This year the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak celebrated its 20th anniversary. The club was chartered in 1991 by a group of energetic and enthusiastic Rotarians, who over the years have supported many worthwhile projects.
Also celebrating an anniversary in 2011 was Daybreak’s major international project, Chiedza Child Care in Harare, Zimbabwe. Daybreak’s involvement with Chiedza began in 2003, when Rotarian Bev Stalling was invited to attend a meeting with the Board of Trustees and was approached by a fellow Rotarian and asked if Daybreak would support Chiedza.
Chiedza Child Care was founded by a group of concerned professional, academics and business people in response to escalating need to provide practical help for disadvantaged children.
The centre is located on five acres of land in Ardbennie Township. The centre runs a community based care programme for orphans and other vulnerable children, as well as their caregivers. The majority of these caregivers are extended families or step-parents, as well as older siblings caring for a number of brothers and sisters (child headed households).
Through Daybreak’s involvement, Chiedza has evolved from its humble beginnings providing care and education for about 60 orphaned children from a ramshackle old blue building, to the facilities that now support more than 750 children, education and training for 200 carers, poultry and rabbit breeding programs in multiple buildings, including a health clinic. Around 200 children a day come to Chiedza for after school activities, where each child receives a meal. These activities include sporting disciplines of netball, volleyball, soccer and basketball. To participate in these programs, each child must attend classes where issues around adolescence, sexual health, self-esteem and social responsibility are discussed and essays written to ensure participants understand what has been taught. Daybreak has funded these programs in the past, and recently the Australian Sports Outreach Program, through the Australian Embassy, has approved a Sport Development Grant. Another youth project Daybreak funded is the Rotary Youth Leadership Program, to foster better opportunities for young people.
Daybreak has tried to provide practical support in the form of funding sewing machines, rabbit breeding and poultry programs for the caregivers and youth to learn a skill and generate an income. Education is a high priority at Chiedza, which has a preschool for 40 children funded through UNICEF Australia, with Daybreak contributing books for their library. There is also a resource centre for after school tuition. Since the decline in the education system, there has been a dramatic drop in exam pass rates and access to textbooks. To meet this need, Daybreak funded computers and text books for the facility, resulting in an increase in pass rates.
To feed the increasing number of children attending the centre, a kitchen facility was built in partnership with the Australian Embassy and the Qantas Cabin Crew Team, with Daybreak funding the installation of the three-phase power cable and the numerous kitchen utensils.
During each visit Bev Stalling would deliver Daybreak’s donations of Panadol and medicines for the clinic, books for the preschool, much needed underwear for the girls, pens and pencils – all squeezed into a suitcase. This year saw the construction of the much needed sanitation facility. With over 300 children attending daily and 600 during school holidays, there was a need to increase the facilities. Once again, Daybreak partnered with UNICEF Australia and the Qantas Cabin Crew Team to build a new toilet block. Chiedza’s Chairman commented that it may not be the most glamorous project we have funded, but the most needed. So on 24 November, Chiedza celebrated its 10th anniversary. There was so much excitement and joy, with everyone dressed in their best clothes to celebrate this proud achievement.
It is crucial that communities such as Chiedza thrive and prosper, to not only provide vital services to their communities but also to demonstrate how a community can be set up and made successful and effective in areas of need. Daybreak hopes that it can share the journey into the future and see another 10 years and more for the Chiedza community.