Bibeat Gondo (46) formed the Ark of God because of the harsh background she comes from. She grew up with a passion within her to help underprivileged children and orphans, especially those who are still young and cant make decisions on their own.
Her main aim is to give children the love they cannot get from a normal family set-up. She treats them like any other child growing up with parents around him/her.
Gondo herself grew up as orphan. Her mother passed on and she, together with her only brother, were raised by a stepmother and her father. Her stepmother abused them.
She confessed that they didnt have the parental love they deserved when they were growing up. This touched her so much she developed a passion for helping any orphan in the community. She wanted provide them with the love she failed to get from her parents.
The Ark of God is a registered and licensed orphanage in Norton which was established in 1992 and opened its doors to the first orphans three children from her late sisters and brother. After taking in these children, people started bringing their children for her to look after.
At the moment Ark of God has 31 children. Gondo targets children from zero to 13 years who are vulnerable and cannot make decisions on their own. Out of 32 students, eight are HIV-positive and most are orphaned by the HIV and Aids pandemic.
Her husband confirmed when his wife started her project, he was not happy about it. It took some time for him to accept it because it was hard for him to make money.
All his hard-earned money would go to these children. However, with time and understanding the plight of the children, he managed to accept it and now he has the passion to look after these children as well.
Before the husband moved to Mozambique he used to work in a certain hotel in the city. He would gather leftovers from the hotels restaurant and bring those for the children to eat.
Silas Gondo started staying with Bibeat Gondo when he was 12 years old. His parents are late and before he was taken aboard the Ark of God, he was staying with his grandmother in the rural area.
Bibeat took the boy from the grandmother so she could look after him at the orphanage. Silas earned himself respect and favour from Bibeat because of the good behaviour he displayed while staying at the Ark of God.
By the time he was supposed to return to the rural areas, grandma was no more and Silas had no other home than the orphanage. Silas is currently staying with Bibeat.
He said Bibeat took the responsibility of educating him up to Form 4. Silas is now helping other children in the orphanage since there is a lot of work. He runs the everyday activities of the orphanage. He helps with the administration of the project and has his hands on whatever needs to be done.
Luke Gondo started staying with Bibeat when he was nine years old. Both his parents passed away and he didnt have anyone to look after him. Bibeat was touched by his situation and took him in. He went to school up to Form 4.
Gondo provided food, uniforms and everything for him so Luke could have a comfortable stay and decent education. Now Luke is also helping other children at the orphanage.
The Ark of God is proud of the children raised by the orphanage. They are proud of giving hope to the hopeless and making sure the hope manifests itself in reality.
Examples include the following:
Trymore Gondo is now a pastor in Kadoma.
Sekai Gondo is now a teacher.
Rumbidzai Gondo is now married.
The Ark of God is responsible for the welfare of children who normally come in at tender ages. The duty of the orphanage is to give them food, accommodation and clothing.
The orphanage employs one maid to look after cleaning and laundry. The task, however, is also shared among elder orphans.
The orphanage is housed in Bibeats personal house, a four-bedroomed house where she stays as well. She actually sleeps with some of the orphans in her bedroom, especially the youngest ones the babies since she sometimes has to attend to them at night.
The rest are accommodated in other rooms in the house. The orphanage goes out to look for food on farms around Norton. Usually they get maize and vegetables not needed farms.
They get clothes from well-wishers and they also buy some. For education the kids go to St Ericks Primary and St Ericks Secondary schools. Of the 31 children, 22 are currently in school.
Eight of these childrens fees are taken care of by the social welfare department while the rest are paid for by well-wishers and the orphanage itself.
The orphanage also acquires uniforms for the children and some from the older kids. Other well-wishers in the community come in to assist with whatever they can.
During their free time the children at the orphanage engage in the following:
Playing soccer and other games
Bible studies and prayer sessions
An interesting point to note is that most of these kids come to the orphanage as infants. Some are brought in by people. Some will not even have birth certificates and no one would know their surnames. In the end, they adopt the Gondo surname and then use the orphanages licence to obtain birth certificates so that they can be enrolled in school.
This brings about a sense of belonging, of family and of unity among the children at the orphanage.