THOUGH I WAS NOT BORN INTO A RICH FAMILY, I am grateful that my parents were able to provide for my siblings and I. My father was able to provide school fees, school uniforms and other essentials. We were never found wanting in terms of school supplies. In high school I was always among the first students to have school fees paid. The same cannot be said of a number of my colleagues.
I remember walking to our elementary school which was just about 10 minutes away, with a friend who was a year ahead of me. He came from an extremely underprivileged family such that he used to walk to school barefooted, while on the other hand I always had my shoes. This scenario used to affect me so much that I ended up not wearing my school shoes when walking to school as well. What used to pain me more was the fact that this guy was extremely gifted in class. Such has always been the ironies of life. He only started owning a pair of school shoes when he went to high school, where he later went on to do very well, defying all the odds that were stacked against him – poverty.
It was then that I felt inspired and motivated to do something for kids facing such circumstances when I finished school. This journey began in January 1993 upon completing my teacher training education, when I got deployed to Tjewondo Primary School in Matobo District in Matabeleland South Province, Zimbabwe. The school was so dilapidated such that qualified teachers were always coming and leaving due to a poor teaching and learning environment. I however told myself if as teachers we all abandoned the community, who would then help the parents move the school forward.
This was the best and most rewarding career decision I have ever made, for little did I know that two decades down the lane it would give birth to The Collin Nyabadza Children’s Voice Charitable Trust. This is an organisation whose main thrust is to ensure that no child loses their dignity due to poverty. We at the Children’s Trust strongly believe that, ‘poverty is not a sin and neither is it a crime’.
While a number of people have differing opinions or theories on how poverty may be alleviated, we are strongly convinced that one of the best ways is by providing educational opportunities to children from the poorest sections of the community as well. My trustees and I have seen on a number of occasions how families have been plucked out of poverty, just by providing an educational opportunity to just a single family member. In the African context this deed has a ‘ripple effect’, since often that family member comes back to help educate his/her siblings.
In 1993 I had the opportunity of securing a scholarship from a local brewery company for a brilliant girl in my Grade 7 class. She seized that opportunity and went on to excel. As I write this, she sits with us on our board as a way of giving back to the community that gave her so much. The main point I wish to put across is that there are thousands of such children in her position. All they need is a small act of kindness from you and me.
It is with these regards that we hope to walk the long but rewarding journey with you. Remember there is no amount of help that is too small. Edmund Burke once remarked, ‘Those who did nothing because they thought it was too small, made the greatest mistake’. Our desire is to create an atmosphere where all Zimbabwean children get to enjoy their education and childhood. Mind you, ‘schooldays are the best days in a person’s life’.
Having had the opportunity to live in a first world country, I cannot but help marvel at the manner in which children in these developed countries always come first. I also marvel at the manner in which these societies share their resources. Those who have better means, always share their resources with those without, a concept that ensures that no child in a developed country goes without basic such as schooling, play, food and clothes among other things. I strongly believe we can emulate this in Zimbabwe, but this requires hard work and selflessness.
I remember when I was teaching a few years back I often approached local companies for sponsorship for our children’s activities, and all the majority did was give us a negative response, only a little later one would read about them announcing a million dollar sponsorship for a sporting event. My argument has always been, if we can pump millions of dollars into sports, surely we can afford to spare one or two thousand dollars for a needy school.
Last but not least, this trust aims at ensuring that even the most remote school in Zimbabwe gets help. More than 30 years after independence it is shocking to find to find some poor remote schools without classrooms and school furniture. We have to put an end to this. To our advantage is the fact that all our trustees have firsthand experience of teaching in a poor rural school without this infrastructure. Two of them have actually experienced attending classes in a classroom without school furniture or under a tree; hence none needs any extra motivation to do a good job.
We already know some of the needy schools, something that makes our task much easier. All we need is your support. I also need to emphasize that as an organisation we will also play an active role to ensure that children are safe from abuse in school. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that children enjoy being children. As they do in the western world, we will also help lobby the government that we come with a policy that requires anyone intending to work anywhere near children to provide a Police Criminal Background Check and a Vulnerable Sector Check. This applies to teachers, social workers, etc. This is in line with international trends governing the protection of children.
Thank you for your support.