The Chronicle

Audlin Matsika

The tendency by many is to take for granted the basic right of every child to access education. 

It should never be a privilege to access education but a right, but what that happens when that person responsible for taking a child through school is suddenly taken away from mother Earth? 

It is a question no one is ever comfortable to answer or talk about. Once a child is orphaned, hope and dreams of achieving his/her aspirations become distant.

Kenyan philosopher and clergy, Mbiti once said, “I am because we are, since we are, therefore I am”. This Ubuntu philosophy entails that everyone should be their brother’s keeper. An African child is everyone’s child. However, because of the hustle and bustle of the everyday life, people have now become individualistic and the Ubuntu perspective that has thus far shaped African philosophy is deeply waning. 

Nevertheless, the Zimbabwe National Army is one of the few organisations still trying hard to preserve the essence of Ubuntu through charity initiatives that have come to the rescue of some orphaned members of the society. Indeed, a stitch in time saves nine. 

Norest Isaac and Godknows Mwanza had their hopes shattered and saw their dreams fading away after the passing on of their parents, who were soldiers in the Zimbabwe National Army. The Organisation, however, made a timely intervention by coming to their rescue through the Directorate of Army Social Services and today, they tell stories of the Army’s benevolence and goodwill.

Young Isaac and Mwanza both applied for educational support which they received through the ZNA Widows and Orphans’ Benevolent Fund. This fund was established to assist dependants of deceased ZNA members. It is through this Fund that Mwanza and Isaac can testify to the goodness of a charitable deed that was thrown their way by the ZNA.

For Isaac, growing up as a visually impaired person took a considerable toll on his life, and losing a father, who was the breadwinner in his family, seemed like the last nail on the coffin. His father, Jonah Isaac was a member of the ZNA, who at the time of his death, was serving under 1 Presidential Guard Battalion.

Isaac reached out for the assistance from the Army which he got through the ZNA Widows and Orphans Benevolent Fund in 2010. The assistance took him through his O and A-Level studies, where he was the only student with 15 points at his school and won the Vice Chancellor’s Tuition Scholarship from the University of Zimbabwe to study law. The scholarship only covered tuition and residence. Unfortunately, his mother was sick and could not provide for the family and she eventually passed on. The assistance from the Army did not stop despite the University scholarship. He received a laptop from the Army and being visually impaired, it helped him in writing assignments and reading, using the screen reader software. Isaac also received groceries and toiletries from the fund. 

“My academic journey was fine because of the assistance I got from the Army and the scholarship from the University of Zimbabwe. The scholarship from the UZ came as an added advantage as the Army could still have assisted me. During my attachments, the Army helped me with transport to and from work,” he said.

Isaac eventually graduated in 2018 and as fate could have it, he was offered a job with the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. Isaac highlighted that he wanted to make a contribution to the betterment of society on two fronts;

“Firstly, as a person who benefited from the ZNA as part of society, I will also give back to society in return. I want to work on eradicating the marginalisation of people living with disabilities, so that we can have an inclusive integration. I also want to assist the mainstream society, because I believe they are in need of assistance even from a person living with a disability like me,” he said.

Mwanza, on the other hand, lost his father, who was also a member of the Zimbabwe National Army in 2000. Following advice from his uncle, Mwanza approached the Directorate of Social Welfare, which then started assisting him with tuition fees for his A-Levels and from the second year of his studies at the Great Zimbabwe University. He completed his degree programme in Politics and Public Administration at Great Zimbabwe University and will be graduating in October 2019. 

Mwanza is grateful to the ZNA and has pledged to pay back through making significant contributions to society. “I plan to give back to the society by being a public servant working for the people as I owe my success to the society,” he said.