IN RECENT months Zimbabwe has only hit Australian news headlines for the politics of cricket or conflict, but Mr Astonishment Mapurisa has arrived in this country with good news of an effective long-term partnership between UnitingWorld and a number of projects near Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
For five years Mr Mapurisa has served as the Director of the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home, about 20 kilometres north of Harare’s centre.
A social worker by profession, he has worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Zimbabwe’s Department of Social Welfare and Ministry of Justice.
Mr Mapurisa was in Australia in July to meet with church partners to highlight the good work of the home Rev Matthew Rusike established 60 years ago.
His visit has been made possible by UnitingWorld, Qantas Airways, and the Presbytery of Bremer Brisbane.
The past eight years have seen the home change from a dormitory-style institution to small home-style accommodation units, providing individual care plans for the children with a focus on cultural and spiritual heritage.
The home now cares for over 6000 children in its residential and community-based orphan care schemes.
The UnitingWorld partnership serves to promote the special gifts and talents of each child as they overcome trauma and realise their full potential.
Mr Mapurisa said this work helped take the gospel message out of the pulpit and into the lives of the world’s most vulnerable.
“In a population of 40 million, we have more than two million orphaned or vulnerable children,” he told Journey.
The residential program provides 145 children with accommodation, food and education through school fees and books.
“The Church has also set up community resource centres across the country,” he said.
“In this way we also provide for children in communities, foster care or adoptive households and even child-headed families.”
Mr Mapurisa seemed anything but astonished as he spoke about fourteen-year-olds caring for four or five siblings or grandparents caring for up to 14 children.
“Our residential home has become so important to provide some relief.
“Across the country our community resource centres try to develop livelihood support programs to create income to help with food and school fees.”
Flight attendant Kellie Adams of Karana Downs Uniting Church recently spent time at the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home as a volunteer.
“Despite the poverty the staff and children are very happy,” said Ms Adams.
“It’s a family environment where their love and graciousness toward one another was so obvious to me.”
Ms Adams has visited the home several times since she was introduced to it while on a trip with the Qantas Cabin Crew Team (QCCT), a charity consisting of volunteers from the Qantas network.
Now her congregation, Karana Downs Uniting Church, is raising funds to install water tanks that will change lives as children will no longer have to cart heavy buckets of drinking water from a bore.
Mr Mapurisa’s visit takes place as the Zimbabwe Council of Churches continues to demand that Zimbabwe’s political leaders fully implement the signed Global Political Agreement (GPA) to repair the economy, improve access to education and health care, decrease the high unemployment rate, and improve food security.
Photo : Director of the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home Astonishment Mapurisa. Photo by Osker Lau