Home » Human Rights » Children’s Home in Dire Straits

It never rains but pours for 44 children at Just Children Foundation, also popularly known as Karoi Children’s Home, who face starvation as food supplies have dwindled over the past months.

The home, which is adjacent to Karoi District Hospital, is in dire straits.

As such, the children sometimes make do with a single meal of boiled maize per day.

Food is not their only challenge.

Just a few weeks back some O’ level pupils from the home nearly failed to register for Zimsec examinations until some benevolent well-wishers had to intervene.

The 14 workers at the home have not been spared either.

They claim they have not received salaries since 2011.

One of the mothers at the institution, Mrs Nancy Frazer (49), told The Herald last week that the biggest challenge was feeding the children whose ages range between two and 15 years.

Despite some well-wishers coming up with a few donations to help the situation, Mrs Frazer said the contributions were sometimes too small to last a day or two.

“The help that is needed here does not only end at foodstuffs but includes clothing, especially uniforms, stationery and school fees for our children going to school.

“Things turned upside down in 2010 following the death of the home’s benefactor Mr Musa Kasimonje in 2008.

“Before his death all was well. All the workers received their salaries on time as he would travel as far as Europe in search of donations for this home.

“As mothers we cannot put money ahead of caring for the children. We also have families to take care of at our homes but we have no one to leave these children with despite that the situation is now unbearable,” said Mrs Frazer.

Although the late Mr Kasimonje’s wife Nomathemba Kasimonje took over operations at the home in 2010, some workers at the institution said she last visited the institution two years back after they had conveyed the message about updating their salaries.

The workers also alleged that Mrs Kasimonje was now running another children’s home in Harare to which she has been diverting all donations from Just Children Foundation’s traditional overseas sponsors particularly Holland.

“There are two cars that were donated to this home from overseas two years ago. The woman (Mrs Kasimonje) diverted them to a children’s home she established in Harare. All the donations that should come here from overseas are being withheld in Harare while this place is left with nothing, let alone our salaries.

“Our salary is pegged at US$86 per month and for your information we last received it in 2011,” fumed one worker who preferred anonymity for professional reasons.

Asked on how she copied with working at the institution where she did not get paid at the end of the month, another mother at the home, Ms Thandiwe Munikwa (49), said to her being a mother at the children’s home came as a calling that demanded passion and love for the orphaned children, the reason she had continued to look after them since 2011 without pay.

“As a mother with also a family to take care of at home, I must admit that I am also facing financial problems but I can’t just abandon these toddlers just because I have not been paid my salary since 2011.

“My salary is not worth more than the life of these kids you see around here. What we want first is to ensure there is food security for these children before anything else.

“Although we have a flourishing garden with vegetables around, the vegetables need at least cooking oil and mealie-meal to constitute a meal. If things like maize or mealie-meal, sugar, milk and bread are made available then we know the children are safe. Imagine having children between two and three years going without proper nutrition. They can develop deficiency diseases like kwashiorkor,” she said.

Meanwhile Chief Senator Dandawa, who recently donated some bags of maize to the home, has called on stakeholders in the entire Hurungwe district to put their heads together so that a lasting solution can be found to end the crisis at the home.

“We must quickly come up with a solution to the crisis. Every stakeholder be they politicians or leaders of church organisations, must come up with what they have so that the kids’ plight is put to an end,” he said.

Farmer and musician Never Gasho, who often donates to the home, said the solution to the crisis at the institution was everyone’s responsibility and called on those who had made pledges earlier on to act now.

“It is time for those who have been making promises to the children’s home, particularly politicians, to act now. We must not lie to these innocent souls, this is the time we must act. This is the time tobacco companies operating in Hurungwe must also come in and rescue these children as part of their corporate social responsibility,” said Mr Gasho.

When contacted for a comment on Tuesday, Hurungwe District Social Welfare Officer Mr Blessing Simango said he could not comment on the state of affairs at Just Children Foundation as he had not been authorised by his superior in Chinhoyi.

Efforts to get a comment from Mrs Kasimonje were also fruitless at the time of going to press as her mobile phone was continually unavailable.

Just Children Foundation has 23 children attending primary school, 17 going to secondary school and four attending Grade 0 . It has a total of 14 workers, 10 women and four males.

Source : The Herald