It all began in 2002, as a community service initiative by a group of about 10-15 friends, some who were enrolled in different Harare colleges, and other young professionals cutting their teeth in the
world of work. The friends would – in between their studies and work – take time to visit and interact with orphans and vulnerable children in the city’s children’s homes and hospital wards. Back then, the group, made up mostly of the members of the Rotaract Club of Harare West, would meet every Friday evening at the Lucy Ibbortson centre, along Hebert Chitepo Avenue in Harare.
Amongst the highlights of their usual activities were the often impromptu but fun-filled visits to the former Highfield Probation Hostel, which by then had had been renamed Hupenyu Hutsva Children’s home. The visits were characteristically spontaneous, with the only formality being the luncheons that would follow the diverse outdoor fun games with the children. The home would soon endear itself to the participants over time.
Whilst the Department of Social Welfare had made enormous efforts to rebrand the institution, the home’s previous identification and related stigma as a prison facility for adolescents had proven difficult to shack off, even after the change of name. The club members saw this as a stumbling block to the rehabilitation of children, many of whom were children from the streets of Harare. In order to redress the situation, the friends decided to renovate the former probation hostels’ holding cell units to make them child friendly. They also sponsored the home’s chicken rearing project to improve both livelihoods and nutrition of the children.
The hyperinflationary economy, particularly at its height in 2008, however, nearly saw the collapse of the group as the mostly young professional membership emigrated to other countries regionally and abroad in search of greener pastures. Yet, as providence would have it, these challenges prompted the remaining members to quickly reorganise themselves. This, inevitably, resulted in the narrowing down of activities as the few members decided to prioritize some of the least-served needs in their communities.