Dzikwa Trust empowers vulnerable children through conservation

– It is a special environmental program on 60 hectares of degraded land leased from the City of Harare, we can call it permaculture, Seppo Ainamo, Founder and Trustee of Dzikwa said.

John Cassim

HARARE, ZIMBABWE – Dzikwa Trust, is empowering orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe, through conservation as it secures food security.

The 30-year-old organisation whose activities centre, is in Dzivarasekwa township of Harare, leased a 60 hectare of degraded council land in 2008, where at least 76 000 trees have been planted to date.

Children under the care of the trust, take part in the tree planting and learn, to understand the importance of trees and environmental conservation.

“It is a special environmental program on 60 hectares of degraded land leased from the City of Harare, we can call it permaculture as it has nurseries for tree planting and horticulture.

 “Animal husbandry, fish ponds, orchard, apiary and environmental education are some of the conservation activities at the plot,” Seppo Ainamo, Founder and Trustee of Dzikwa Trust, said during the 30th commemorations held in Dzivarasekwa recently.

According to Seppo, Dzikwa trust expanded the program to cover food security between 2018 and 2020 with the help of grants received through the Embassies of Australia and the Netherlands.

“We are cultivating maize on a 5-hectare portion together with members of the community members and this year the project aims at producing 30 tons of maize, we use food from the portion to feed hungry children from the community,” Seppo added.

Initially Dzikwa Trust was just feeding children under their care but with the outbreal of COVID-19, the Trust started accommodating children from the community.

“We have a kids centre here where our children get meals, but when COVID-19 came we ended up feeding up to 1000 children here. 320 are our own children and 680 are kids from the community,” Seppo explained.

In 2021 the kids centre prepared a total of 230 000 meals and cumulatively from the first day food was given, more than two million meals have been prepared.

To rehabilitate the forest Dzikwa Trust is working in collaboration with the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Agritex in the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture, Bindura University of Science Education as well as the City of Harare.

In terms of food security, Dzikwa Trust can boast of an annual production of 4000 broiler chicken, 1200 rabbits a variety of green vegetables in the greenhouse with a 5 KVA solar powered borehole.

Fruit trees and a honey project are some money-making initiatives that are sustaining Dzikwa Trust.

The story of Dzikwa Trust began in January 1993, when Seppo started paying school fees for one 8-year-old boy. 

This boy lived and went to school in Dzivarasekwa 20 km West of the capital city Harare. Soon all the township schools started proposing new cases for Seppo such that by 1996, Seppo supported 18 underprivileged children in Dzivarasekwa.  

The Founding Mother, Oili Wuolle, an experienced central banker from Finland, found herself in Zimbabwe in 1996, working for a regional capacity building institute (MEFMI), with its Secretariat based in Harare. Seppo and Oili became a team, sharing the same desire to help vulnerable children in Zimbabwe and to work as volunteers for their benefit and to date thousands of children have benefited having graduated with PHDs, Masters and Undergraduate degrees.

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