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Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe once had one of Africa's finest education systems, but a declining economy hit living standards, throwing many into hardship and limiting opportunities for children. At our three SOS Children's Villages, we help vulnerable children flourish through the very best care, education and healthcare. … more about our charity work in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children: Esther and Tino find a new home with SOS Children

Esther
Esther

The moving documentary “Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children”, re-broadcast recently on BBC2 followed the daily lives of children growing up in the country as they struggle to survive in dire conditions.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS together with economic problems and frequent outbreaks of disease mean that many families live in extreme poverty and children are especially vulnerable.

Esther, nine, is HIV Positive and lives in a squatter camp just outside the capital Harare in the north of the country. She lives in one small tent with her mother and her three year old sister Tino, after the death of her father. The documentary follows Esther (pictured, left) as she spends her days caring for her mother who is confined to bed suffering from HIV/AIDS and whose condition is rapidly getting worse, whilst also taking sole responsibility for the care of her little sister. The family are reliant on food aid, and when this runs out they sleep without eating. Food shortages, poor hygiene and lack of medical facilities result in Esther and her sister frequently being ill.  Their older sister, Yvette, left home to live on the streets and is rarely able to come back to help. Despite desperately wanting to, Esther hasn’t been able to attend school for over a year. After Esther’s mother sadly passes away, the children come under the care of their uncle who moves into the camp to take responsibility for his sister’s piece of land. However, he does not provide adequate care for the children, often leaving them alone outside in the heat all day, unable to come inside the tent for food and water.

Tino - Zimbabwe

Following the end of filming, the production team kept in touch with all of the children in the documentary, providing them with food, clothing and school fees. However, it was felt that Esther and Tino (right) needed an alternative care solution to ensure their long-term wellbeing. After consultation with the girls’ uncle, the production team approached SOS Children to see whether we could help to provide them with a new home in one of our communities in Zimbabwe.

Esther and Tino came into the care of SOS Children’s Village Bindura, approximately two hours away from Harare. Our Village here has 15 family houses which provide a safe new home and a family for life for 180 children. The girls love their new home and get on well with their SOS mother and new brothers and sisters. Esther has begun attending the SOS Nursery. Although she is old enough to attend primary school, she is behind in her learning and it will take time for her to catch up. She is being given private tutoring to help her to progress. Esther is already confident around her new family and enjoys helping her SOS mother with small tasks around their home. Her sister Tino can be shy around new people, especially when Esther is not close by, but she is now beginning to adjust to life with her SOS family and enjoys playing with dolls and toys. SOS Children encourage children living with us to keep in contact with any biological relatives and staff from the Village will accompany the girls on a visit to their uncle and his family soon. Arrangements are also being made for their older sister, Yvette, to visit the girls in their new home. We will cover the full sponsorship cost for both Esther and Tino, so that they can stay with their SOS family until they reach independence.

Across Zimbabwe, SOS Children are supporting more than 500 children who have come from situations like Esther and Tino's in our three Children's Villages. Three Family Strengthening Programmes provide food, clothing, school fees and medical treatment for over 5000 vulnerable and HIV/AIDS affected children and their families, supporting them to stay together. A great way to make a long-term difference to the life of children in Zimbabwe is to help children in Zimbabwe by sponsoring one of our three SOS Children's Villages in the country.