Zambuko House, a Jesuit initiative for the rehabilitation of street children in Harare is grateful for the support they have received from Corporates since 2013. The support has seen the centre going to date, when the rest of the country is struggling for their daily bread.
Emilia James, the Director of Zambuko House, opened up during a meeting with fellow workers in the Jesuit Youth apostolate who had gathered at Zambuko House to appreciate the work that is being done there.
“We are working with up to 60 young people who are coming from the streets. We have boarding facilities for only 22 people but the majority of our children stay with their relatives. They come here during the day for meals, trainings and some social- psycho support that gets them going.
“We get the kids through social welfare, child line and some direct referrals, but all these who direct or give us children do not follow up with support.
The center has struggled with the provision of food since 1995, hence the joy they have today thanks to a number of local corporates who have come to their aid.
“We are grateful to National foods for their pledge to offer us a monthly donation of 5kg’s salt and 200kg’s mealie-meal. We also have Bakers Inn that has come handy with 10 loaves of bread supplied to us daily. We have been speaking to Schweppes and they could be giving us juices especially for our school going kids.
Emilia James, who says she is inspired by Isaiah 8:18 “Behold, I and the children that the Lord has given me,are for signs and wonders in Israel..” says that once the area of food is taken care of, they would find the energy and time now to focus on the more difficult challenges in rehabilitating the young people who are often forced by circumstances to be on the streets.
Zambuko House was started by Bro Canisius Chishiri in 1994 as “a refuge and rehabilitation centre for orphaned and vulnerable male teens and young adults.” The residents of Zambuko House receive a home like environment that shields them from the vagaries of street life, shelter, and provides them with spiritual and moral development through attending local churches, 24 hours social support, skills training, primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as sporting and recreation programmes.
“Our aim is to develop the young ones and offer them back to society and families as rehabilitated citizens. That is our ultimate objective. But we do not always achieve that.
“We have a challenge especially with drug abusers. Our system here does not properly rehabilitate drug abusers, like they do in other countries. We wish to be able to do that one day.
“We also have challenges with people you would think are grown up professionals in town, who engage some of the street girls in commercial sex, hence it becomes difficult to entice such young girls from the streets where there are getting “easy money.”
Zambuko house also functions as a drop in centre which provides the youth from the streets with space and opportunities for bathing, washing their clothes, food, medical help and informal counselling.
“Once every month, we have workshops to discuss sexual and reproductive health needs, gender issues, health. HIV testing and counseling is also done through the local clinic staff. Occasionally we also hold workshops that involve personnel from the police and the army to address the girls’ grievances with regards sexual abuse allegations they level against the armed forces.