Zimbabwe preschool struggles but succeeds

Two freezers, balanced precariously on bricks and plastic crates, dominate the room. On one side, huge black pots overlap the plates on a domestic stove. Boxes of fruits scatter atop another box.

Daisy Muskwe bends over and slowly stretches, pulling the lid from one of the three 50-liter buckets to reveal an assortment of groceries. Piled next to the buckets are steel trunks and wooden boxes, their contents unknown.

This is the kitchen for St. Philip Pre-School of the United Methodist Church in Kambuzuma, a densely populated suburb west of Harare, the Zimbabwe capital. The preschool can accommodate 100 children. At the end of the school's first week, 60 children had enrolled, and more parents still were queued for registration.

"We are a ministering church, and we are serving the community and meeting their needs. We are the No. 1 feeder for Lytton Primary School, and it is a blessing that the head of that school sits (on) the preschool board," said the Rev. Remember Masamba, the pastor at St. Philip.

Serves low-income area

The preschool, established in January 2009 with three trained teachers, operates from makeshift facilities partitioned in the church hall. Registered with the government'sMinistry of Education, it conforms torequired health standards.

The children learn through play, following the syllabus from the ministry. "School fees continue to be the lowest in the community but aim at giving the best standards, serving as an evangelism tool," said Mutsa Mupfukwa, the circuit lay leader. The preschool strives to serve the area, which is primarily low- to middle-income earners, and provides free education for as many as 15 orphans.

"The community is realizing that the church is transforming the children, and (as a result), parents have come to join the church," said Tendai Mhembere, trustees chair.

"Children at this school perform better in grade one than (students) from other preschools, and my child has become well disciplined as a result of coming to this place," said Plaxedes Ruzvidzo, the mother of Morrison. "The teachers take good care of our children because they uphold Christian values."

Church members built the church hall that houses the preschool with the support of the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference in the United States.

Fundraisers enhance school

Shoes of the preschoolers are lined up awaiting the end of nap time. A UMNS photo by Emmauel Taurai Maforo.
Shoes of the preschoolers are lined up awaiting the end of nap time. A UMNS photo by Emmauel Taurai Maforo.

Through various fundraisers, the preschool acquired an 18-seat bus for $11,000. The bus ferries children at an additional cost. The orphans, however, do not pay for the service. Among the efforts to raise money are brewing and selling a traditional energy drink called "mahewu," as well as selling produce, children's mock weddings, dinners and luncheons for couples to renew vows and uniforms.

Professionals from various fields and community stakeholders serve as a board of governors to run the school.

St. Philip continues to be the best in Kambuzuma but faces challenges. The school must equip and fence the outdoor play area, sink a borehole, fit kitchen cupboards, tile the kitchen and bathroom, and put in an industrial stove and children's worktables and dining tables. A solar system is needed to counter the power outages common in Zimbabwe.

Televisions and at least 30 child-friendly computers are required.

"Unfortunately, due to limited funds, the church is not able to take up the education of orphans and vulnerable children to primary school level after preschool graduation," Masamba said.

The church also runs a feeding program for 23 neighborhood children ages 3 to 8. The program formerly included parents, but because of the constrained budget, the program now offers meals to children only during weekdays.

*Chikwanhah, Muzerengwa, Kumuterera and Maforo are communicators for the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

News media contact: Tafadzwa Mudambanuki, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

 

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Local Church
Oretha Goyanvator receives a certificate during training led by United Methodist Women in Monrovia, Liberia. As part of the new Village Saving Scheme program, participants learned to make soap, detergent and sanitary pads to help them earn and save money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by E Julu Swen, UM News.

Empowering women in Liberia amid COVID-19

UMW project teaches women to make soaps and sanitary pads to generate income and provide needed products in rural villages.
Global Health
Angela Macherechedze, sister-in-charge of the family and child health unit at United Methodist Old Mutare Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe, holds baby Prince Anotidaishe, the first child for 18-year-old Samantha Sibanda, who traveled more than 160 miles to give birth at the church hospital. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.

Missions’ doctors, nurses serve despite struggles

More patients turn to United Methodist hospitals, as Zimbabwe’s health sector remains paralyzed by labor strikes and a lack of supplies amid COVID-19.
General Church
John Yambasu Jr. (left) and other mourners carry the casket bearing the remains of Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu, who was laid to rest Sept. 6 after a service of Remembrance and Rites of Passage in Freetown. The bishop died in a car accident on Aug. 16. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Driver arrested in crash that killed bishop

The driver of the SUV that crashed into and killed Sierra Leone Area Bishop John K. Yambasu has been charged with seven counts, including speeding.