Facing Hardships With Courage in Zimbabwe

By Chibweti Brendon Banda, Keith Mukombachoto, and Jeanel Zambe, Child Champions, Zimbabwe, as told to Bonnie Wellensiek, Child Champion, U.S.A.   |  Photos courtesy of Hope Centers

Poverty, inflation, and hunger in Zimbabwe can lead to fear and hopelessness in children. But Child Champions help kids living in poverty build their confidence so they can overcome their challenges.

Evans plays the guitar at his home.

Zimbabwe can be a hard and frightening place for a child growing up in poverty.

According to the World Bank, nearly half the population of Zimbabwe lives in extreme poverty.*

Soaring inflation and unemployment make daily life a struggle for many families.

Even access to clean water and basic housing can be a challenge.

But despite this reality, kids at Hope Centers have Child Champions and sponsors who help them build confidence and face challenges with courage. And that mindset can change their futures.

Birth of a Leader

Evans, who is 14, is a great example. He lives with his grandparents who eke out a living as street vendors on the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Evans’ Child Champions describe him as a leader among his peers and in his community. But it wasn’t always that way.

Child Champion Chibweti lets kids know that God loves them for who they are.

When he started attending the Hope Center eight years ago, Evans was shy and reluctant to speak or express himself.

The change began when his Child Champion, Chibweti, explained to Evans that God loves him regardless of how much money his family has or whether or not he has nice clothes.

He also spent time with Evans helping him learn about God’s love and teaching him how to play the guitar.

Evans heard the same message from his sponsor who wrote to him, telling him that God loves him and encouraging him to pursue his dreams.

Then Evans started attending Kids Clubs at the Hope Center and Dream Achievers meetings for youths, and he blossomed.

Evans studies at home.

In addition to playing the guitar, Evans also formed a dance group with his friends.

The boy who was once afraid to express himself now leads the group in performing break-dance routines.

His Child Champions say Evans now has a lot of confidence in himself, and he believes Jesus will help him accomplish his goals.

Evans also has the courage to dream big.

He says he wants to become both a doctor and a pastor because he wants to help others in his community who live in poverty.

The Courage to Stand for Truth

At another Hope Center, a girl named Progress found courage to overcome a hardship common to countless children around the world.

Progress wants to become a nurse in the future.

Like Evans, Progress is 14. She lives with her mother, two sisters, and a brother.

Life is hard for the family which depends on the sole income their mother makes as a vendor.

So, it was a blessing when Progress was enrolled at a local Hope Center operated by Celebration Church Zimbabwe when she was just 7.

Progress enjoys the activities at the Hope Center and playing with her friends.

But one of the most important things she has gained there is a sense of her own worth.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” says Progress.

When some of her classmates started saying hurtful things about her, that knowledge helped Progress realize that what they were saying wasn’t true.

Progress remembered that her Child Champions had told her she is unique and special, and she doesn’t have to listen to bad things others might say. Instead, she should remember what God says.

Doing so gave Progress the courage to stand up for herself against the bullies. Progress is not only brave but compassionate toward others. She wants to become a nurse to take care of the sick.

Maybe someday, as a nurse, Progress will share the lesson with a patient that her Child Champions shared with her: “You are unique and special.”

The Source of Courage

When Child Champions help kids like Evans and Progress build courage, they’re drawing on wells of courage that they, too, have gained through hardship.

Child Champion Tatenda helps a boy with his studies.

Tatenda is one such Child Champion.

Tatenda is a fulltime caregiver for her mother, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

She tends to all of her mother’s needs and prays fervently for her every day.

As any caregiver understands, caring for an ailing loved one is a high and hard calling.

For Tatenda it means toil, financial challenges, and lots of demands on her time.

But Tatenda says she knows God is in control, and she has surrendered all to Jesus.

Eyes on the Lord

On top of personal hardships, Tatenda and her mom live in Kwekwe, a community hard hit by poverty. The community struggles with HIV and is home to many widows and orphans. Kwekwe also faces an extremely high rate of unemployment.

No one would fault Tatenda for refusing to take on any additional responsibilities beyond her care for her mother.

However, Tatenda’s love for the Lord and for the kids of her community compels her to reach out to them and share the source of strength she has found in her own life.

Tatenda talks with a parents group.

That’s why Tatenda has volunteered as a Child Champion at the Emthonjeni Hope Center since 2021.

“I am a Child Champion because I love working with kids and teaching them Bible stories so that they come to Jesus at an early stage of their lives,” says Tatenda.

She also wants to see kids have access to an education.

Even with all she faces at home, Tatenda exudes confidence and a joyful spirit whenever she’s working with children at the Hope Center. And that spirit draws kids to her.

Child Champion Chibweti says the kids love to be around her, and they affectionately call her “Aunty Tatenda.”

Teaching by Example

When Child Champions like Chibweti and Tatenda urge children to have courage in the face of hardship, it’s more than just words.

The children can see that their Child Champions face hardships with courage that comes from faith. And that gives kids an example to follow.

Take a moment right now to pray that children in Zimbabwe and hard places around the world would be filled with courage through faith in God. 

*World Bank, Zimbabwe Economic Update, June 2021, pg ix. https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/563161623257944434/pdf/Overcoming-Economic-Challenges-Natural-Disasters-and-the-Pandemic-Social-and-Economic-Impacts.pdf


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