It is Christmas, a wonderful reason to spend time with your family and celebrate. Of course not all children have this opportunity. Like elsewhere in the world, many children in Harare are orphaned, destitute, abandoned, have been abused, exposed to domestic violence and are desperately in need of shelter, food and education.
This year, Harare News is dedicating its Christmas Appeal to St Joseph’s House for Boys in Belvedere. This home can offer shelter to 55 disadvantaged boys from the age of eight to 21 years. However it is currently only able to accommodate 39 boys.
Founded in 1929 by the Anglican Church, the organisation provides a future for boys in need. The home provides boys with food, clothing, education and a secure environment. Most boys attend Allan Wilson School, while some attend other nearby secondary schools. A few go on to university, while others receive vocational training such as sewing, carpentry, welding, building and this year several bodys did a course on entrepreneurship.
Director of the home, William Machono says they face challenges in supplying food for the boys and paying their school fees.
Muchono says the government acknowledges their work although there have been hiccups in the payment of grants, which means it has been difficult to pay fees for the children on time.
He pointed out that the funding provided by the Department of Social Welfare does not cater for full upkeep, payment is not made on time and support does not continue when the boys turn 18.
St Joseph’s endeavours to keep the boys on, sometimes up to the age of 21, if they are still at school or need further training. Muchono says that they need to try to ensure that the boys have acquired a skill to establish their independence.
The home is currently constructing a separate hostel for the older boys, a project spearheaded by Jenny Jordaan. This enterprise is also serving as a vocational tool that will help train the boys in building construction. The home also runs poultry and gardening projects to help sustain the boys as well as giving them entrepreneurial skills. Unfortunately the poultry project is short of cash to keep it going while the agricultural project also need expensive power for irrigation.
St Joseph’s leases some of its space in the home to generate income to sustain the boys. They lease a hall and a football pitch. Another source of revenue is the home’s talented band that plays marimba, keyboard and drums. They can perform at events such as weddings, corporate functions and other suitable occasions.
Donations from organisations such as Delta, Toyota Zimbabwe, Churches, Bakers Inn and Rotary Club of Harare West all help to provide food, clothes, materials for maintenance and sometimes renovation.
Yet despite these donations, the institution is chronically short of regular income to pay salaries, city rates, utility bills, and other regular cash expenses. Like many homes around the capital, it is always looking for further support and sponsorship.
Regular cash donations, however small, would be very welcome. “It costs roughly $180 to care for each boy for a month,” said Muchono. Assistance can be through offering to pay fees, vocational trainings, motivational counsellors, driving lessons or computer projects. Think about hiring the hall or the football field and get the band to play at your next event.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0773 493 948 or 0772 270 128. Or visit 31 Denbigh Avenue, Belvedere, Harare.