A firm foundation for Harare’s carers

Against a backdrop of relentless poverty for most of the population, and with a ‘drought disaster’ recently declared in rural areas, Viva Network Zimbabwe (VNZ) is increasingly recognising the need to provide quality, lasting support for those who care for children.

As such it has been holding several practical training days for volunteer teachers and mentors, as well as parents, aimed at improving their lives and, as a result, the lives of children in their care.

Twenty-four teachers from VNZ’s eight Learning Support Centres in Harare received training over three days, which equipped them with key skills, information and knowledge on how to teach numeracy and literacy. Trainers came from local schools and a local teacher training college.

The network also held a two-day training course for its 24 mentors who work with the children. The objective was to equip them with knowledge and skills on how to organise and implement sporting activities for children while blending in psychosocial support.

VNZ also held two sessions on the subject of income generation. One of these was for 24 volunteer teachers, aimed at equipping them with knowledge and information on how to sustain themselves and in turn advise and share with the parents of the children who also struggle financially. The second session was attended by 148 parents who have started the process of raising school fees for their children.

Norma is a Learning Support Centre volunteer who received this training last year with the aim of generating income for herself and supervising parents’ and guardians’ projects.

As a result, she started a poultry project by buying 100 layers that were at the point of laying eggs, and she then collected at least three crates of eggs per day to sell. This has enabled her to meet her family needs and travel costs. Many volunteers have had strength from meeting Norma and listening to her story.

Free-flowing communication channels are crucial for ensuring people hear about VNZ’s latest training programmes.

The network uses emails, text messages and mobile apps to circulate information to members on its database. Every week, it also disseminates information on family and children’s issues to a WhatsApp chat group of over 300 professionals in Harare who are able to spare an hour per day to learn about different issues affecting their lives from other professionals.