During their time in the “wilderness” after they were chased away from the Anglican Church-run orphanage in Murehwa in 2011, three caregivers — Sister (Sr) Dorothy Makwarimba, Sister Plaxedes Munatei and Sister Hannah Chitura — mourned over the fate of the orphans they had left behind.
Report by Feluna Nleya
This was at the height of an internecine fight that saw ex-
communicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga annexing the church properties after he had been disrobed, with Chad Gandiya having been appointed the new bishop.
“We always thought about the children we had left behind,” Sr Makwarimba said.
“We were concerned about how they were living. When we were at Juru Growth Point, some of the children would run away and come to us in search of food.”
Speaking to NewsDay after a visit to the orphanage, which has now been restored to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) following a Supreme Court ruling, Sr Makwarimba said their joy had been restored.
“We were happy to be coming back to the orphanage. It was so emotional. It is what we always prayed for after we were chased away, that we want to go back to the children. Our lives were different without the children,” she said.
Life is now back to normal at the orphanage after nearly two years of misery akin to that of a mother torn away from her children.
Makwarimba said when they returned, the situation at the orphanage could only be described as chaotic.
“We came back on December 16, and everything was upside down here. The home was dirty, the kids had no blankets, their clothes were torn and most of them had lost weight because of shortage of food during the time when we were not here. I was really touched by the situation at the orphanage when we came back,” she said.
She added that electricity had been switched off due to unpaid but bills.
“On the day we came, we could see joy from the kids, because they were waiting for us along the road, singing and giving praise to God that we were coming back to the home,” said Makwarimba.
Sr Munatei confirmed there was chaos upon their return and there were now working towards restoring the situation to normalcy.
“There was chaos at the orphanage, but normalcy is returning. There is still more work that needs to be done, but all is on track. We are seeing that the kids are changing gradually,” she said.
Sr Chitura said she was glad to be coming back to the home as it was their home also.
“I came back on New Year’s day. I was excited to be coming back to the orphanage and I thank God that he helped us come back here to take care of the kids,” she said.
Makwarimba said when they left there were 75 children, but five were chased away. What bothered her most were reports of abuses that occurred during their absence.
“One of the workers raped some of the girls who were here, but only one of the girls has opened up. We are giving the others time and we will talk to them individually,” she said.
Sr Munatei said they were praying that through the grace of God, they will be able reinstill discipline in some of the children and help them discern right from wrong.
“The kids no longer had discipline because they were doing whatever they wanted and the ill-treatment they experienced saw them changing their behaviour,” she said. The children were excited by the return of their caregivers. Tinotenda Nyoka (12) said: “It was painful when they left. Life was not so rosy without them. Things had really changed, so we are really happy that they are back now and we are now having fun.”
Pedzisai Hoba (12) said all the food items brought by well-wishers never reached them.
“When visitors brought food for the orphanage those who were around would share the food among themselves and we never used to get anything,” she said.
Sr Makwarimba said they had left seven cows, but when they came back there were only three and out of eight goats, only three remained.
CPCA diocesan secretary Reverend Clifford Dzavo said: “The situation was extremely pathetic. Most of the kids were dirty, clothes were torn and we really wonder what happened to the clothes. There was hunger, but we are trying to normalise all those issues now. We are still appealing to well-wishers to continue donating books, schoolwear and stationery.”
Dzavo added they were happy the caregivers were back and the threat of child abuse was now a thing of the past.
“We saw joy from the kids when they saw the sisters, they sang, danced, they were really happy and the local community came too. It really shows the kind of life the kids were living,” he said.