What people do not know or understand, they call names. The statement from the man of God, Prophet TB Joshua aptly describes the life of many street children whose way of living has earned them various names.
By Masimba Ngondonga
Some call them Zvigunduru, meaning one who sleeps everywhere, while others call them Vanagede, a name whose meaning is uncertain, among other names one might think of.
However, in the midst of all the name-calling, Africa Street Youth Ministries was born from the belief that there is hope for street children in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.
The ministry, whose primary aim is to meet the immediate and long-term needs of street children, was formed in 2009 and has established a home for such kids in Mutare, which currently accommodates three children: two boys and a girl.
“Currently, we have three children, two boys and a girl who are all going to school and we are waiting for the other one who is coming from Bulawayo.
“The elder one is now in Form Three at St Joseph Secondary School in Mutare while the other two are in Grade Seven and five respectively,” said ASYM director, Pastor Farai Katiro of Elim Pentecostal Church.
He said the institution also aimed at removing the stigma given to children living in streets and shed light to the society, that street children can excel if they are given the opportunity.
“ASYM’s purpose is to invest in young people socially, emotionally and spiritually through addressing reasons that drive children onto the streets and providing them with family setting model accommodation.
“We are also there to shed light to the community that street children can do amazing things if we understand their life through removing the element of stigmatisation. For example, one of the children we are taking care of has been selected as a prefect at St Joseph Secondary School, yet was once despised in the streets,” he said.
To avoid duplication of efforts, ASYM does not got to the streets looking for children but works in union with other street children- supporting organisations such as Scripture Union and Street Ahead who refer the children to them.
“Having realised that other organisations are already supporting children who are on the streets, we decided to take a step further through creating a family set up and kids are referred to our organisation by established institutions like Street Ahead and Scripture Union whom we work very closely with.”
To instil a sense of a nuclear family, all the children are under the custodianship of a parent, Tamari Murinda. ASYM is led by a team of dedicated and committed volunteers.
“ASYM is currently led by a team of enthusiastic volunteers and the work is currently undertaken by an experienced staff team in Zimbabwe.
“The staff team comprises director and founder Farai Katiro, home parent Murinda, youth support Kudzai Mwareya, full life farm worker Godfrey Chitofu and support worker Grace Katiro,” said Katiro.
PLANS TO ESTABLISH NEW HOME ON THE CARDS
Africa Street Youth Ministries has plans to establish a new home in Harare despite currently facing financial constraints.
“Although we are facing financial problems, plans to start a new home in the capital city are in the pipeline as part of our vision and we urge people to take the responsibility of supporting children living in streets and give them hope,” said Katiro.