Through a partnership between the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe, child sponsorship opportunities in the African country are not only possible, but have made an impact through contributions to provide food, water and shelter for the country's children.
The Rev. Edward Matuvhunye, president of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ), told a group of people during his visit to the UCC headquarters in Cleveland that the key to making child sponsorship possible in Zimbabwe was the UCC and Linda Lawrence, the child sponsorship program manager for Wider Church Ministries.
The UCCZ was founded in 1893 by the American Board of Foreign Missions, a predecessor mission program of the UCC. Today, Matuvhunye said there are about 30,000 members of UCCZ nationally, and the church enjoys working relationships with other ecumenical partners.
The UCCZ is responsible for many schools and several health institutions in the country that focus on core values such as hard work and self-reliance to eradicate poverty and disease through training and community-based development.
Global Ministries, the combined ministry of the UCC's Wider Church Ministry and the Disciples of Christ, works closely with UCCZ by assisting children at the Daisy Dube Home and needy children who are members of local UCCZ churches. The home, named for a local woman known for her love and care of children, was founded in 1955 to care for orphaned and abandoned children, and has about 40 to 50 children living there who receive food and participate in active lifestyles.
"If they don't have access to food or aren't in good health, they won't do that," Matuvhunye said of being active. Children at the facility range from newborn infants to almost 18 years old. Lawrence said that all of the children in the Daisy Dube Home are supported through Global Ministries.
Zimbabwe is under international sanctions, so organizations from outside the country can face challenges when trying to offer financial support. But faith-based organizations can have a more direct impact with their contributions. For example, to gather clean water for medical clinics, UCCZ uses machinery provided by Global Ministries to drill for water, helping offset a 10- to 20-percent shortage in rainfall.
The country's economy has had its share of issues to overcome. "Zimbabwe is not able to extract and mine all of its resources — lead, or water," Matuvhunye said. "There is a high volume of diamonds, and this would add about $3 billion to the economy, but we are unable to do that [at this time]."
Global Ministries works with partner agencies to provide food, basic health care and clothing (and in some cases housing, school fees, uniforms, books, training and livelihood opportunities) to poor and impoverished children in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. UCCZ is one of Global Ministries' 15 international centers with about 900 children in the program. More than 3,000 poor and low-income children have been aided by sponsors and their gifts in the last 40 years.
The cost of sponsoring a child varies according to the services provided and the cost of living in each country. Sponsorship cost ranges from $25 to $30 monthly. Visit the Global Ministries website for more information.