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Goromonzi Project playground

Children play cricket at God Help Us Orphange in Zimbabwe, Africa.

Goromonzi Project, Bright Ngwerume Mercy Office, Goromonzi Project


Fifteen-year-old Bright Ngwerume (left) and seven-year-old Mercy Office—two of the orphan’s sponsored by The Goromonzi Project.

The Goromonzi Project

—JANET SHAW
In September I went to visit my mother and my extended family in Zimbabwe. September is getting to be the hot time of year, before the rains come, in late November.

One day I went along for a ride with my sister Fiona, when she went out to see some people in rural Goromonzi, which is close to the area where I grew up. Some of you reading this article may remember that a few years ago the children at Placitas Elementary School collected some schoolbooks and we sent them to the schoolchildren in Zimbabwe. Many of those books ended up at one of the schools in Goromonzi. When I go home, schoolteachers still come up to me in the bank or on the street to say thank-you for the books.

The man that Fiona was visiting on that hot day in September was Pastor Sikiani, who runs the God Help Us Orphanage. The people from Fiona's church have been trying to help him get water for the orphanage. Getting water is a big problem in Africa, but it's only a small part of this story, and so I will move on.

While the people who knew what they were talking about discussed the water problem, Pastor Sikiani and I watched the children play cricket.

Sikiani is a small man with a kind but serious face. He is sixty-two years old, which is considered old in Africa. He has a three-speed bicycle of uncertain vintage and every day he rides it thirty miles over rough roads into Harare and then thirty miles back. Or he used to ride it. The bicycle broke the week before I visited him. Sikiani used to go to Harare to speak to various organizations so he can raise money to feed not only the fifteen children who stay with him but also the six hundred other orphans in the Goromonzi area. The parents of all the children died of AIDS.

Sikiani speaks little English and I don't speak much Shona, so our conversation was limited at first.

“How much does it cost to feed one of these children for a year?” I asked him casually—mostly to fill in the silence. He told me about Z$ 2,400,000. I calculated the U.S. dollar equivalent in my head—about $100.

“And for school fees?” About the same.

“And school uniform?” Children in Africa usually have to have a school uniform before they can attend school. A little less.

I suddenly got excited. For $350 a year I could find someone to sponsor each one of these orphans. A dollar a day. I pulled my digital camera out of my handbag.

“Can I take some pictures of the children?” I asked Pastor Sikiani.
We called them all together; they lined up one by one against the fence of the vegetable garden and I took a picture of each of them. I found sponsors for every one of the children within three weeks of returning to Placitas and I have a waiting list of people who want to sponsor other children. I'm starting a nonprofit organization called The Goromonzi Project so that I can get all six hundred of these orphans sponsored. The Web site is www.goromonzi.org.

The children in Goromonzi don't yet know that they've been sponsored and that someone in America has paid for their school fees and school uniforms and for the food they will eat next year. I called Fiona this morning and she said that she'll be going out to Goromonzi with the news on Friday—provided the rains don't come before then and wash the roads away.

 

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