Chinese women’s group connects Zimbabwe, China with love

Tichaona Zindoga

A group of Chinese mothers is making a difference in Zimbabwe, deepening friendships with locals through love and care.

Known as the Chinese Loving Mum Team, the mothers are using their motherly instincts and care for family, children, the poor and disadvantaged to assist Zimbabwean families who are in need, providing them with necessities and bringing cheer in desperate moments.

Across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe – from rural communities to crowded “ghettos” in urban centres – the group has established a pattern of charity work that redefines relations between Zimbabwe and China, and bring out the softer and warmer side of Chinese people that has so far not been properly heralded.

In fact, many Chinese people prefer it that way: they say that they shouldn’t brag about doing acts of charity as it is against their culture, including the main precepts of Confucianism and Buddhism to which many subscribe.

In an interview last week, one of the founders of the charity, Carrie, explained the journey of the Chinese Loving Mum Team in Zimbabwe revealing some touch details of how Chinese mothers have been inspired by maternal instincts to help children and mothers of Zimbabwe.

At the same time, even Chinese men – equally moved by the plight of women and children – have also made contributions to make one of Zimbabwe’s biggest charity movements comprising of the Chinese community, businesspeople and philanthropists.

Some of the items donated by Chinese Loving Mum team

“The Chinese Loving Mum team was formed in 2014,” Carrie narrated. “Before that we had been engaged in charity work but without an organised body as individuals did their own things and each company did their own charity work.

“In 2014, my friend Penny came to me and said, ‘How about we institute a team so that we can organise donations from the Chinese community and help those vulnerable kids?’.”

Carrie agreed.

It was then that four ladies sat together and discussed how to set up the organisation which would be responsible for marshalling help for the vulnerable from the Chinese community.

“After we set up the Team we got lots of support from the Chinese Business Association,” she said.

The group has set out to assist vulnerable people in different settings including children’s homes, poor communities – such as those in informal settlements like Hatcliffe Extension in northern Harare – through provision of food and clothing.

The group has assisted orphanages across the country, including places such as Hurungwe and Bulawayo.

In Harare, Chinese Loving Mum Team built a new facility in Hatcliffe, and called it Hosanna Loving Africa Children’s Home, alongside a new primary school.

Carrie told us that Chinese mothers were showing their softer side in Zimbabwe.

Showing a softer side..Chinese Loving Mums in action

“Most of Chinese mums have a good heart,” she said. “Before we formed the Team most of them were helping the vulnerable kids in their own ways. We all want to help Zimbabwean children because our kids are in a better condition. They can go to private schools and live in better conditions, generally. We saw that for many local children, their conditions were not good and we resolved to spare something for them so they can have a better life. With our help, we have been able to change their lives.”

Some of the most life-changing examples of the intervention of the Chinese mothers’ group include their assistance of a visually impaired orphaned girl whose surgery funded by the organisation restored her sight and help her land a job as a cashier at a local fast food retail chain.

The girl’s name is Lizzy.

In another case, the Team assisted a 12-year-old girl – only identified as Memory – who had been impregnated to go back to school while nursing the child.

“Our mission is very simple. We want to assist people change their lives so that they can live better lives,” Carrie declared.

The Team is especially concerned with the problem of child marriages, which is rife in Zimbabwe.

Carrie attributed the scourge to vulnerability and poverty as girls’ needs are not adequately catered for by their parents leading to them being preyed upon by unscrupulous men. She recounted how she agonised over the case of Memory – a child who was forced to become a mother.

“She is still a child,” she mourned. “We can’t imagine how much she suffered in that condition, so we just reached out to help and assure her not to give up. Many mums felt life was unfair to her and wanted to help her.”

The philanthropic mothers have mobilised various goods to assist Memory.

Another one even wrote a letter to Memory, assuring her of their love and concern and encouraging her to fight for her life.

Carrie says a lot of things have to be done by Government and other stakeholders to improve the lives of women and girls as well as the general in Zimbabwe.

Some of her suggestions include that Government should invest in education, training and institute poverty-alleviation programmes.

Amid some poor perceptions about the relations between the two peoples of China and Zimbabwe, Carrie noted that there were some cultural barriers that had led to misunderstandings, often exaggerated on social media.

“There is some misunderstanding regarding Chinese people. Chinese people are naturally people who do not like to speak too much but to act. Further, in Zimbabwe many of them can’t speak English very well,” she explained.

She related how her colleague, Penny, initially did not want to have publicity around the charitable work, a stance that has somewhat changed although the Team still prefers no publicity. Other benefactors, including male businesspeople, have made several anonymous donations and others have annual budgets from their companies that they channel to Zimbabwean charity.

Carrie says she sees relations between the two peoples grow, on the basis of more understanding and finding commonalities.

“Many of my friends and I like the character of Zimbabwean people. They are open, warm-hearted, helpful, friendly, positive and optimistic. These are things we do not have ourselves…”

She urged people not to fall for prejudice and stereotypes, especially propagated on social media, to undermine relations between Chinese people and their Zimbabwean counterparts.

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