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