Jean Cornneck (78) established Mother of Peace Community (MOPC) to look after abandoned children by providing the structure of a home and family; to maintain language and cultural differences as far as possible; to bring children up to be responsible members of society and to provide care to the destitute that are terminally ill.
Jean Cornneck is a nurse by profession and worked for the ministry of Health since 1982. After serving four years in the Ministry, she transferred on promotion to the Public Service Commission from 1988-1993 as an assistant secretary.
In 1993, she retired. When she was about to retire she began to have so much love and affection for the street kids.
That was one of the biggest reasons that motivated her to establish MOPC. To her, it was a calling from God to do the job.
In 1994, she established the community with two couples — the Van DerSyds and the McDonalds. The Van DerSyd moved to England and the McDonalds opened another orphanage.
Cornneck was left in charge of the MOPC. To the MOPC it is a mission and a calling from above to restore traditional family life — in particular the Catholic way of life based on Christian gospel values and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The organisation was initially formed to provide care and support for the HIV and Aids-affected and infected orphans after the realisation of their isolation, marginalisation, neglect and discrimination in society as a result of their health, status and conditions.
A lot of negative attitudes and misconceptions (coupled with traditional beliefs) worsened the fate of the HIV and Aids-infected orphans leading to a lot of stigma being attached to them and their caregivers.
The MOPC has seven areas of focus that govern it:
Care for people living with terminal illness HIV and Aids and other.
Care for disabled/destitute and aged persons.
Care for caregivers.
Care for spiritually ill.
Care of finances to run a simple community.
Care of God’s bounty — the land for self-sufficient, farming and other income generating programmes.
Care of the new order lay and religions.
The number of children fluctuates between 130-150 due to the reintegration, adoption, fostering, new admission and deaths.
MOPC through its farming, building and outreach activities, also benefits members of adjacent rural community in terms of employment, food, clothing, healthcare, farming skills, HIV education/support services and water resource projects.
They also secure alternative feeding for babies whose mothers are HIV-positive.
Dadirai Gwenzi confirmed she was one of the people who was assisted by MOPC. Dadirai came to MOPC selling bananas when she was five months pregnant with twins. She didn’t have money since her husband was not working by that time.
Jean Connerck helped her with everything she needed for the upkeep of the babies. MOPC employed her husband who unfortunately later passed on.
Concurrently, she is working at the orphanage for her children. Dadirai said she had benefited knowledge on skills about life such as how to keep poultry, baking and sewing. And above all she was taught how to love and give.
Tendai Bonde also obtained help from MOPC. Both his parents passed away and he didn’t have money to continue with school. He was educated up to Grade 5.
His neighbours directed him to MOPC to seek for employement. Jean Cornneck helped a lot by giving him food, clothes and even a house to stay on the farm.
Cornneck supported him to learn all the skills provided by MOPC such as being an electrician, to drive a tractor, motorbike scooter and a car. He is also good in constructing, painting, welding and blacksmithing.
Kudakwashe Sigauke, was abandoned when he was young and he came to MOPC through the Social Welfare department in 2000. MOPC is paying his fees, food and clothes at Mutoko High School. MOPC is also teaching him to be independent through farming, house chores and playing different sports.
Anthony Soda’s mother passed away and the family failed to look after him because of poverty. He is doing Form 1 at Mutoko High School. Life had changed for the better, said Soda.
He can go to school in a car or on bicycle while other pupils normally walk. MOPC is providing him with food, school fees and a home. 12 girls from MOPC are married and they have 28 children. One boy got married.
The MOPC has so many auxiliary projects which help the community to run smoothly and provide goods and services to the community.
On site is a pre-school and crèche which is fully operational for both MOPC and children of the staff.
Funding comes from the farm products which they sell and well-wishers in the community.