has been described as “an economic and social meltdown” with the Zimbabwean dollar in freefall and the Reserve Bank printing excessive amounts of money. Meanwhile, there are acute shortages of water, fuel, and electricity across the country where power cuts of up to 18 hours a day have destroyed daily life and what little is left of manufacturing. Residents and businesses are experiencing 18-hour blackouts daily, and Lerato is no exception
So what’s the solution? Solar panels on the roof of the children’s home, says Margaret.
Even the Zimbabwean government is seeing the light after earlier this year removing barriers to solar energy expansion by removing import duties on solar-energy related products – and even mandating that all new construction in the country include solar systems to address power shortages such as what is happening there today.
After partnering with Shinga to construct the Lerato Children’s Home, Margaret turned once again to Bread and Water for Africa® for help in having solar panels installed on the roof of the building ensuring that the children there would have plenty of bright light in the evening to do their homework, instead of straining their eyes to read and do their homework.
The cost is $2,700, a large amount of money in the impoverished country where inflation is rampant, but a small sum when considered what it will purchase – free unlimited electricity for the children at the Lerato Children’s Home.
Our goal is to raise these funds by the end of the month and we are asking you today to contribute what you can – it’s past time for the children of Lerato to be studying by the light of the 21st century, not the 19th century.
Last March, a catastrophic cyclone by the name of Cyclone Idai devastated portions of Zimbabwe leaving hundreds dead and many more missing.
“In some parts of these regions whole families were swept away by the water that had flooded the rivers or were submerged in mud and rock slides,” reported Margaret Makambira , executive director of Shinga Development Trust, a longtime partner of Bread and Water for Africa®.
In the aftermath of the terrible storm, Margaret learned of a school in the area known as Chipinge which had suffered extensive damage, and that the people living the surrounding community had no food.
“Due to the devastation, most families lost part of their houses with some losing their crops,” she told us. “In this regard, most families now had to rely on handouts from well-wishers for survival.”
In a time of great need for the 946 students who attend the school, and the school itself where its latrines had been destroyed, Angela turned to Bread and Water for Africa® for help.
With emergency grant funding from Bread and Water for Africa® new latrines were constructed providing reliable sanitation facilities for the hundreds students who attend the school and their teachers.
“We have averted a health hazard that could have emanated from a lack of proper and adequate toilets,” said Margaret .
In addition, the grant funding, made possible through the generosity of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® made it possible to feed all 946 students for an entire month.
“In time of need, Bread and Water for Africa® has once again come to the aid for Africa, particularly Zimbabwe.”
Alisa’s tale is a story of tragedy and hope. The little 6-year-old had gone through a lot in her young life – being physically and emotionally abused and becoming infected with HIV. She understandably is emotionally disturbed and has difficulty concentrating.But all is not lost for Alisa thanks to our partner in Zimbabwe, Shinga Development Trust which operates the Lerato Children’s Village.
There, she has found a home filled with love from her “sisters and brothers” and more importantly Alisa has found a place forever in the heart of her new-found “mother,” Shinga director Margaret Makambira. As Margaret told us of Alisa and the other Lerato children, “Their stories are sad, and they don’t know what real love and genuine caring is.However, we are certain that Alisa, who started first grade this month, in addition to what she is learning in school, is also learning that lesson of love and caring more and more with each passing day.