It was only 2008 when Zimbabwe faced one of the worst economic collapses in history. For years, the country was a major tobacco producer. The appropriation of almost all commercial farms and the reduction on the demand for tobacco led to sharp falls in production in the agriculture based economy. The country has since endured rampant inflation and critical food and fuel shortages. Today, 32% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition. Many Zimbabweans survive on grain handouts, and the poorest people are fighting for the little resources available.
Many much-needed professionals have left Zimbabwe. As a result, the cost of education and health care continues to exclude the most vulnerable people from receiving basic and essential services. 23% of girls are married by age 18 to older men; only 1% of boys are married by age 18. With a lack of education and a lack of value placed on women, a shocking 50% of adolescent girls (age 10-19) justify being beaten by their husbands.
The cost and difficulty of accessing health care remains a major challenge for the most vulnerable families in Zimbabwe. Few can afford treatments or transportation to medical facilities. 68% of orphaned children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Prohibitive access means people do not receive treatment in time, and many children and adults pass away pre maturely.
In the current economic environment, people from the local church in Zimbabwe are also trying to merely survive. Often, the most vulnerable are not cared for. Hands at Work is supporting and encouraging volunteers from the local church to care for orphaned children and widows in their homes in the midst of their own poverty. This sacrifice and dedication to bringing holistic care to those most in need is bringing hope to the most vulnerable families in Zimbabwe.
We envision the local church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphans and widows, and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.
Orphaned children (age 0-17): 1,300,000
Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS: 890,000
Under 5 mortality rating (per 1000 live births): Female – 82 | Male - 95
Secondary School Attendance:
Female – 50% | Male – 50%
People living with HIV: 1,400,000
Life expectancy at birth: Female – 53 | Male – 54
Lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 53
Country rating (out of 187) on the Human Development Index: 156
– Sources: UNAIDS, UNDESA 2014, UNICEF 2014
As the Care Workers invested into her life, Kamali has learned how to trust and interact with others. The deeper the Care Workers have invested into her life, the more that they have been able to find out about her story.
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Prudence shares her story and the journey that has led her to fully trust and serve in South Africa.
When Nicholas* was just five years old, both of his parents tragically died in the same year, leaving him in the care of an uncle. His uncle was emotionally and physically abusive but with no one else to turn to, Nicholas was trapped in his home. His uncle refused to pay school fees so Nicholas was unable to attend school. Nicholas’ Aunt Mildred* visited the family and was appalled by Nicholas’ physical and emotional state.
Today I met Sarra*. A mother of three, who lost her husband sixteen years ago. Left as a widow, her husband’s brother came in and “claimed her”. He used her solely for sex, and she bore two of his children in the subsequent years. He took no responsibility for her or her children, and has now completely abandoned them.
Care Workers are the key in bringing healing and transformation to the lives of our children. They are men and women from the local churches within our communities who recognize their Biblical mandate and answer their call to care for the most vulnerable children. They demonstrate what it means to give freely, love unconditionally, and sacrifice everything. Often, Care Workers face their own traumas and live in dire poverty, just as the children they care for do, but their determination to persevere and care despite their own circumstances challenges everyone they come into contact with. They are greatest in the Kingdom of God!
At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Farai tells his story of following Jesus in Zimbabwe, and how compassion for the poor and a desire to mobilise the local church has defined his life.
Jade joined Hands at Work in February as a volunteer from Australia, committed to serving in Africa for one year. After orientation in South Africa she travelled to Zimbabwe where she spent one month building relationships with the team of local leaders, and gaining a deeper understanding of the vision and heart of Hands at Work.
Honde Valley is a desperately poor community in Zimbabwe. It is here where 8 year old Nomsa* lives with her mother, Maiba*, 34, and her sister Grace*, who is 15 years old. They stay in an old house that desperately needs repair.
At just four years of age, Gideon became an orphan, losing both his mother and father after they had suffered from long illnesses. Gideon has become the man of the house. He bears the weight of responsibility to find work and give his family a daily chance of having food on the table.