Computer Literacy and Life Skills Training at Kuda Vana

Uncle Knowledge, Kuda Vana’s Assistant Administrator, wrote the following article about Kuda Vana’s computer literacy program.

In the modern world where businesses rely heavily on technology, computer literacy is an undoubtedly vital and invaluable skill. Having decent computer skills means that you can perform the tasks that competing candidates may not be able to. This knowledge can result in you getting hired over your competitors. Computers are also used in studies especially at university and college level to do assignments, researches, dissertations and reports. Entrepreneurs inevitably use computers to do researches, write and review reports.

With all the advantages that comes with computer literacy, it is difficult for most Zimbabwean children to acquire these skills. Poverty and lack of access to technology make it virtually impossible for many children to learn what they will need to compete in business one day.  

Fortunately, the children at Kuda Vana are privileged to have access to a few laptops where they are learning essential computer literacy skills. We are currently working with a group of twelve young people. They have started learning how to use Microsoft Word, basic typing, inserting tables and pictures, and printing among other things. We will also ensure they are proficient in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and other basic program. Lessons are done on Sundays and the children enjoy them to such an extent that they always show up early. Most of the children are doing so well, a few are struggling but we are patiently helping them. 

 Learning to type is hard work!

Learning to type is hard work!

The goal is to ensure that when they leave Kuda Vana, each child is equipped with the skills they will need to be self-sufficient and employable in many forms. Some will go on to be entrepreneurs, some will go to university and others will begin families, but regardless we know we will have given them what they need to not just survive, but thrive. 

 Learning to input data into spreadsheets

Learning to input data into spreadsheets

 Working together to solve a problem

Working together to solve a problem

Winter Camp Meeting in Zimbabwe

Uncle Knowledge, Kuda Vana’s Assistant Administrator, wrote the following article about his experience taking several of our kids to Camp Meeting.

Kuda Vana works hard to ensure the children in our care have access to every opportunity, and can develop meaningful relationships outside of the Children’s Home. Last month we took eight of our children, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, to Camp Meeting in the Vumba Mountains, which straddle the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border.

Prior to the trip, the children sat down with their Mamas and Aunties to discuss expectations for their camp experience, and ensure they felt prepared. I was their chaperone, and after their trip, the girls counselor told me “the children from Kuda Vana are behaving so well, even better than ours!” They really enjoyed playing games with the other children and were punctual in showing up to meetings.

 Uncle Knowledge takes a selfie with the children on the trip

Uncle Knowledge takes a selfie with the children on the trip



One of the things I was most impressed by was the children’s ability to participate in Bible studies. They were separated into their age groups, and I noticed that this was one area our children felt very confident in as they know a lot of Bible stories from their time at home. Many of them struggle with low self-esteem, and it was great to see them feeling confident.

 The kids studying the Bible together at Camp Meeting

The kids studying the Bible together at Camp Meeting

After the evening service the children would remain to have a short session of prayer. We utilized this opportunity to pray for all of the children, donors, Mamas and Uncles who are involved in Kuda Vana. I was moved by their commitment to stay for this every evening.

Several of our children were also baptized, which is always a wonderful thing to see. It was a terrific trip. Thank you to our supporters who continue to make things like this possible for the children in our care.


Not your typical orphanage

Kuda Vana is not your typical orphanage. In addition to our Children’s Home and School, we are also active in our community, equipping families to stay intact through agriculture and self-sufficiency programs.

The Marange Family Assistance program supports two young girls, Shelma, 15 and Olivia, 20, who are celebrating their recent certification in a nurses aide program!  Earlier this year, two donors supported Shelma and Olivia in achieving their goal to work in the nursing field. 

Shelma and Olivia have obtained their certificates from St. John's Ambulence, a first aide and Nurses aide training center in Mutare.  Olivia now has the knowledge needed to take care of herself, who is living with HIV, and can go on to get a job as a home-based care nurses aide.  Shelma has had the desire to be a nurse for some time and with her excellent grades in school along with the nurses aide certificate, she now has the opportunity to get a clinic attachment as a nurses aide and go on to nursing school! 

