Interview with Patrick Makokoro, Founder and Director of Nhaka Foundation
When was Nhaka Foundation formed and what led to the decision to start the organization?
Nhaka Foundation was formed in 2007 to provide access to education and healthcare for vulnerable children. At that time there were just a few organisations providing holistic support to orphans and vulnerable children. Nhaka Foundation came as a means to provide support to children in difficult situations in Zimbabwe through access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs. When we began operations in 2007 we started with a child sponsorship programme to subsidise school fees. We later incorporated other programs, which include access to health and nutrition for children in marginalised communities. Nhaka Foundation works within the community and in partnership to reconnect the traditional safety nets that have been eroded through the social and economic upheaval that Zimbabwe has experienced.
Who plays the leading role in this important work?
The day-to-day responsibilities of running the organisation lie with a dedicated board of trustees and a management team which comprises administration and programme staff. We also value the participation of the community as our key stakeholders in the areas we operate in, and without their ownership we would not achieve anything. We believe all children should have the resources they need to lead a healthy and fulfilled life.
What kind of programmes are you currently implementing?
Nhaka Foundation has graduated from just providing children with school fees to establishing community partnerships. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the community we identify primary schools that need assistance from the Early Childhood Development (EDC) perspective. Using EDC as an entry point into the community we then assist in renovating pre-school classroom blocks so that children can have safe learning environment. From there we are able to provide access to health, food and increased education. Under the ECD programme we implement teacher training, conduct health screenings in partnership with the Ministry of Health and we also have feeding programmes. To lower the costs in our programmes we engage volunteers to provide mentorship, support and guidance to the communities.
Please share some of your highlights
Nhaka is increasingly seen as a leading organization at national level driving the country’s ECD agenda forward. We recently championed the need to have a national network on early childhood development and this has resulted in the establishment of the Zimbabwe Network of ECD Actors (ZINECDA), which brings together ECD actors to influence policy and practice in ECD at a national level. We have also managed to send over 240 teachers for ECD training within the district of Goromonzi.
Through the ECD programme Nhaka Foundation now manages to provide daily meals to around 2920 children in the communities we operate in.
My biggest highlight, as the Nhaka Foundation director, is that we are working towards having a community taking full leadership and ownership of the programmes and responsibility in raising their children.