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Mentally challenged children’s home in crisis

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Mentally challenged children’s home in crisis

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ELLEN MLAMBO
MIRROR REPORTER

MASVINGO – Alfred Walter Hostel, a home to 150 mentally challenged children based in Masvingo is in financial doldrums and can now barely take care of the children under its care.
A spokesperson for the home, Campion Chiromba is making frantic appeals to sponsors and well-wishers to come to the rescue of the home. The home is also appealing for funding to support its horticultural and other projects that can see it self- funding.
He said that the situation is so bad that they pay salaries late or slash them resulting in high staff turnover.
Chiromba attributed the crisis to shrinking support from traditional funders. The crisis has also been ascribed to the Government’s inability to avail funds for the per capita grant that the hostel receives of US$20 per child converted to ZWL$.
Alfred Walter Hostel provides accommodation, psychological support, medication, food security, clothes, access to health care and training to mentally challenged children from disadvantaged families between the ages of six and 18 learning at Ratidzo Zimcare Centre in Mucheke, Masvingo. 
Chiromba said most private sponsors were no longer able to extend the same support they provided in the past owing to the harsh economic environment. 
The situation is exacerbated by Government’s failure to disburse BEAM funds to schools thereby crippling operations.
“With regards to private business organisations we do not have perennial donors. There are local organisations that come and donate from time to time. At times we also get assistance in kind donations from individuals. In terms of international donors, they used to be three but now they are two remaining.
“Of those two that are still available they contribute plus or less 50 % of the expenses budget. Generally funding has dwindled by plus or minus 50 % from 2020 to date,” he said.
According to Chiromba the Hostel receives per-capita grants at US$20 per child converted to ZWL$. The last grant for January 2023 was received in August this year.
Thirty seven % of the grant is paid to Ratidzo Zimcare where the children go to school while 63 % is paid to the hostels for the day to day upkeep of the children.
Chiromba said the home also has horticulture projects where it raises part of the money for running the institution. He appealed to Government and the City Council for bigger land to run the projects.
“Our big challenge is that funds are shrinking. There now is even a condition for us to partly self- fund. We are appealing to well-wishers to come to our rescue with financial assistance so that the welfare of the children is not compromised.
“We have a number of projects like horticulture which we are doing. We are appealing for a bigger piece of land so that we can carry out the projects on a larger scale.
Efforts to get a comment from Masvingo Minister of State Ezra Chadzamira were futile as he wasn’t picking calls.
Masvingo Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa said they normally assist public institutions as Alpha Cottages Children Home and Mucheke Old People’s Home. He however, said that the institution can apply for land.
“We usually support public institutions and as of private institutions we support them here and there. Alfred Walter Hostel is a private institution. If they require more land, they can apply to council,” he said.
“We pay salaries late and sometimes slash them. This results in high staff turnover and we are now relying on interns from Red Cross,” he said. 
The institution has three greenhouses and one requires repairs. There is also a fowl run with a capacity to hold 3 000 broilers. The chicken project has been abandoned due to financial challenges. The broilers and eggs were supplied to the local community.

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