About

One of the longest established places of shelter for children in need of care, Harare Children’s Home was established on July 4, 1921. It moved to its present premises in Eastlea 53 years ago.

It is home to up to 110 children, from infants to pre-puberty boys and girls until they find jobs. The Department of Social Welfare, under whose auspices we operate, selects the children placed in our care. As one of the few homes with a qualified nursing sister, we always have a number of infants in our five houses.

Each house is run by a mother who cares for up to 20 children of all ages. These are run as much like family homes as possible, with the children helping with cooking and housework and the older ones taking care of the toddlers and babies. A member of the house committee, reporting to the general committee that runs the home, is assigned to each house.

We have one of the country’s best nursery schools operating on our premises. In addition to helping fund the home by paying rent and helping with exceptional cost items, the school welcomes our pre-schoolers at no charge and gives them the best possible start in life.

Once they are school-going age, they walk to nearby Admiral Tait junior school. After Grade 7, boys move to another home, perhaps SOS Children’s Villages, St Joseph’s Home for Boys or Shearly Cripps Children’s Home. Our older girls go to Roosevelt School which is just across the road from the Home. While our children do well at school initially, lack of homework supervision and general encouragement mean that few achieve good O level results.

Finland financed a half-way house for us, where our girls move once they have finished studying. Here they are expected to buy and cook their meals, clean their rooms, bathrooms, etc, grow vegetables and generally live normal lives. While no home is an ideal environment for a child, it is a protected one and the real world can be a harsh place for a school leaver who has never had to fend for herself.

Harare Children’s Home was financially sound until the 2004-8 hyperinflation destroyed our capital. Today we survive on donations from the Zimbabwean public and companies and there are months when our children are reduced to eating just maize porridge and vegetables. Despite the difficulties, our dedicated staff of 30, most of whom are resident, do everything they can to provide the best possible care for our children.

Our needs:

Growing children need a balanced, varied diet. We do our best by growing vegetables and buying as wisely as possible but the children do need to eat meat more regularly and to have the occasional treat of a sweet or a cool drink.

We benefit under the BEAM programme for junior school fees but we still have to pay school fees at Roosevelt and individual levies at each school which amount to $4,500 a term. No child can go to school unless s/he has the proper uniform and this is a huge drain on our slender resources.

Our buildings are over 50 years old. Maintenance on them is on-going and a constant problem. Donations of skills and materials are very welcome.

We are keen to do more income-generating projects. Please help us with ideas, skills and infrastructure.

Local clinics help us with our children’s health. Medicines and drugs are a huge drain on our resources, though, especially for our HIV positive children and we would welcome help here too. A number of our children need counselling: often this is beyond our means.

Our staff are dedicated but poorly paid. We would love to be able to reward them properly for their loving care.

We desperately need families to foster our children, people to come to the home to interact with them and show them what normal family life is. Many of our girls have no idea of the price of food, for example.

How we run

Harare Children’s Home has a director and a supervisor. One of them must be medically trained. Each of our five houses has a house mother, who is helped by general cleaning staff. We have a main kitchen and dining room where the children eat breakfast and lunch on schooldays and our team of five are expert cooks. We have someone in charge of repairing clothes and soft furnishings, a central laundry equipped by Rotary to industrial standards and a house-keeping team who oversee the day to day running of the home. Our maintenance supervisor oversees basic repairs to the home, borehole and the gardens. We have 24 hour security guards on our fenced and gated property. We have an on-site clinic and a library.

Management is ultimately responsible to the trustees who comprise the Mayor of Harare, the chairman of the Methodist Church and representatives of the subscribers. They in turn appoint an executive committee that meets monthly to oversee the running of the home.

It has three sub-committees, finance, whose chairman has been Adrian Watson, former senior partner at Ernst & Young, for the past 40 years, house committee and fund raising. Other sub-committees are appointed as necessary.

History

The Harare Children’s Home has been providing a safe haven for many less privileged children: ones who have been left alone in the world, whose families were shattered by violence, some whose lives are changed by child abuse, others who have been abandoned or neglected. Each one has been given love, shelter, sustenance, education and guidance.

It was inaugurated by the Synod of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on July 4, 1921 in response to a ‘flu’ epidemic that left a number of children orphaned. Its objectives are to care for children of either sex, regardless of religious denomination or nationality and to take care of their education, both religious and secular.

It moved to its present premises 54 years ago.

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At Harare Children's Home, we believe that caring for children means looking after their physical, mental and emotional needs and, as such, we try to simulate a home environment for each child.