The work of the Umhambi Zambezi Orphan Project can be divided into three areas:

Rural

This project looks after 12 orphans in the rural area of Chimbombo, Mbizha and Ndlovu, about 30 km south of Victoria Falls.

The needs of these children are slightly different. Many of the orphans are being cared for by the Chief of the village. He provides food and shelter for them in a very supportive environment. The Project pays for their schooling, supplements their nutritional requirements and buys clothes for the orphans.

Some other children are being cared for by their elderly grandparent, who is often unable to adequately care for them. This causes social problems for the orphans, who some of them have been found living in rough conditions in the village and not attending school. The Project has intervened and is now providing school fees, uniforms, school equipment, food and clothes for the orphans in this situation. In the rural areas we have 3 children in High School at Ndlovu Secondary School and the rest attend the primary school at Chimbombo and Mbizha.

Urban

Orphans cared for by the Umhambi Zambezi Project in the townships of Mhkosana and Chinotimba, on the outskirts of Victoria Falls, attend primary schools in both suburbs and also the Mosi Oa Tunya High School located in Chinotimba.

Currently, we have 11 students enrolled in Forms 1 to 5 at Mosi Oa Tunya High School. Mrs Mpofu, the Careers' Advisor at Mosi Oa Tunya looks after the Orphan and Other Vulnerable Children program and she keeps us informed of their academic progress. 

The orphans in the urban area live with siblings or relatives. One cultural consequence of living with relatives is that the orphan may not be the favoured child. Often they get a tough deal and do much of the physical work and receive little benefit.

The ravages of HIV/AIDS has caused a  social catastrophe where we find  the parents/ adults  often die and the children are left to be cared for by aging grandparents, who are often unable to look after the child appropriately. In other instances, the orphan child is being cared for by relatives who may in fact be working in another country and sending money home to support the family. I have heard of a case where the child has lost contact with the adults working in another country due to death from a road accident, an all to common tragedy in Southern Africa.

Many of the children are HIV positive. However, they receive medication from the World Health Organisation and therefore are able to live productive lives.

The number of orphans in the schools in Victoria Falls, that was reported to me, was as high as 75%.

This donor program is one of the few remaining in the region. The Global Financial Crisis caused many donors to stop funding the orphans in Victoria Falls.

Education

The Umhambi Zambezi Orphan Project not only raises awareness of the
Social impact of HIV/AIDS on families and communities in the Victoria Falls region, it also raises money to send to the Umhambi Children’s Fountain of Hope Trust, located in Victoria Falls.
From here the money is used to pay; the school fees of the orphans in its care, buy school uniforms and school equipment.

The Project has children enrolled in Primary Schools and Secondary Schools –

Primary Schools
Chinotimba Primary School in Victoria Falls
Chimbombo Primary School in the rural area.

Secondary Schools  
Mosi Oa Tunya High School in Victoria Falls
Ndlovu Secondary School in the rural area.

All these government schools are now charging school fees to cover the cost of staff salaries and school equipment. The teaching staff are not well paid but many refuse to leave the profession because they see it as their moral obligation to educate the youth of the country.

A teacher’s annual income in Zimbabwe is approximately equivalent to one week’s salary of a teacher in NSW, about $1200.

The Umhambi Zambezi Orphan Project is a Registered Incorporated Association in NSW. (INC9894685)

All money raised by the Umhambi Zambezi Orphan Project goes to the children under the care of the Umhambi Children’s Fountain of Hope Trust and to local schools. No money is taken out for fees or administration costs, etc.

For further information

In Australia - you can contact Steve Collins at: umhambi.org In Africa – you can contact Misheck Mujeni at: mujeni@umhambi.org