Rural Zimbabwe faces a deep economic and social crisis. Illness and economic depression have taken the lives of many young parents and left households that are headed by siblings, some of whom are only children themselves. While community members provide what support they can to these children of families who have lost one or both parents, economic conditions do not allow community members to provide an education to these children who need every advantage an education can provide. Education, though comparatively inexpensive, is not free. The educational system is in large part supported through student and examination fees. Without these fees, an already strapped system cannot exist at all. Upon consultations with members of the Dewende-Africa community we were informed that the greatest of all the many needs of the community is for educating the children. Without that support children will not have the one thing that can radically alter their lives' circumstances.
Dewende's children value education. During visits to Zimbabwe, team members witnessed young children who reside in rural areas walking to school for miles. These children would begin walking at sunrise, this in order to get to classes on time. Despite their best efforts, some of the young people who complete high school classes do not end up graduating because of lack of examination fees (the amount that is required to sit for final examinations). Without these funds, the young person would have to repeat his/her senior year. Most do not have the wherewithal to do so and may be relegated to situations such as early marriage (for young girls) and an end to the dreams that an education can provide. Our current project is to assist as many orphaned or otherwise disadvantaged young people as possible to get the education for which they sacrifice so much.