Chinese-supported chicken project thrives in Chitungwiza

…Youths, ex-prisoners and recovering addicts benefit

Chitungwiza, a sprawling suburb south-east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, is as much a bastion of various talents and prospects as well as vice.

Caught in a complicated social milieu, young people here have had to struggle with the pressures that come with society, a buffeting economic situation and narrowing window of opportunity to make it in life.

This unpredictable situation has given rise to all sorts of scenarios, but for many, it is the worst that wins: they end up caught in a web of crime, drugs, sex, prostitution, disease, political and gang violence and so on.

Unfortunately, many may never extricate themselves from the web.

However, for Abraham Matuka who himself grew up a neglected life in Mufakose – one of Harare’s social hotbeds – his wish is to pull young people from the abyss.

Founder of the Teen Rescue Mission, a charity that rehabilitates young social misfits and the underpriviliged,  Matuka has been struggling to find a proper vocation and activity to assist his charges.

This all changed recently when an organisation of Chinese expatriate women calling themselves Chinese Loving Mum Team, came to the rescue, by providing inputs for a chicken project that now holds lots of promise for Matuka and the community.

“Our joy just came through when we had the Loving Moms which is a group of Chinese women who are doing charity work,” Matuka said in a recent interview by Review & Mail.

“After they saw our work, they came through with the spirit of love to assist our teenagers. “They came up with a project that empowered our organisation. So the Loving Moms of the Chinese community they donated 700 chicks and the chicken feed as well. So they started monitoring the project together with us.”

In a few months, the chicken project blosssomed.

“As we speak right now, we have managed to do the first batch of 400 chickens, which sold out,” reviewed Matuka.

When Review & Mail visited Chitungwiza to witness the project, we were able to see the succulent and healthy chickens dressed for the market.

Interestingly, a Chinese businessman has bought the bulk of the lot to feed his workers, providing instant market for the project.

Cash is now flowing.

And, so too, are hopes.

“This project has even benefited the parents of our youths,” Matuka said.

“Some of them are single mothers who are raising children and they are now coming to work in the chicken project assisting the youths.”

With the results came real prospects for change in the fortunes of the community, which is bustling with people and young people especially with few chances in life.

Matuka explained: “This has brought excitement to our people and a positive attitude out of the young people who are now coming out of drug abuse and getting busy doing something.

“So we want to appreciate the Loving Moms of the Zimbabwe Chinese Business Association as well as the Chinese Embassy in Harare. They also have put their weight in supporting our young people.”

Saved

One of the beneficiaries, Yolanda Minhau said the project saved her from a hard situation at home.

“Last year things were bad at my parents’ home and Mr Matuka called me and we began working on the project,” she said.

“The project has not only come to our individual benefit but also other locals in the area. We are looking to expand the project to grow throusands of birds so that more members of the community can be assisted.”

She also hoped that she could engage in a number of other life skills and self-help endeavors.

“We would like to thank the Chinese people for coming to our rescue. They have really helped us,” she said cheerfully.

Her sentiments were shared by another beneficiary, 19-year-old Panashe Makanyisa who struggled with drugs after finishing “O” Level.

“I was on the street doing drugs and Mr Matuka counselled me about the dangers of drugs and invited me to gain skills at the centre,” he said.

They started making dishwashing liquid, but the project did not take off.

When the Chinese philanthropists came, a massive opportunity opened.

“We had no donors for the other projects and the chicken project gave us a huge lift,” said Makanyisa. “This will help many young people come out of drugs,” added the young man who has now assumed a leadership role.

He outlined the vision that with land available – which Matuka acquired from local authorities – there were opportunities for growing the scale of production.

New trajectory for Loving Mums

The Chinese Loving Mums have an impressive portfolio of charitable activities in Zimbabwe ranging from providing occassional goodies, running yearly donations and owning a children’s home in Harare named Hossana Children’s Home.

They also adopted another home in Hurungwe, Mashonaland West.

For Carrie, one of the leaders, the support for the Chitungwiza project has been a turning point as it has shown capacity to be sustainable.

“Actually we have many charity works that we did, but most of our charity work is just simply giving,” she told Review & Mail recently.

“However, we had wanted to do some more and to help them (beneficiaries) to be self-reliant and productive,” she said.

 “This project in Chitungwiza is the most successful and I feel very excited.

“We also sponsor some other charity organisations in Zimbabwe and this is just one of them but it is the only one project realising more production. The last time we visited the project, they told me that the boys care very much about this project very much.

“We can see their seriousness and responsibility because they are not just ordinary kids but they are boys and girls that come from the lower levels of society. So right now they are very serious about this project.

“We feel that all of our donations and charity work have a good return here that’s why we feel very happy and very excited.

The success of the project has prompted Carrie to find the market for the produce, bringing in more Chinese people to do more for Zimbabwean people.

“The project is very successful and if they have more contact with Chinese restaurants, Chinese supermarkets, it will help them to sell,” she said.

“So starting with this project, we can plan to make it even bigger and provide training to more youths.”

Carrie revealed that as part of their charity work, Loving Mums had sent two Zimbabwean youths for training in agriculture in China.

“We want them to come back and do some projects,” she explained.

She hopes that with the success in Chitungwiza, more projects could be inspired.

“We used to go to Hurungwe and did some horticulture projects but it’s not working very well for all sorts of reasons,” said she.

“Also in Hatcliffe, they did some but not very productive. We also bought some goats, chickens, rabbits and fish, all of these we tried with our Hatcliffe children’s home but frankly speaking, they have not worked. We hope that they can get inspiration from the guys in Chitungwiza.”

Meanwhile, at the weekend, the Chinese Loving Mum Team made donations of winter clothes and foodstuffs in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East.

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