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with George Seremwe, Founder of Child Future Africa and owner of
Small World Lodge
July 29, 2009
with George Seremwe
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did the Child Future Africa Project (CFA) come about?
came about through my development work in Zimbabwe, West Africa,
Vietnam and also my time in the Netherlands. I'm from a family
who were affected with the same problems that I have taken up and
am trying to solve. My parents died when I was abroad and I had
to send money home to support my brothers through school and things
like that. They managed to complete their studies and then I thought
let me take it further to other families who might be in the same
situation. Initially I sent clothing. My brother didn't make
it in school so I sent a tractor and a truck for him to start farming.
In that truck I put a lot of clothing, which I distributed. And
then of course as I did that I thought I should do it in a more
constructive way and also an organized way. That's when I
started Child Future Africa.
you were carrying out your development work, what organization were
you affiliated to?
I was affiliated
to the Netherlands Development Organization, which is supported
by the Dutch government. That was then, now it's more in consultancy.
is Small World Lodge linked to Child Future Africa?
in the Netherlands and when I came back home to make sure that I
do the work of Child Future Africa, I sold my belongings in the
Netherlands and I came to look for a house in Zimbabwe. I stayed
at the Small
World Lodge. The amount for which it was being sold was more
or less the amount I had in my budget to buy a house. I decided
to buy it since I didn't have a family; I'm not married
and I needed only one room. So I started running the business. I
also let Small World be the platform for volunteers or tourists
who are passing through to get them to know more about the plight
we are experiencing. I finance Child Future Africa from the proceeds
of Small World - Small World gives ten percent of its proceeds to
Child Future Africa.
exactly does Child Future Africa do?
children in communities by buying school fees and also promoting
income-generating activities, be it market gardening, or raising
poultry. We have been working with four schools, which we gave small
grants to. They buy chickens and then resell, and things like that.
From the proceeds, they have managed to buy books and pay school
fees for the orphans of their own choice. The idea is to promote
the community to solve their own problems. It's not to give
them handouts. I don't believe in that. That's why you
see that the set up is kind of a business venture. We also have
an orphanage, a village, not a home as such. I can call it even
a transit home for orphans. It's basically for those who are
really destitute and have nowhere to go. We do an assessment into
the community to see if there is extended family that can take care
of them or a child headed family and then we take them to the orphanage
village. They stay there, and as the situation improves back home,
in the village where they come from, or a family member comes back
from abroad, or whoever is willing to take them up we send them
back with the reintegration programme.
you say your long-term vision for Child Future Africa is to make
This has been
the long-term vision from the beginning. I think its proving to
be working because so far what I've been having is basically
capital investment in terms of the irrigation on the orphan which
we established and now the farm is producing enough food to take
care of the children. At the same time we are covering a little
bit of our operational expenses of the orphanage itself. So I think
I'm getting there.
many children are resident at the orphanage and then in total how
many children do you support?
The total number
we support I would say is 224.
of your CFA starting points is helping children develop their natural
skills and talents.
At the orphanage
we have got a number of activities going on. For example, agriculture
for those who are interested in agriculture and small business initiatives
like chicken projects, pig projects. At the same time we are located
close to a vocational training centre with which we try to link
those one who might not be able to make it to university. We link
them to that school and we give them the chance to get practical
training that is done professionally.
are your success stories?
Within a short
period of time, during the difficult times even, we have seen the
project managing to establish itself and in a position to generate
some income to be able to cover some of its own expenses.
do you stay positive in supporting children and growing their skills
in a country that has massive unemployment and such poor formal
helps. I try by all means to see positive where there is negative.
I avoid by all means negative energy. And at the same time I try
not to hang around too much negative energy. Where I can I avoid
challenges does Child Future Africa face?
don't come on time. It's a struggle so we do it bit
by bit. But on the other hand I would see it also as positive because
if I let the project grow very fast we'll lose control and
also maybe the sustainability might go away. It depends how I look
at it but at times that is quite a challenge. Also there are some
cases where we have one or two handicapped children or have disabilities
and we do not have the resources to take care of that. We have some
challenges in giving them proper training and also to link then
to institutions which could take care of those children. We have
started a new school. I think the community is struggling to build
that school so we are trying by all means to support them. It is
hard on the children because they are learning in a harsh environment,
under the trees with no books. Recently we also managed to donate
some furniture for a classroom block, which we built for the school.
But basically the agreement is that the community is supposed to
do that. They will continue to do that and we just keep on encouraging
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