Esteemed Children Trust Report December 2020
ECT is a Non-Profit Organization registered in Zimbabwe under the Companies & Association Trustee Act (Chapter 24:04). Its main area of operation as one of the child-focused charities, is orphan and vulnerable children (OVC). Major organizational activities for the last quarter vary from child sponsorship, advocacy engagements, COVID-19 awareness and food hamper donation distributions for poverty alleviation, and psychosocial support.
Highlights of achievement
As already highlighted above, ECT is mainly focused in transforming lives by alleviating poverty, vulnerability and suffering from the OVCs, through delivering an equitable and essential educational, health, psychological and emotional services to orphan and vulnerable children in communities. The major thrust is to create an enabling environment conducive for peace, survival, growth and development for the vulnerable children so that they too may be given an equal footing for life opportunities. In our efforts to achieve that, we engage for policy advocacy in a bid to advocate against practices that predisposes children to violence and towards the implementation of policies that protects children from abuse. Hereunder are the highlights of our achievement for the last quarter.
Masvingo Conference. Kwekwe, Midlands Conference
Esteemed Children Trust has successfully been incorporated into the Child Rights Coalition chapter for Harare region, a chapter within the broader National Child Rights Coalition in Zimbabwe, coordinated by the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC). This Child Rights Coalition seeks to ensure children across the country access their rights as they develop, through a strengthened coordinated approach within the sector.
The organization participated in coalition activities since January, including Harare regional coalition meetings for updates and programs review, organized by the Child Rights Coalition. During the last quarter of 2020, ECT has managed to participate in a national coalition conference held in Great Zimbabwe, Masvingo in October, in which all regional coalition chapters were present to discuss issues pertaining to child policy and implementation. The meeting had the agenda to review progress pertaining to programming, especially during COVID-19 and to input into the coalition report which were being prepared for submission to the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Children (ACRWC) and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC). Apart from that conference, ECT participated as well in an Annual Child Rights Coalition conference held in Kwekwe in November, where parliamentary committees on education and health and child parliamentarians were also present. The meeting had an agenda to give updates on coalition activities and reports to the higher child rights boards in the continent. Earlier in the same month, in November, the organization had an opportunity to participate in an organized policy engagement platform in Harare with parliamentary portfolio on health, primary and secondary and tertiary education, mainly on issues of sexual and reproductive health rights and age of consent towards the formulation of the Marriage Bill which was underway. In all these engagements, ECT made submissions in form of presentations. Both of which strategically placed the organization into a lime light of possible networking and synergies and positioned the organization within the broader purview of other sister child rights organizations from other regions and to learn from their programming experiences.
Due to COVID-19, there has not been much of the face to face children activities other than participating in COVID-19 awareness and psycho-social support sessions, carefully organized and monitored following WHO guidelines. It is vital to note that, in as much as food is important, mental wellness is also equally important. It has been the thrust of ECT to see to it that all the children under their programs are free from distress.
Despite COVID-19 wreaking havoc globally without exception anywhere in the world including Zimbabwe, ECT has been constantly, with due carefulness conducting psycho-social support lessons and awareness even on one-on-one basis, especially, in critical scenarios of fear and distress. Psycho-social support services have been given to the children twice a month and sometimes more than, due to COVID-19 pandemic. Most children were so afraid of the pandemic to such an extent of developing fear and distress. Thus, information dissemination and counselling services were conducted to console the children and in still hope for life in them, by encouraging them to follow the prescribed preventive measures from the World Health Organizations guidelines and reassuring them that they will be spared from the catastrophe.
ECT has been working with Gloria, a psychologist, specifically on the aspect of psycho-social support. The driving and uttermost conviction of the organization is that, children be accorded the right to information and awareness raising. Amongst a vast lot of measures rolled out for the achievement of such include, awareness sessions through information dissemination during food distribution visits and the supply of protective equipment such as face masks, latex gloves and hand sanitizers. At certain intervals, the awareness was achieved through quiz on COVID-19, intended for preventive measures, such as social distancing, coughing on flexed elbow and washing of hands often times with soap. Gloria has been visiting both operational areas sometimes twice and even once a month to help with psycho-social support. That alone speaks volumes to the mental wellness of the children. In such meetings they could discuss future aspirations of the children as each of them had to share. These mental wellness sessions proved to be fruitful as the children would exhibit jovial mood and hope during the sessions.
Hamper donation distribution
Initially before COVID-19, ECT has been dishing out nutritious meals in its quest to redress nutritional challenges of malnutrition and stunted growth amongst OVC. This feeding program has managed to lapse up to May 2020, the time COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic affecting and infecting countries across the divide. As a result, the program was temporarily put to a halt. ECT therefore saw it fit to supplement the weekly meals with food hamper donations, a weekly undertaking conducted Thursdays and Fridays. This food hamper donation scheme has been successfully conducted on a weekly basis during COVID-19 lockdowns, donating different food hampers to over a hundred children covering both Epworth and Caledonia (our operational areas, the former with 16 and the later 21 families) and non-ECT operational areas as well. Our gratitude goes to the devoted supporters/donors who continued to extend their generous donations in a both consistency and intermittent manner. This exercise was carried out as a measure of emergence response serving two purposes, poverty alleviation and fighting malnutrition among orphans and vulnerable children under ECT program.
