Musi Trust Foundation builds facilities for children with special needs in Zimbabwe

Published: 01 August 2014 | by Janine Dube
Musi Trust Foundation builds facilities for children with special needs in Zimbabwe
Musi Trust Zimbabwe, founded by Sakhile Sibanda-Kamera, is currently working on a project to build a hostel for special needs students at Fatima Primary School.

Musi Trust aims to provide accommodation for children from different parts of rural Matabeleland North.

Speaking to OneVybe about the Fatima Primary School project, Sakhile said, "Our aim with this project is to build a hostel for special needs students at Fatima Primary School.

"We have 22 deaf and mute children and 6 children with visual impairment.

"All these pupils are from different districts in Matabeleland North, and they are all boarders; the school has challenges in providing proper accommodation facilities since most of them are orphans and from poor families.

"Presently some of the special needs students are temporarily staying at the secondary school and some are staying at a Catholic housing structure.

"The students who live at Fatima Secondary walk approximately 12 kilometres back and forth throughout the day between the two schools.

"Some of the students are blind, it is bushy, and not very safe.

"It is in the Hwange National Park area, dangerous wild animal frequent the area, and they told us a story of how they found a dead python.

"The pupils ages range from 6 years to 16 years old.

"This year between January and March 12 potential students with disabilities were turned away from the school this year due to accommodation issues.

"More will be turned away if this accommodation issue is not resolved. The school has capacity to enrol more children with disabilities, accommodation remains an impediment."

Pupils set to benefit from Musi Trust Zimbabwe's work

Sakhile told OneVybe that she has always wanted to have an orphanage but relocating to the USA and then Canada made her realise that she had to achieve other things before she could start her orphanage.

Her journey in starting Musi Trust Zimbabwe began when she was working on her masters at the University of Liverpool. Initially, Sakhile wanted to do a masters in nursing but she ended up doing a masters in international public health.

"My assignments focused on health care issues in Zimbabwe.

"After writing an assignment based on the Zimbabwean health care system about public health programs that contribute to continuing health inequalities and inequities in low income countries, my instructor, Dr. Walter wrote this comment in response to my assignment; 'The statistics you provided were very disheartening to read, but they demonstrate the continued health inequities in low income countries. If a hospital cannot afford to have blankets for their patients, a mobile mammography unit would be extremely far fetched'.

"I then began the Facebook group 'Blanket Collection for Mpilo Hospital', to raise awareness to the issue and to mobilise resources to purchase blankets for the hospital.

"It was not an easy decision, because I battled with fear of failure; but with God's guidance and assurance we made it.

"It was a childhood dream to do charity work, but it was a dream not well informed.

"After going through the MPH program at the University of Liverpool, my dream of being involved in charity work became a lot more informed.

"I learned that it is us the people who drive change with our efforts irregardless of how big or small our contributions are to society."

Sakhile with blankets and baby clothes collected through 'Blanket Collection for Mpilo Hospital'

Sakhile is currently based in Zimbabwe while she does some research for her dissertation and she also does some advocacy work, occasionally volunteers at Mpilo Hospital and helps with fundraising and event planning.

"We also visit local orphanages doing needs assessments especially if we have something to donate," Sakhile told OneVybe.

The challenges with setting up a structure to help appears to have a bit of a paradox for Sakhile and her team.

"One has to have a registered charity or a trust to assist at the level at which we want to engage in," said Sakhile.

"The challenges which we faced were that we had a project to fundraise for but we did not have registration.

"We applied for the registration of Musi Foundation Zimbabwe (NGO), but it takes a long time to get registration; between a year to 3 years sometimes.

"That was our first challenge with our current project, until we got the Trust registered.

"The legal services to register the Trust cost between $600 to $800; but we were lucky a young lawyer by the name of Dumisani Dube donated his services. We only paid $50 NANGO.

"Another difficulty we faced was that as a Facebook group people were having a difficult time with taking us seriously.

"Some could not even relate with us and actually believing that I volunteer my services for free expecting nothing in return."

Regardless of the challenges, Sakhile persevered because she felt that failure is not an option especially when working on a great cause.

She and the Musi Trust focused on finding the most effective strategy and so far this has proved fruitful despite the enduring challenges.

On what drives her, Sakhile said, "when a child with special needs is denied access to education, they are more vulnerable to abuse and can be exposed to exploitation which could include being engaged in dangerous work such as begging on the streets.

"A safe, inclusive and participatory education benefits all children, regardless of their abilities or disabilities."

A dormitory at Fatima School

Fortunately, the Lupane community has been supportive and Sakhile says the local teachers managed to get a positive response from community volunteers when they sought assistance with clearing of the building site.

However, the department of social welfare is apparently financially struggling and it is up to to private individuals to pitch in and help.

"The catholic community has provided housing for some of the children, and World Vision pays school fees for some of the students," said Sakhile.

"The special needs teachers contribute some of their own financial resources to buy some basic necessities for these children from their teacher salaries."

To help Musi Trust Zimbabwe to assist Fatima Primary School's special needs department in building a dormitory facility for 100 children with a variety of disabilities and teachers please contact Sakhile on:
Blanket Collection for Mpilo Hospital Facebook page.

Donations can be in cash or kind, including bricks, cement, building material.

For cash donations:                                                                                     
Canada: email money transfer to
Paypal: Paypal acc, under
UK bank account details:
Santander Bank
Mpilo Hospital Project
Sort Code: 090128
Account Number: 51635489
- OneVybe/MusiTrustZimbabwe

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