THE Harare City Council has just given First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa the greenlight to establish an orphanage. While this is a noble idea aimed at ensuring that many children with no one to care for, find assistance and some kind of support, what is curious is the reason behind this initiative.
Currently, there are many orphanages in the country and many of them have not been spared the consequences of Zimbabwe’s long-running economic malady, and could do with a lot of State support, which is either not forthcoming or comes in dribs and drabs as social welfare itself is heavily burdened.
In fact, the majority of orphanages cannot even recall the last time they received grants and have largely been dependent on the few donors that still have something to spare.
Over the last few years, government has been pushing for all orphanages in the country to provide family-style homes, with a small number of children of various ages living with a “mother” — a model that demands significant financial support which, unfortunately for the majority of children’s homes, has been drying off.
It costs thousands of dollars to run children’s homes and we feel it would have been ideal for the First Lady to invest whatever money she intends to pour into building this orphanage to support those that currently exist, but struggling to feed and educate the children they are looking after.
What will likely happen is that there would probably be a huge difference in the manner in which the First Lady’s orphanage will be supported – as we have seen previously with former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s children’s home in Mazowe – creating an impression that those children will be better off compared to those in homes not run by influential people and with fewer partners.
It may be wiser and more beneficial for the First Lady to engage in programmes and activities through which funds would be raised and distributed to various children’s homes, than have her running one.
As the “mother of the nation”, it is ideal for her to consider all the children’s homes in the country to be under her auspices. That way, we will not have just one institution benefitting more because of its direct link or connection to the First Lady.
Many children’s homes are not only battling to access clothing, food, toiletries and other necessities for the children under their care, but raising money to pay staff has also been a nightmare. These care givers play a crucial role in society and should also be remembered. But in the event that the First Lady eventually opens her own home, we have no doubt that staff at that home will not have challenges of pay and the likes.