Midlands Children’s Hope Centre (MCHC) was founded in 1996 by husband and wife team Question and Happiness as a response to the growing number of street children living in Gweru, Zimbabwe. The centre works with orphans and vulnerable children and runs a rehabilitation shelter in Mkoba township, west of Gweru. Currently the shelter has 24 boys, all of whom attend the local school.
The Centre also runs a Drop-In Centre for children living on the streets, with the aim of rehabilitating them into mainstream society and education, and reunifying them with their families. A community kitchen at the Centre caters for the city’s destitute with a free meal for them each weekday. Without it, they would go hungry and many would be forced into criminal activities to survive.
The Drop-in Centre is a crucial part of the overall project for the MCHC, as all the children who now reside at the orphanage were once street children themselves. Through the dedication of staff and volunteers who work at the Centre, they are able to build a relationship of trust and hope with the children who use the service. This often encourages them to stop living on the streets.
Here is what some of those who have benefited from these programs have to say:
My name is Tafadzwa Ndlela. I am 15 years old. After my mother passed away I stayed with my father and my stepmother. Sometimes my father would go to South Africa and my stepmother would abuse me very badly, beating me, giving me too much work to do, and denying me food. I could not bear this anymore and I ran away and I went to stay with my grandfather. My father came back from South Africa and took me back home but my stepmother did not stop her abusive culture. I then decided to run away and I went to the streets of Gweru. There I met some street kids who I became friends with. They took me to the Drop in Centre and I met Mr Emmanuel Muchemwa who asked me some questions about my life. He took me to Mother Ndou (Happiness) who asked me whether I want to go to the orphanage. I was very happy because I did not enjoy street life. Now here I am at the orphanage going to school, having food, clothes, shelter and people that I now call my parents who cares about me. Now I can see a bright future.
I am Wilson Tshuma aged 17 years old. Currently I am doing form 3. When I first came to the orphanage I was a very small boy. Now I’m grown up. There are many challenges I faced when I was living in the streets. Some of the times I would spend a day without eating though sometimes I would manage to get food. Sometimes the bigger boys who were bullies would beat me up and take all my food. During the cold season I would face more challenges like no warm clothes, no blankets and no shelter at night. Before my parents died life was not as difficult as I experienced in the streets. It was a rural set up but it was better than living on the streets. The reason why I had to leave home was that there was no one to take care of me and I had stopped going to school whilst other children of my age from our neighbourhood were going to school. I met Mr Ndou (Question) in 2006 in the streets of Gweru and he spoke to me and I decided to go to the orphanage. I started going to school and we were eating nutritious food and the people there are so loving and caring. I feel very safe at Midlands Children Hope Centre. I want to thank all the people who support us.
I stayed in the street for three months and life was very very difficult. At times I would eat rotten bread and Sadza. Life was not easy because I would get food from garbage bins and eat. Other boys liked bullying us. Three months in the streets was hell for me. I ran away from home when my mother passed away. I don’t know my father. My aunt was very rough and uncaring and unloving. She would beat me and she stopped me from going to school but her children were going to school. I was like a slave in that home. My gradmother would protect me when the abuse was too much. When my grandmother died my aunt chased me away saying I was a burden to her so she said I must go and look for my father’s relatives whom I had never seen before. I left and asked a lift to Gweru and I met Mr Question Ndou at the Drop in Centre and he gave me shelter. At Midlands Children Hope Centre I go to school and I am now in grade 6 and I eat good food. From Edmore Muza 14 years old.
My name is Piniel Jani. I am 16 years old. When I was living in the streets I had no decent place to sleep and I would just sleep in pavements with other street kids. I had no one to teach me about life and the good and bad things. I would do anything that I thought was alright for me and some of those things were bad. At times I was failing to control myself and I would get myself in trouble. Life was difficult in town and I cannot explain the pain that I went through at home and on the streets. I ran away from home because my stepmother was very violent and rough. She would beat me and she hated me so much. I don’t know where my mother is and my father would not defend me or protect me. The only solution was to run away from home and start another life. By then I was 8 years old. Now I am a big boy. I went to the drop in centre with other boys living in the streets and Mr Question Ndou took me to the orphanage after I told him my story. I am a happy to stay at the orphanage and all the staff members are very good and they show us love and care. Because of Midlands Children Hope Centre, one day I will be someone in future. I go to school and I feel at peace here. Thanks to our sponsors and MCHC.
My name is Siphosenkosi Dube. I am 15 years old now. My mother died and I don’t know my father. I was staying with my grandmother who was very cruel. I will never forget how she used to beat me up and my little sister until the neighbours reported the matter to the police. The police took us away and I had wounds all over my body because of the beatings by my grandmother and she was torturing me badly . MCHC took me to a clinic and I was given treatment. Mr Ndou and Mrs Ndou are now my parents because they took me to their house when I was so much in need of love and care and protection. When I first came to MCHC I could not read or write. I had never been to school. Sometimes I would feel very embarrassed in our class because all the other children are about 5 years younger than me. Now I have just finished writing my grade seven final examinations. Next year I will be going to form one. I want to thank [all those] who give us money for school fees, books, uniforms and food.
My name is Luis Dimingu. I am a boy aged 16 . When my mother passed away , I stayed with my grandmother. However my father came and took me to Harare. There I was staying with my father and my stepmother. My step mother was cruel to me. My young sister and my young brother passed away due to negligence and torture by my stepmother. I would go to school and after school I would go and sell boiled eggs at the market place. This business was not performing well and my father and his wife would blame me for that. My father also changed and he started to hate me. Because of the cruelty at home I decided to run away and I went and stayed in the streets of Harare and then came to Gweru where I met Emmanuel Muchemwa and Mrs Ndou who offered me accommodation at the orphanage. Life on the streets was hard but it was better than at home. At Midlands Children Hope Centre I go to school and I’m doing form 1 , next year I’m going to form 2. When I grow up I want to be a doctor. I would like to thank all the staff members of MCHC for taking care of streets kids and orphans. Once again thank you.
You can support this project by sponsoring the orphanage here.