Rejoice Mushayi, 20, a first-year student at Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo Province, is thrilled with the opportunity to go to school. The aptly named orphan explained, “It’s like my parents rose again!
“I just want to thank my church,” she added. “It lifted me … physically, mentally and spiritually. Surely, the home of mercy is found in this church.”
In a country where orphans often drop out of school at a young age, the West Zimbabwe Conference Board of Church and Society is reaching out to six districts with a new scholarship program for orphans.
Rosemary Nyarugwe, who chairs the board, said the conference is addressing myriad issues such as climate change, sustainable innovations, peacemaking, strengthening families and disaster preparedness. But she is most excited about Nherera (Almsgiving) Sunday.
Under the theme “Send a child to school with just a dollar,” each member is asked to contribute a dollar. That’s a big contribution for people who barely survive by farming and whose harvest is not enough for their own consumption.
“A total of $9,500 was raised from various circuits,” Nyarugwe continued.
Rejoice expressed thanks to her pastor; the Rev. Sekai Modesta Pfupa, connectional ministries director; the Rev. Jairos Mafondokoto, Masvingo District superintendent; and Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa “for selecting me among many.”
But Pfupa was quick to note that “Rejoice Mushayi passed with 14 points at A level (upper sixth grade) about three years ago in a rural remote area. I give gratitude to United Methodists that boosted her status and faith.”
Describing the gifts of a laptop and $2,332 for two semesters as “life-changing” for the young woman, Pfupa said the university also offered Rejoice a part-time job.
“The award of the church and society scholarship has become an inspiration to other young girls from her village (and) has also motivated many of our church members to support Nherera Sunday,” said Mafondokoto.
According to Nyarugwe, the Bulawayo Midlands District will receive $4,000 for scholarships.
“As for other beneficiaries,” she continued, “this fund gave them hope for a brighter future and instilled confidence as their fees were fully paid, and uniforms, stationery and satchels were bought.”
The Rev. Linda Rafemoyo, Rushinga Mission United Methodist Church senior pastor, said 14-year-old Kupakwashe Kapiso of the Harare West District “is very happy and grateful to the church for paying her fees and buying her uniform.
“Rushinga is one of the places where early childhood marriage is norm of the day. However, I urged her to focus on her education.”
The Rev. Ronnie Nyakuengama, Murewa (Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe) District connectional ministries director, said the Nherera collection started during the late 1970s in the Zimbabwe East Conference.
“The collection was done to assist the vulnerable children (orphans) through the United Methodist Church at Fairfield (Children's Home),” said Matthew Masanga Marange. Tribal leader Isaiah Hama Marange, he said, was a church member.
“A presentation was made at annual conferences, and the chief’s emissary carrying the donated funds would ask for time to collect money from delegates. The emissary would then receive a receipt to present to Chief Marange as proof of mission accomplished.”
The Rev. Duncan Charwadza, Zimbabwe East Conference connectional ministries director and deputy administrative assistant to the bishop, said districts and circuits are playing key roles assisting orphans in their communities, adding that the conference Church and Society board is also appealing to well-wishers to assist Fairfield Children's Home.
“If you lose a parent,” Pfupa said, “many people do not understand how you feel. It is difficult to be optimistic and think of your future when your heart is broken. This is a confusing time when you feel lonely and have many questions.”
Thanks to caring United Methodists, the future is looking brighter for Rejoice, Kupakwashe and other orphans.
Kumuterera is a communicator for the Zimbabwe West Conference.
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