We are looking forward to seeing more children under our care achieve their educational and career goals. Thank you for your continued support!

 Shelma and Olivia proudly pose with their instructor and mentor, Rumbi.

Shelma and Olivia proudly pose with their instructor and mentor, Rumbi.




School holidays - a time for fun and rest!

Fun fact: the education system in Zimbabwe goes year-round, with three 30 day holidays to give everyone a chance to rest, help out at home and see their families. Many high school students go to boarding school, so it's an important time for young people to connect with their families. 

Children at Kuda Vana look forward to school holidays as their older siblings return from high school, and joyful reunions between friends. Kuda Vana's high school students attend a variety of boarding schools based on their academic and emotional needs. 

Two of our high school girls attend a competitive high school in Harare - one wants to a doctor, the other a teacher. Their school takes annual trips to culturally significant spots on Zimbabwe and abroad, and this past school holiday they had the opportunity to travel to Nyanga National Park.  We thought you'd enjoy seeing photos from their trip! 

 J enjoys a view and some sunshine on a cool winter day

J enjoys a view and some sunshine on a cool winter day

 J and D are best friends - they have so much fun together in school. 

J and D are best friends - they have so much fun together in school. 

 Goofing around with friends from school

Goofing around with friends from school

 D enjoys participating in some traditional dancing 

D enjoys participating in some traditional dancing 

 J shares a smile on a hike to a waterfall

J shares a smile on a hike to a waterfall

Junior Achievement Success Skills Day

On June 19, Junior Achievement Zimbabwe held a life skills and entrepreneurship training for 28 teens living near or at the Kuda Vana Youth Transition Program site in Buhera. Participants included Kuda Vana young people currently in the Youth Transition Program, as well as members of the community. Junior Achievement (JA) is the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.

The goal of the program was to equip each young person with the skills to generate income as small business owners, and to ensure they have a solid understanding of how to manage their finances.

The day began with an overall assessment of where each young person was at in terms of their existing skill sets and confidence levels. The baseline testing measured knowledge and skills such as business planning, financial statements, saving and investing, stress management, problem solving and communication. The training then focused on the skills gap identified.

 Ice breaker and team building games helped warm everyone up for the day. 

Ice breaker and team building games helped warm everyone up for the day. 

Because many of the young people participating have experienced significant trauma and setbacks in their lives, many of them identified as having low-confidence and resilience levels. Thus, JA spent the first part of the day focused on soft skills, an essential component to be successful in life, at school, and at work! The morning focused on fostering personal development such as work ethic, decision-making, effective communication, self-awareness, confidence and team work. This personal development work set a firm foundation for learning about entrepreneurship and launching a small business. 

JA encouraged participants to use innovative thinking to learn business skills that support positive development. The group formed a "Company" that will launch a business enterprise with the potential of job creation and sustaining their needs. They elected Company officers, including a President, Director of Marketing, Finance, Human Resources and Production. In fact, Kuda Vana's own Blessing and Lovemore were chosen as President and Director of Marketing respectively! 

 Kuda Vana's Lovemore (far left) and Blessing (third from left) pose proudly as Company officers! 

Kuda Vana's Lovemore (far left) and Blessing (third from left) pose proudly as Company officers! 

The young people had to identify a need in their community and come up with a product or service to meet that need.  As part of their business plan, they were also encouraged to use a part of their profits to benefit their community and assist other disadvantaged or vulnerable people. Learning to give back is an essential component to success. 

Ultimately, the group decided on launching a chicken business, which will sell eggs and stationary at the local school. Each young person agreed to contribute $1.00 towards the enterprise. JA will monitor and support the new Company with monthly visits to ensure the new business venture is a success. 

We are so excited for this new partnership, which gives our young people real-world skills that will propel them to self-sufficient adulthood! 

