Love and Com­pas­sion: Com­mu­nity helpers of the less priv­i­leged

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/opinion - Fea­tures Crys­ta­bel Chikayi

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.

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