On Tuesday, the drop in centre of the Midlands Children's Hope Centre moved to a temporary location after having to vacate the previous premises. The process of agreeing a permanent base for this centre is ongoing, but in the meantime work has been undertaken over the last couple of days to prepare the temprorary facility to open its doors again to the homeless children of Gweru in central Zimbabwe.
The centre has a basic squat toilet and shower and three further rooms, though they are all small. But the facility will be sufficient for now. Today, volunteers on our Antelope Park volunteer program were at the centre to help get it ready to receive the children, and to prepare meals for them.
Midlands Children Hope Centre was founded in 1996 as a response to the growing numbers of street children living in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Today, the Centre is a registered Private Voluntary Organization run by a seven member board, which currently employs six members of staff.
The Centre works with orphans and vulnerable children and runs a rehabilitation shelter in Mkoba Township, west of Gweru. Currently the shelter has 19 boys, all of whom attend the local school. Referrals to the organisation are made by the Gweru Department of Social Welfare, Midlands AIDS Service Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Organization for Migration/UNICEF and through the organisation’s outreach program on the streets.
The Drop-in Centre is a crucial part of the overall project for the Midlands Children Hope Centre, 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 Drop-in 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.
The Drop-in Centre provides a number of much needed social services. It offers:
· a safe and supportive environment for street children up to 18 years of age
· a free daily meal
· bathing facilities
· free medical health care
· family tracing and reunification with families (where possible)
· counseling, spiritual guidance and mentorship
· remedial education and educational visits
· sports and recreation at the Centre
The Centre also runs a Community Kitchen for Gweru’s homeless and people at risk, either elderly or living with a disability. These vulnerable people can benefit from the safe, supportive environment it offers. They are provided with a free daily meal, free medical care, spiritual guidance and, where possible, family tracing and reunification.
A Call to Action
ALERT is seeking funding to assist the Midlands Children Hope Centre (MCHC) towards the sustained provision of the Drop-in Centre. Immediate plans are to purchase safe and secure premises for the permanent relocation of the Drop-in Centre, which will include bathroom and kitchen facilities. This is a one-off cost of GBP 31,500. The centre also has a monthly cost to run of GBP 1,572.
If you believe you can help, even in a small way, please visit our support pages.