ECT children after receiving their food hampers in Maseko
Apart from food distribution to ECT children in designate operational areas, the organization had to balance the distribution to non-ECT operational areas and selected children’s homes during the last quarter of the year. The major thrust was aimed at extending a wider safety and cushion net to communities as the effects of COVID-19 were far reaching, dire and devastating. Thus, the Founding Director decided to extend welfare care to a wider society towards fighting COVID-19 induced poverty and hunger to many families in the communities within greater Harare. As a result, more than forty non- ECT families and one children’s home (Good Samaritan Children’s Home in Stoneridge) benefited since the beginning of this adventure in September up to December 2020. Such an intermittent and random distribution to the communities has proved to be decisive in cushioning some families amongst the most vulnerable from the COVID-19 induced effects of poverty and hunger.
Food donations received ready to be distributed to ECT children
The distributed green hamper donations comprised of items such as cabbages, spinach, oranges, bananas, green maize, green pepper, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, tomatoes, rape, paw paw, leeks and lemons among other fruit and vegetables. The basic food grocery included items such as mealie meal, flour, sugar, salt, cooking oil, dried sugar beans, instant overnight maheu, and bath soap, green bar washing soap, soya chunks and rice. The children and the families who benefited from the food heartily appreciated the support from the donors and supporters including ECT staff for sharing the plight of the orphan and vulnerable in the communities. The children were so grateful for the passion donation distribution made to them as it was evident in their joyful thanksgiving to the donors and the Founding Director. It is evident that the food distribution is going a long way towards poverty alleviation and fighting hunger.
One of the family under sponsorship program in Epworth, Maseko
Child sponsorship is a program initiated to facilitate direct sponsoring of ECT children by passionate sponsors who wish to nurture and empower the lives of the underprivileged in the society. An aspiring sponsor engages the organization and register by completing sponsor registration forms, signs the sponsorship agreement and then allocated ECT children to sponsor or mentor directly through ECT policy, guidelines and procedures. For the month of August, the organization successfully engaged an Australian sponsor who is currently taking two ECT children from Epworth, Maseko for a pilot sponsorship program. The sponsorship is covering education and learning, food and living upkeep for both of the two children together with their mother. For the last quarter, the program has managed to successfully roll out the pilot program from October to December 2020 which culminated to the successful relocation of the family from a dilapidated house to a descent dwelling place. Consistent commitment by the sponsor enables timeous payment of the rentals by the family and the purchase of other necessary items such as mattress, camping light, cooking utensils and part of the school uniforms for the kids among others. Besides, the children had a memorable Christmas holiday celebration with gifts. Educational enrolment to a formal government primary school (Kubatana Primary School, in which they opened this week on the 22nd of March 2021, with their fees paid for and other learning items and requirements). Currently, the organization is implementing phase 2 from January to March 2021. This phase 2 cycle intends to achieve, family maintenance, food security and establishment of an Income Generating Project for family sustenance. ECT is glad to report a tremendous progress for this pilot sponsorship program.
Currently, ECT is not doing any sustainable projects under their operations. However, given an opportunity the organization would undertake the adventure especially poultry and piggery projects.
There are quite a number of challenges bedeviling the organization varying from limited fiscal legroom, pertinent personnel and skill shortages and admin and operational challenges.
Ideally, all these challenges are stemming and sprouting from the fact that the organization has a limited cake in the basket vis-a-vee the strategic plans in place. The organization is in dire need of operational and institutional funding in order to realize fruition of all its activities and future plans. Administration errands require fuel, communication, transport and even purchasing of commodities for the program operations. Therefore, the organization requires a minimum annual budget of approximately USD$31,872.00 per annum, to cover for operations and administration. Currently, the operations are running from the Founding Director’s personal savings (who is the main benefactor) and a few well-wishers for fuel, communications, transport, rentals, staff allowances and food hampers, in cases where the organization would have not received any donation. It is conspicuous that there is a limited fiscal legroom and a lean cake for smooth and effective operations. For instance, in a single week, there is need of at least 40 liters of fuel for food collection and distribution. As a result, the organization is therefore under capacitated fiscally to even employ important personnel for some key functionalities such as M & E and other key roles. Apart from such, delivery vehicles are posing challenges as the organization is relying on FD’s personal car for food collection and distribution. Competitive salaries are needed for professional services rendered by the personnel. On the whole, limited fiscal space is the elephant in the house hindering effective operations of the organization.
The only possible solution for the organization is to embark on offensive strategies of continued resource mobilization, either through soliciting for willing donations and or sustainable projects adventures. During the board meeting session held on the 5th of December 2020, for its last quarter of the year, the organization adopted a radical marketing and fundraising roadmap, suggested by the Marketing and Fundraising board sub-committee, which will ensure sound publicity and drastic resource mobilization on both small and large scales. The roadmap includes a two edged marketing strategy, the first one is the targeted marketing. This strategy implies formally engaging specific known potential funders on a professional basis through the established targeted marketing link. The major thrust of this strategy is to lure major funders which will create the organizational fiscal spine. The second strategy implies engagement of general funders through the established general donation link. This strategy is directed to the general people and the link can be shared to whoever. These strategies are set to be implemented from the first quarter of 2021 going forward.
COVID-19 has brought about untold suffering to the general populace and economic hardships due to lockdowns. Many individuals have lost their jobs and companies grounded. In such situations, expecting meaningful donations may be a difficult proposition. However, the only way the organization may bail out itself is by venturing into sustainable projects. If given an opportunity the organization may venture into poultry such as broilers, layers, roadrunners and or piggery projects.
ECT is very much grateful for the progress recorded this far pertaining to programming of this invaluable charity work over the whole of 2020. It is our belief as ECT, given the current drive with which the organization is moving, that we are bounding for the achievement of the ultimate vision of the organization. As we are going into another lap treading this road the coming year 2021, we are anticipating greater prospects of transformation into another trajectory.