Love and Compassion: Community helpers of the less privileged
GIGGLES are heard and broad-gummy smiles seen as children and youths hold hands to form a circle while singing “dance around together”, a popular nursery rhyme. The children, many who are orphans, have foster parents who watch as they play and beam with so much joy. The youths are a group of young leaders from Love and Compassion, an organisation which aims at impacting the lives of less privileged children as well as keep their hopes alive.
One of the founding members of the organisation, Mr Nyasha Ndlovu, said the group was formed by seven friends from Mtshabezi High School in 2011.
“It was just the seven of us when we thought of hosting a church conference during a school holiday to revive our inner man. People came to the inaugural conference in numbers so we decided to host conferences for pupils every holiday. We called the sessions Mega Schools,” said Mr Ndlovu.
While the conferences were a success, he said, they realised they were neglecting the needs of the less privileged.
“Mega Schools was an efficient ministry but it was not reaching out to the needy. We had neglected a Bible scripture, James 1:27, which says we should visit the fatherless and widows. We then started visiting orphanages and old people’s homes after every Mega Schools conference meeting. The visits became an annual routine, which we called the Love and Compassion ministry,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the Love and Compassion ministry is open to anyone who is willing to lend a helping hand.
“Because Love and Compassion was growing each year, we decided to elect leadership structures for the ministry. The ministry’s leadership changes yearly as a way of grooming as many young leaders as possible. We, as the Mega Schools board elects the leadership from among the pupils who attend the Mega Schools conference and those that accompany us during our visits to orphanages and other homes,” said Mr Ndlovu.
For now, Love and Compassion only visits orphanages in Bulawayo.
“We’re limited to visiting orphanages in Bulawayo as the members of Love and Compassion are mostly school children. They can’t afford transport fees if we were to go out of Bulawayo and we also don’t have an out of town travel budget at the moment,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Although the main aim of the organisation is to impart love to the people they visit, he said, they also try to meet their physical needs. They have so far visited, among other homes, Thembiso Children’s Home, Peniel Orphanage, Isaiah Children’s Home and Sandra Jones Orphanage.
They only visit registered homes for accountability purposes.
“Visiting registered homes is so as to ensure our movement is accounted for and we also avoid unnecessary complications in the process as the majority of the organisation is made up of pupils.
‘‘When we visited Sandra Jones Orphanage for example, there was tight security at the home. The directors and children’s foster parents at the home are very much concerned about who they allow into the orphanage,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The chairperson of Love and Compassion, Mr Jacob Kasonga, said a holistic approach is needed when dealing with vulnerable groups.
“We also hold devotions upon arrival at the homes we visit. Our goal is to raise rounded youths so we share the word of God and pray before anything else is done,” said Mr Kasonga.
He said when they interact with orphans; their goal is to boost their self-esteem.
“When we visit orphanages, we play games with the children, help clean the orphanages and also make donations in cash and kind. We do this so that they realise we’re equals and the fact that they live in a home doesn’t make them any less of a human being,” said Mr Kasonga.
The donations, he said, are gathered from well-wishers who attend the Mega Schools conferences.
“One of the games we play is the balloon volleyball whereby we fill a balloon with water and use it for playing volleyball. If the balloon bursts in one’s hands then that person will be out of the game. The winner is given sweets as a prize. The children are always happy to have us around, some often ask when we’ll come back to see them,” said Mr Kasonga.
The visits are also an opportunity to chat with the orphans individually and learn of their dreams and aspirations.
Love and Compassion encourages the children to continue dreaming big.
“We’re trying to follow Biblical teachings. The Bible says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”, we’re trying to emulate that same kind of love. When we get to an orphanage, it’s not about clothes or other material things because we don’t have much ourselves. We visit the less privileged to offer love and fill some void in their hearts. When we’re around, we make sure they forget that they’re orphans,” said Mr Kasonga.
A lot of talent which needs to be cultivated is buried in orphanages, he said.
“I’ve discovered children who can sing – it’s my desire that this talent doesn’t go to waste. As a start, we can help them form choirs as a way of nurturing their talent,” said Mr Kasonga.
“Going forward, we don’t want to visit orphanages only – we also want to reach out to street kids, families and anyone else who needs love and compassion.”— @ cchikayi.