Promoting gender, children’s rights through developmental projects
By Lazarus Sauti
Life in Chikomba district in the Mashonaland East province is tough as gripping poverty is the order of the day and tormenting most, if not all, all the villagers.
Some families do not even afford to eat three meals per day; in fact, most families do not have goats to sell to pay school fees for their children.
As such, children, especially orphans are mostly affected and compelled to abandon their education.
Worse still, some children are abused in the form of child labour, as well as early marriages, a fact attested to by Makanaka Jera (60), a villager from Mangoro. “Poverty is part of our DNA in this area and besides farming and mining, there is nothing that can sustain us here,” she says. “Sadly, orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs) bear the brunt of this poverty as they are forced into early marriages.”
Pained with this plight of OVCs in the district, Reaction of Orphans Support Association (Rosa), a civic society organisation, initiated pro-developmental projects to support them as well as promote and propagate their rights.
“Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that all children have rights, no matter who they are, where they live, whether they are a boy or a girl and whether they are rich or poor, but the unbearable life conditions in some parts of Chikomba East constituency are curtailing some of these rights.
“Accordingly, we initiated developmental projects such as horticulture, soap-making, poultry rearing, dress making and goat as well as sheep rearing to promote and protect the rights to health, education, family life, play and recreation of these children,” says Rosa official, Forbes Chikobvu.
“Our aim,” he adds, “is to keep children in schools, thus we are paying school fees as well as buying uniforms for 55 OVCs in the district.”
Chikobvu also says some of the pupils that have benefited are those from Mangoro, Dembwa, Bimha, Sadza, Nangabwe, Mutengwa, Chirasauta, Mutoredzanwa and Domboremavara primary schools.
“We are also drilling boreholes at schools as well as helping all 38 schools in Chikomba East constituency to establish libraries so as to accord children the fundamental rights to develop their potential at all time regardless of gender or other status,” adds Chikobvu.
Angelline Machiridza, Sadza Primary School head, says out of the 38 schools in the constituency, only Mutoredzanwa and Sadza have libraries and this is curtailing the children’s right to quality education.
“Before Rosa and its projects to promote education, health living, fight poverty and ensure the availability of clean as well as safe water in the area, children and women were forced to travel long distances to search for clean water putting their lives at risk,” she adds.
Lamerk Chamboko (52), a villager from Mangoro and a member of a soap making project, applauds Rosa for transforming the lives of villagers and especially impacting the lives of children who are the future of this country.
“This area is characterised by very low rainfall pattern, but thanks to Rosa which drilled a borehole at Mangoro Primary School, we are now accessing water easily. The organisation also empowered us to start a soap-making project which is helping us to keep our children in schools,” he said.
“Before the developmental projects,” chips in Muchaneta Gomo (47), wife to Chamboko, “Three members of our family were not going to school, but they resumed studies after Rosa paid fees for them.”
Chief Chitsunge says the projects initiated by Rosa transformed the lives of many families in his area as they are ensuring access to basic services as well as equality of opportunities for children to achieve their full development.
“Significantly, they are helping in fighting gender abuse as well as keeping children in schools,” he says, urging community members and other organisations to support Rosa in fulfilling the requirements of the country’s supreme law and economic blueprint, ZimAsset, which speaks of sustainable development.
“Rume rimwe harikombi churu. Accordingly, I am urging individuals as well as other development organisation to come on board and support Rosa in promoting the lives of children, women and the community at large,” he says.
Manassah Watambwa, Mangoro Primary School headmaster, also says the projects uplifted villagers and decreased the number of school drop-outs as families are realising money from them and are affording to pay fees for their children in time.
Significantly, Rosa carries out project management training programmes to equip villagers with skills and knowledge to sustainably run these projects,
Recently, the civic organisation carried one such training at Mangoro Primary School, which was facilitated by a Canadian delegation from the Zimbabwe Project Canada, an organisation that supports Rosa in its pro-developmental projects.
“We trained 55 groups with eight to 10 members each as well as new villagers who are eager to join the life-changing projects,” says Chikobvu. “We taught them how to write project proposals, how to start and run sustainable projects, monitoring and evaluation as well as market research.”
Chikobvu says his organisation mooted the plan of project management training after realising that most projects were failing to succeed simply because members lack a better understanding of the various aspects of project management, a fact supported by ward 27 Pokoteke councillor, Lawrence Watambwa, who says the training comes at the right time as most projects were failing to succeed due to lack of knowledge.
“Most, if not all, people here struggled to prolong their projects due to lack of skills and knowledge. One team that is doing sheep and goat rearing in Nhedziwa village, for instance, lost about 10 goats due to lack of information to save the animals,” he said.
“Consequently, I want to thank Rosa for carrying out this training as it helps villagers to understand the parameters and requirements of different types of projects.”