In 2009 Batsiranai moved forward improving their business and the lives of their members. Batsiranai ended the year with 100 mother artisans. Of the 100 members, 35 are original founding members living and working in Dzivarasekwa Township and 65 are ancillary members residing in 4 townships surrounding Harare. Batsiranai has helped these 100 mothers in spite of the serious global recession. Advances were possible through the support of buyers from around the world, financial support from donors, and ongoing assistance from Batsiranai’s fiscal sponsor, One World Children’s Fund.
The Twin Doll campaign is the power behind Batsiranai success, allowing the mothers to earn a living and support their families through the heartwarming doll making campaign. Batsiranai sincerely thanks One World Children’s Fund staff, donors, volunteers, and buyers for their helping hands during these rough economic times.
The Batsiranai Dream
In April 2009 Batsiranai held a small focus group to discuss Batsiranai’s dreams.'It is now the year 2020 and Batsiranai is a business success. Please describe how a member’s life has improved.'The group’s voice rose in unison: “We each own a home! Our disabled children are educated and safe.”
The fervent hope of the Batsiranai membership is to create a secure future for the special needs children. The mothers are tenderly aware that when a mother of disabled child passes away, the survival of the child is at huge risk. Since the life expectancy in Zimbabwe is a mere 37 years, being orphaned is a frequent occurrence. Being an orphaned disabled child brings s additional hardships. Please review these statistics released by UNICEF about the current situation in Zimbabwe:
One in four children in Zimbabwe are orphaned and vulnerable. An estimated 1,3 million Zimbabwean children have no living parents.
About 100 000 of orphans live on their own live in child-headed households with no breadwinners, while others live with their extended families.
With over 2 000 HIV/Aids-related deaths every week, child rights experts warn the orphan crisis is far from over.
The mothers believe that special needs children with education and ownership of property have potential to survive. Without either, the chance of survival is unlikely. Secure housing and education is the main focus for Batsiranai. Through our fiscal sponsor, One World Children’s Fund, and the superb effort of Batsiranai volunteer Janis Stoner, in 2009 Batsiranai raised $10,000 in donation. The donations were donated as follows:
1. $4,500 was used for 25 mothers to be vested in Zimbabwe Government Housing Cooperative for Disabled Families. It is anticipated that by the end of 2010 the housing coop members will each receive title to a “stand” (small plot of land with improvements such as sewage and water). Each mother contributes to this program by paying a monthly fee of $25. The 25 members have been investing in this cooperative for 4 years. When the stands are made available, Batsiranai’s next activity will be to help the members build a simple 2 room “home” on of each of properties.
2. In addition, $200 each was distributed to 6 mothers who already held title to a stand. These 6 women made various improvements such as adding electricity, running water, and/or room additions.
3. $1,500 was spent for school fees. The following special needs children received 75% of their schools fees at St. Giles School for Gifted Disabled Children: Nyengatarai, Stanley, Ethel, Mutsa, Bridget, and Hazel. In addition 6 children received $50 each to assist with school fees at the local Dzivarasekwa Special Needs Government School: Edith, Neil, Biana, Emmanuel, Danie, and Edwin.
4. An additional $1,000 was used to assist with school fees for the first term of 2010.
5. Our remaining disabled children attended Batsiranai’s daycare and physical therapy centre where two mothers trained in pre-school and care of special needs children conducted programs for Batsiranai’s preschoolers and special needs children.
6.$1,000 was used to provide daily hot lunches at the Batsiranai Centre and nutritional supplements for the daycare centre children.
Batsiranai ended 2009 with a balanced budget, but without profit. The cost of supplies and materials has tripled in Zimbabwe with the country’s conversion from a Zim Dollar to a US dollar/South African Rand economy. Batsiranai elected to use profits from 2008 to make improvements to their business and assist individual members. $10,000 was used to
Host a Christmas lunch and party for the 100 Batsiranai mothers and their children residing in 5 townships around Harare: in addition each member receive a 13th month salary and a Christmas food basket.
Developed a new Batsiranai website, www.batsiranai.com
Designed and printed new product tags
Twin Doll Campaign
In 2005 in Adelaide Australia the Twin Doll Campaign was born. The Oxfam Trading Australia team, headed by Linda Chalmers, created the “buy two get one” doll campaign. Twelve twin dolls were designed by Batsiranai and marketed by Oxfam in their 23 stores.
For every doll sold in Australia a doll was given to a poor Zimbabwean child living in a family affected by HIV+. In 2007 Ten Thousand Villages joined the doll distribution campaign and this year Traidcraft UK joined the program. Batsiranai ended 2009 with big smiles and lots of dancing, having successfully distributed 35,000 dolls since 2006 to poor children who had never had a toy to call their own.
Distributing 35,000 dolls is a demanding undertaking in a country where petrol is in short supply and travel is difficult and restricted. In 2007 Batsiranai teamed up with the Johns Hopkins Zvitambo Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF) Campaign. The goal of the EBF program is to educate women throughout Zimbabwe that exclusively breastfeed babies lowers the transmission of HIV+ and decreases incident of diarrhea and infant mortality. Thousands of dolls traveled with the Zvitambo team over the last two years helping to get out information to rural woman and health care workers of this lifesaving intervention.
Beginning this year UNICEF’s HIV+ program will assist Batsiranai with the doll project. In March the dolls will begin to travel again and their first stops will be:
1) EGPAF (Elizabeth Glazer Paediatric AIDS Foundation). EGPAF is
establishing play centres for HIV+ mothers and HIV-exposed newborns; the dolls will be distributed to the Murehwa playcentre and the maternity ward on 30th of March.
2) Young People We Care (YPWC) – 15 NGO partners working with young people who provide big-brother/big-sister support to children. The dolls will be distributed to YPWC supported pre-schools in Hatcliffe Extension on 7th of April.
3) HOSPAZ (Hospice Association of Zimbabwe) and their network of home-based care members. Dolls will travel with hospice care providers to children in families, which are receiving hospice care for AIDS patients.
Advisor and Website Sales Manager
When Lynn Poole moved to Zimbabwe in 2001, she embraced the challenge and joined Bastian as their ex-pat advisor. The project grew from 14 families to its current size, employing 100 women. Lynn moved from Zimbabwe in 2008 but continues to work with Batsiranai mothers from her new home in Guatemala City where she enjoys her part-time position as a nurse in an ambulatory clinic.
“Internet and skype are fantastic tools for someone like me. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, through cyberspace I am still sitting side by side the Batsiranai women so dear to me.” In 2009 Lynn concentrated on expanding markets with wholesale buyers and developing a new Batsiranai website. Working with WFTO and promoting Fair Trade practices at Batsiranai was also her emphasis in 2009
In 2009, the Dalai Lama awarded Lynn the honor of an “Unsung Hero of Compassion” She was recognized for her tireless work with Batsiranai and represents the countless people in the world also helping others. Lynn states that "seeing the transformation of the mothers and the families" into "empowered, wise, strong, plump confident women with curious, happy, well-nourished children" is the most rewarding part of my work.
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