Visit to Mother of Peace Childrens Home in Mutoko, Zimbabwe, March 2014

  I visited the Mother of Peace Children’s Home in Mutoko, Zimbabwe in February and March of this year. This was my third visit. The children are doing very well and we enjoyed interacting with them and the caregivers and staff. We visited the medical clinic and spoke at length with a nurse who grew up at the orphanage and who was mentored by the late Bob Scott, MD from the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA. Dr. Scott devoted his life to treating infants and children at the orphanage, and devastatingly poor men, women, and children from the surrounding Mutoko community, and died from a pulmonary embolism due to extensive international travel over an extended period of time. Bishop Yvette Flunder from City of Refuge Church and The Fellowship, said that our friend spent his life and in fact gave his life for this cause. I am pictured teaching art to children in the Early Child Development (ECD) classroom, ages 4 to 6. Some of the students were grades 1 through 4. There are separate schools for grades 5 through 7 (which we also visited) and high school. We started a new fund ($10,000 and growing with matching funds) to ensure that eligible children from Mother of Peace have opportunities to > attend college in Zimbabwe. One of the children left for college while we were there and will be studying Environmental Engineering. These are young people who lost their parents due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and who grew up at an orphanage where the death of infants and children was a weekly or monthly occurrence until antiretroviral therapy became more widely available. This was a very moving experience for me as, over the past several years, I have witnessed a shift from their struggling to keep infants and children alive to ensuring that young people can attend college and follow their dreams, and aspirations in life. Those with HIV now have access to step 1 and step 2 therapy but step 3 antiretroviral therapy is unavailable in Zimbabwe where unemployment runs at 80%. The elderly Zimbabwe women pictured sitting next to me is Mother Jean Corneck who, with her sister Stella, established the Mother of Peace Childrens Home more than 15 years ago, at a time when the average life expectancy of women in the general population of Zimbabwe was only 34 years and babies were being found alone in huts/homes where their mothers had died of AIDS. Mamma Jean, who is internationally known for her work, celebrated her 81st birthday while we were there. Dr. Joya Heart, a neonatal pediatrician from Oakland, CA, is pictured with a "fake" patient in the clinic. 

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