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Social Justice

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December 2018

 

Themba lami: My hope
Cynthia Eaton

 

  ZimKids Skype session between Eastern students and ZimKids orphans
 
SCCC Eastern students engaged in a lively Q&A Skype session with orphans in Zimbabwe on November 14 as part of an FA/student collaboration to increase awareness of social justice issues. (photo by Cynthia Eaton)
   

I am surrounded by people who feel that politics in our country is getting bad. Real bad. They express frustration and disappointment, despair and depression, anger and rage. They believe that the current political system is really at the worst it possibly could be and point to each political scandal du jour as evidence.

I know where they're coming from. But I also know that when life begins looking bleak, it can be valuable to take a wider perspective on one's situation.

The view from Zimbabwe

Consider the fact that on Transparency International's 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index, the most widely used measure of corruption worldwide, the United States ranked 16 out of 180 countries in perceived level of public sector corruption versus Zimbabwe, which was ranked 157 of 180 countries.

My friend Tinashe Basa can tell you all about the impact of corruption in Zimbabwe. As a native Zimbabwean and director of ZimKids Orphan Trust, he sees it all around him—and he's well aware of how much less corrupt the United States government is compared with most regions of the world. In Zimbabwe they cannot take any public service for granted: not the postal service, not healthcare or medicine, not personal safety, not support for anything close to gainful employment, etc.

It's largely because of governmental corruption that Tinashe came to the Eastern Campus on November 14 to educate our students and do a little fundraising for his worthy organization.

FA/ACE host ZimKids

Each year the FA teams up with a student club called Activist Coalition at Eastern (ACE) to host a visit by Tinashe and the founder of ZimKids Orphan Trust, Dennis Gaboury. The FA's social justice team, IDEA, believes it's critical for students to broaden their perspectives in terms of issues facing people across the globe.

Dennis Gaboury and Tinashe Basa of ZimKids  
Dennis Gaboury, left, is founder of ZimKids Orphan Trust, and Tinashe Basa, right, is the director of this educational center for orphans in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe—one of the poorest nations on Earth. (photo by Cynthia Eaton)
 
   

Thus, Dennis and Tinashe discuss their work in running an educational center in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, for ophans that provides educational opportunities (tutoring, reading, computer training, early childhood education), skills training (welding, gardening, sewing, construction, carpentry), medical care, food, and recreation (sports plus chess, dance, choir, art, performing arts).

They also set up a Skype session so that our students can engage in a lively question-and-answer session with the children at ZimKids, which is always the highlight of Dennis and Tinashe's visit. This is ZimKids' fourth visit to SCCC; you can read previous articles about their visits here:

One thing we learned this year is that there was no word for "orphan" until relatively recently in Zimbabwe because strong kinship ties meant that any children who lost one or both parents would have their grandparents, aunts and uncles or other relatives to care for them. With the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaging sub-Saharan Africa since the 1980s, however, the word "orphan" has come into use.

Themba lami

We also learned themba lami. Translated as "my hope," Tinashe used the phrase as the title of his hot new single "Themba Lami" which is dedicated to all of the supporters of ZimKids Orphan trust and features many of the ZimKids in the video. The dedication reads

This song is dedicated to all of our ZimKids at Zimkids Orphan Trust and to everyone who supports us and works to give us a better place. You are our pillars of hope and strength. And may we all make the world a better place. This is for you.

It's another example of Tinashe's tenacity (read "The school dropout who built his own computer" in Zimbabwe's The Sunday News), as he taught himself how to play the guitar, how to sing and how to produce music on a laptop.

  Tinashe in SCCC tee shirt
 
Tinashe Basa mixes music at Tizzie Studios in Zimbabwe while sporting one of his favorite tees from SCCC! (photo courtesy Tinashe Basa)
   

The hope of ZimKids is not so different from the hope we have about the state of our government. While an increasing number of Americans (a clear majority) indicated that they felt worse about government corruption in 2017 compared with 2016, 74 per cent also said that they believe everyday individuals can make a difference in the fight against corruption, with voting being the most powerful means by which to do so.

So "my hope" is that more Americans who feel disaffected with the state of things in our government can not only keep a broader perspective in mind but also be like Tinashe and rely on individual and collective action to make things better.

Now, go listen to some upbeat, heartwarming music and follow/friend Tinashe on Instagram and Facebook. He loves to hear from SCCC faculty, staff and students. He'd love to visit the Grant and Ammerman Campuses again next year and, in the meantime, if you'd like to set up an individual Skype session between your students and ZimKids, let him know!

Such global connections and perspectives make us all more hopeful.