 All smiles at the end of a long, productive day with JA! 

All smiles at the end of a long, productive day with JA! 

 

 

 

Appreciating Moms on Father's Day

 Giving little M a bath

Giving little M a bath

When you are family to the fatherless, being a father-figure is an important job. Uncle William, Kuda Vana's Director, Uncle Davis our Administrator and Uncle Knowledge, our Assistant Administrator all act as mentors and father figures to the children at Kuda Vana Children's Home. They are there to listen, guide, discipline and love each child as if they were there very own, while also running the daily operations of Kuda Vana. 

This past Father's Day Uncle Knowledge decided to take the meaning of being a dad to a whole new level - by taking on a bunch of tasks our amazing Mamas do every day! 

Uncle Knowledge spent the day learning to cook a meal, washing and changing babies in the nursery, tending the garden and much more. 

 

"What I did today helped me understand more how important all of the Mamas, my mom and my future wife are. "

We are grateful for Knowledge and all of the other father figures at Kuda Vana! 

 Playing with kids on campus

Playing with kids on campus

 Knowledge waters the family gardens

Knowledge waters the family gardens

 Cooking a meal under the supervision of a Mama

Cooking a meal under the supervision of a Mama

 Learning to change a smelly diaper

Learning to change a smelly diaper

A typical evening at Kuda Vana...

 House 4 tries to get a good photo together on their veranda. 

House 4 tries to get a good photo together on their veranda. 

One of the highlights of visiting Kuda Vana Children’s Home is sharing family dinners and worship with each of the houses. I had the privilege of joining House 4 several times. Below is a typical evening at any of the four houses at Kuda Vana. 

When you run a house with ten children ages three-16, routine is of the utmost importance. Each evening, Mama Nomsa of House 4 serves a traditional dinner of Sadza (stiff grain porridge made from maize that is the staple carbohydrate food in Zimbabwe), greens and a side of scrambled eggs with tomato or meat at 6pm. The older children help in meal preparation and clean-up. I had my first experience eating Sadza without utensils (it is traditionally eaten with the fingers, and used to scoop up the rest of the meal), and was fairly proud when I didn’t make a giant mess. 

After the meal is eaten, every child pitches in to clean up and the family gathers for evening worship at 7pm. The children take turns leading out in song service, which they all enthusiastically participate in. Tonight, it was Vaidah, the eldest, who stood in front of the family and lead a chorus of songs that even I recognized – “Peace Like a River,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Deep and Wide.” This was particularly poignant to me, given that earlier that day Vaidah had bravely shared the story of house her and her four siblings had come to Kuda Vana under incredibly tragic circumstances. 

Afterwards, Toastmaster style, Vaidah introduced her sister Videline to give the opening prayer, followed by 11 year old Blessed who gave the evening’s devotion. Blessed read from a primary devotional book titled “Hiking With Jesus”, which offers short allegories that teach important life lessons and point to Christ. Tonight the story was about the amazing Loofah sponge and its many uses – how even as a dead creature it offers a superior way to cleanse our bodies. God provides for us in so many ways! The children read from the Bible and learned about how God can cleanse us not just of the dirt on the outside, but our sin on the inside. 

After the devotion, each child was asked to share what they personally learned from the story. Rose said that she felt like the problem with sin was, unlike dirt, you didn’t always know it was there, and she was glad that if she asked for forgiveness Jesus could show her the sin and make her clean. Prayer and more songs followed, and then household announcements closed the evening. Each child shared something about their day, or mentioned a problem they were having with a sibling so that Mama Nomsa could talk about it with them. Even the three and four year olds participated, and sat quietly through the entire family worship. 

Participating in this special family time was a highlight of my time here – it is so evident that these children are growing to be responsible, caring individuals that love God and others. 

- Tara Petersen 

 House 4 gets ready for family worship in their living room. Little V really needed a tissue! :) 

House 4 gets ready for family worship in their living room. Little V really needed a tissue! :)