Making Connections in Zimbabwe

Ross Lower School students spoke with children on the other side of the globe over Skype on December 7. Seated in the Multi-Purpose Room, students in pre-nursery through grade 5 learned about life in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

This unique conversation was facilitated by Dennis Gaboury, founder of ZimKids Orphan Trust, which cares for 200 orphans in Zimbabwe. He talked about the work he has done there over the last several years. In 2005, Dennis discovered a community of children, ages 18 months to 17 years, who were orphaned by AIDS and other illnesses, in one of the poorest areas of Bulawayo. He fell in love with their limitless imagination and good spirit as they played with wire toys and dolls they had made from discarded buttons, scraps of cloth, and other found items. Dennis decided to start selling the dolls in the United States to raise money for these kids.

During the assembly, Dennis screened a short film about his organization and showed photographs of the new learning center that he and these children built together on 2.5 acres of land. It took them three months simply to clear the land of all the trash that had been dumped there before they started building. Now, the children have a tech center, playground, kitchen, library, caretaker cottage, clinic, performance area, and greenhouse where they grow their own food—all of which they built themselves.

Once connected over Skype, a handful of ZimKids started off by singing a Zimbabwean song, much to the delight of the Ross students. Then came the questions, as one by one, Ross students lined up to speak into a microphone and learn more about the Zimbabwean way of life. “What are your normal activities in school?” “Where do you get your water from?” “What do you like to eat?” “Nyama!” the ZimKids replied in unison, which means meat. Dennis explained that meat is a rarity in Zimbabwe, so “it’s a big deal” when they get to eat it. Closing out the conversation, the Ross students sang, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” as the ZimKids swayed to the tune with big smiles on their faces.

Afterwards, everyone filed into the Atelier where the ZimKid dolls were on display for sale. Attached to each doll was a photo and description of its maker. Those who purchase the dolls are encouraged to write a message to the doll makers, who in turn write a letter back. All of the proceeds from each sale go directly toward meeting the nutritional, educational, and medical needs of the doll makers.

To learn more about this organization, visit zimkids.com