The Legacy of Education and Community Development through Nhaka Foundation
Aha! moments come in different ways. Sometimes intuition and past experiences are part of the reasons why trigger moments come to being. This was certainly the case for Patrick Makokoro. Fortuitous encounters with orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe exposed him to a plight bigger than anything he could have ever imagined. These encounters left an indelible mark on his heart, leading to questioning on his purpose here on earth and how young children, orphaned, wounded and vulnerable would need support for them to have a life full of possibilities. This led to Nhaka Foundation being born. For the past ten years, the organization has been on a quest to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe with recent forays into the Southern Africa region. The mission of Nhaka Foundation is to educate, feed, and improve the health of orphans and vulnerable children. The organization does this by providing access to comprehensive Early Childhood Development (ECD) services, quality education, psycho-social support programs, access to health services and daily nutritious meals at schools.
Many have argued that the vicious cycle of poverty seen in most communities in under developed countries can be tackled by education. Nhaka Foundation and its programs are working on tackling poverty and childhood malnutrition utilizing improved access to education as one of the tools. Nhaka Foundation’s thrust is to use Early Childhood Development as an entry point into communities, giving children a solid foundation in life and facilitating their transition from poverty into a world of endless possibilities.
One of the key questions that have been on the heart of Patrick Makokoro the past 11 years has been what legacy are you leaving your community? Are you contributing to the development of your community and of those that do not have the same opportunities as you do? What impact are your current life contributions making for future generations? When Patrick posed these questions to himself, he knew that his purpose and mandate was to improve lives through education.
The Nhaka Foundation works out of six key pillars and programs that all work in complementarity and provide a holistic effort to assisting children in vulnerable communities. Through its flagship program aimed at increasing access to early childhood development and education, the organization renovates and, in some cases, builds brand new classrooms. A Health Assessment program that assesses the health of the children through physical body checks and the provision of basic medications has also proved to be an important feature in the communities Nhaka Foundation works in. The organization also has a Feeding program that helps ensure that the children have access to a daily nutritious meal using food that is grown in established school nutrition gardens at the schools, part of an initiative of Nhaka Foundation and partners. Nhaka’s Teacher training programs build up the capacity of teachers by providing appropriate training to ensure enhanced support for the children and improved quality of education. Nhaka Foundation acknowledges that parents are children’s first teachers and therefore the Parenting education programs seek to support parents and caregivers in providing children with appropriate care in line with their rights as enshrined in the African Charter for the Rights of the Child. By also providing Psycho-social support through a biblically-based program, Nhaka Foundation attends to the emotional, spiritual and mental being of the children. In an incredible turn of events, the organization’s school fees sponsorship program has taken a life of its own as previous beneficiaries of the program are also now supporting other orphans and vulnerable children to go to school.
Nhaka Foundation utilizes a strength-based approach to community development called Appreciative Inquiry in order to assist the communities to identify their own internal capacities and strength to solve the challenges they face. Nhaka Foundation also works with various government ministries in Zimbabwe and other important stakeholders to move things forward in communities. They have a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to assist in the implementation of ECD programs. Nhaka Foundation also works with various local and international partners in advancing its mission.