Zimbabwe - Khayelihle Children's Village
Khayelihle Children’s Village was established in 1994 when statistics indicated that over 22.5 million of Africa’s populations were living with HIV/AIDS. In that century, at least 2 500 people died weekly of AIDS in Zimbabwe. This is a conservative figure as statistics for rural areas were not readily available. According to the UNAIDS WEBSITE, 25% of Zimbabwe’s adult population was HIV-positive. AIDS still brings about 15% of children to KCV, others have lost their parents for other reasons or been abandoned by parents that just can afford to keep them, as Zimbabwe’s economy struggles to make progress and unemployment is the highest in the world at 90%.
In the midst of what could be total despair Khayelihle Children’s Village has all the hopefulness that God can bring. It is a beautiful home for around 100 children who have found a new and loving family there. The children live in family groups with a variety of ages in each of six households. House mothers, fathers and aunties to look after the children. They all look after each other also and attend the local schools where they are held in high regard for the studiousness and community-mindedness. The village cares for their emotional and spiritual development. It also provides opportunities for them to excel in sport, music and any other endeavour they pursue. The children go to conferences at least once a year as an important part of their spiritual and social development.
COCOA is working with KCV to develop the Village's ability to meet its own needs. KCV is situated on a 270 acre farm where COCOA and KiwiLink are working together to increase the return from the farm so that the Village generates income of its own.
COCOA is also assisting KCV reorient its operating paradigm from only residential care to family reunification where possible.
KCV has a skilled farm manager with a vision to make the farm flourishing and profitable. He is building a healthy herd of dairy and beef cattle, and extending the land under pasture. COCOA is investing in infrastructure such as fences to keep out neighbours' animals, systems for rainwater harvesting and for drip irrigation. Vegetable production is increasing and farm income is gradually meeting more and more expenses. It is hoped that within three years the farm will be able to pay for most of the village running expenses.
COCOA is helping KCV board and staff to strengthen their capacity, encouraging training opportunities in areas such as policy writing, child protection, fundraising, and management. The childrens' lives are also being enriched by the provision of the library and tutoring support. For full participation in ZImbabwean society the children need birth certificates, and pursuing these is a current priority.
KCA provides a great home for those without family. But, the ideal for orphan children is to live with relatives. About half of the children have some connection with their relatives. The goal of the reconnecting project is to have children live with their kin wherever this is in their best interest. KCV will work with the children, relatives and social services to create a smooth transition, and provide support where needed.