THE ISHE ANESU PROJECT
History, Objectives & Needs
Ishe Anesu Project is located within the Hilltop United Methodist Church premises in Sakubva, Mutare, Zimbabwe. For years, Maria Sabino Humbane, its Director, had a vision to start this project but had no idea how to go about it and let alone the means. It was not until 1997 during her training as missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia that her mission began to take shape. She expressed her wish to work with underprivileged children in Africa and asked the GBGM to assign her to a community service for her missionary work. Thus, during her training at the Mission Resource Center in Atlanta, Maria found a place where she could work her project out as her internship with a group of children.
Upon completion of her missionary training, Maria returned to Zimbabwe. After discussing her vision with Bishop Christopher Jokomo, then bishop of the Zimbabwe Annual Conference, Maria was assigned to the Sakubva community to start her project. With the help of the Hilltop UMC, Maria identified 15 underprivileged children to start her project.
Ishe Anesu is an after-school project. Maria designed the project and defined its primary objective as follows: to provide education to the underprivileged children/orphans and the poorest of the poor. In order to achieve this objective, the project pays school fees and buys school uniforms, books and stationery for the children. Wearing school uniform is required.
In addition to paying school fees and buying uniforms, the project offers Christian education and values, social and family ethics and recreation. The project provides 2 meals a day. Minor injuries and illnesses requiring first-aid treatment are taken care of at the Project. The Project pays for doctor appointments and treatment of the children. Occasionally, the children enjoy extracurricular activities such as visits to the museums, animal game preserves, airport, food factories and other sightseeing areas.
The Project began its operation in July 1998 with 15 children aged between 7 and 12. Since then, it has grown to an enrollment of 60 children most of whom are orphans of a father or mother or both. Their guardians are too poor to send them to school. Those who try to send them to school find their financial means blocked and the child is expelled from school. The project identifies these children and reinstates them in their respective schools. Currently, the project has 23 students who have completed their primary school education and are now attending high school. Of these, 15 live in a United Methodist boarding school (Marange United Methodist High School). Many have been able to complete high school.
It is not the project's goal to send the students to college after they graduate from high school. However, it is our dream to send at least one student to Africa University to make history of Ishe Anesu Project. Preparation for vocational training is underway for those who may not be able to get jobs or those who may fail to complete their high school education. Basic skills such as carpentry, brick laying, blacksmith jobs, dressmaking, home economics, etc. The project does not intend to keep any student beyond the age of 18.
In addition to educating the children, the project has devised a program designed to empower the mothers of the Ishe Anesu children. The women come to the project to learn basic skills such as sewing, baking, knitting and cooking special meals. As a result of this training, the women are now able to bake bread for their families, sew uniforms and knit sweaters for their children. Sweaters are part of the school uniform. Prior to this training, the women used to send their children to school hungry because they could not afford to buy bread for their breakfast. They have also learned how to make soap, raise chickens, and gardening. While at the project, the women also cook meals for the children. These mothers, therefore, have become an asset to the project and with their skills they are able to help themselves.
THE WAY FORWARD
Needs: There is need to increase funding for the project's operation. Our immediate goal is to recruit 40 more students to reach our target enrollment of 100 students. The Ishe Anesu school building (built in 2001 with the help of Holston Conference) has enough space for that number. The need to recruit more students is not just to increase the volume of the student body, but to rescue more children who are forced to leave school simply because education has become too expensive for many families to afford to pay for their children. These expelled students find their way back on the streets where they are coerced into all kinds of illicit activities.
Along with the need to increase the enrollment at Ishe Anesu, the need for increased scholarships is also growing. Scholarships enable us to send our students to Marange High School a United Methodist mission school. Sending our students to Marange has many advantages, namely, that they continue to pursue their studies in a Christian school where they continue to practice their Christian education received at Ishe Anesu Project. The students are for the first time exposed to a highly conducive learning environment. They organize themselves into study groups, they have access to a good school library, they eat decent meals and their surrounding is well protected. In contrast, at home they are subjected to all kinds of house chores that absorb all their study time and this has contributed to low grades or even failures.
Due to inflationary economy in Zimbabwe, it is not possible to give a fixed amount necessary for a scholarship, but until now $300.00 for primary schools and $600.00 for secondary schools would take care of school fees, school uniforms, meals, medical aid, books, stationery and transportation. These figures are subject to change at any time of the year.
Funds should be placed in your church offering plate designated to Ishe Anesu - Annual Conference Mission Offering.
If you need more information please contact: Mike Sluder