DREAMS Project – Impacting lives of vulnerable children and youths in Chitungwiza
“Being in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages has enabled our organization to effectively carry out our mandate of promoting positive behavior change amongst children and youths through skills development & sustainable livelihoods”, says Mrs. Chikwanha, DREAMS Director.
DREAMS is one of the four Community Based Organizations that the Family Strengthening (FS) project has been working with since July 2020. The FS project which is being implemented in 9 out of 25 wards of Chitungwiza intends to ensure targeted children and young adults have access to quality education, curative and preventative health and youth employability support. To achieve its goal and ensure sustainability the project is working in partnership with community based structures (CBOs) who are capacitated in child protection and fundraising.
DREAMS CBO is operating in Chitungwiza covering matters of HIV/AIDS & youths empowerment. Before collaborating with SOS Children’s Villages, DREAMS had functional & financial challenges making it difficult to reach out to its target group. Through a capacity assessment conducted by SOS Children’s Villages at project commencement, DREAMS was supported in the areas of fundraising (including proposal writing), strengthening internal control systems, drilling and equipping of a solar powered borehole ,greenhouse construction as well as the start-up inputs for the greenhouse.
DREAMS engaged an Agronomist and planted 1,250 tomato plants on an area of 720m2 in the supported greenhouse in 2021. The greenhouse project provided a learning hub for the youths and caregivers in the project as well as the surrounding community through their participation in the management of the crop and trainings received. Forty-eight (48) young persons (13 Male: 35Female) were trained in smart farming on the green house. The skills gained by the beneficiaries increased their knowledge on farming and the labor market helping them to become self-employed. DREAMS also intends to link the beneficiaries to a local company that develops and markets seed, for input support so that they can start their own farming businesses independently.
In 2021, the CBO realized a gross income of USD $2,840.14 whilst USD $ 426.00 was channelled towards the needs of children while the rest of the income was ploughed back into the project to cater for the next crop. DREAMS managed to assist 155 children (58 Male : 97 Female). The funds were used to provide food packs for the vulnerable caregivers and children. The food packs that were distributed to each of the 155 children supported, comprised of 10kg mealie meal, 2 ltrs cooking oil, 1kg salt, 2kgs sugar, 2kgs rice, 2* 500g . The support also covered other dimensions such as school fees and clothing for the needy children.
The project has had a ripple effect benefit to surrounding communities through provision of fresh, nutritious vegetables and tomatoes and access to safe water for at least 60 families per day. The DREAMS greenhouse project has since diversified its crops and in addition to tomatoes is now focusing on red and yellow pepper, lettuce, onion and broccoli crops ensuring a well-balanced and nutritional diet for the beneficiaries and surrounding community. Currently, DREAMS is harvesting its second tomato crop and pepper. To date sales of USD $420 and USD $ 120 has been realized from the sale of tomatoes and pepper crops. The CBO is expecting sales of around USD $6,000 and USD $800 from the tomato and pepper crop respectively. The CBO through business and marketing trainings has managed to widen their market linkages and are now supplying local supermarkets retailers in addition to the nearby community. The DREAMS Director confirmed the positive relationship between efficiency and production.
The Greenhouse Project in Pictures
|Figure 2 and 3 – Greenhouse structure and solar powered borehole|
|Figure 4 and 5 – Land Preparation for the tomato crop in the greenhouse|
|Figure 5 and 6 – Ripening Tomato (left) and Peeper (right) plants|
|Figure 7: Nearby community accessing safe water from the borehole|