Home > General > Tsitsi Masiyiwa, taking care of 40 000 orphans

Tsitsi Masiyiwa, taking care of 40 000 orphans


Reports show that there are currently around 140 million orphans in the world. With the current scourge of AIDS and now ebola, the numbers continue to increase. Africa does not offer social services and with a great number of these orphans being African, there is just no recourse for these children. Their only mistake was to be born poor and to have parents who passed. In the past, the extended family took care of orphans. In the Shona culture, a replacement mother was given to the children, usually an aunt on either the mothers side or the fathers side, Mainini or Maiguru. They became responsible for the welfare of these children.

We do not have to look very far, in our extended family to find child headed homes. With the current economic challenges, joblessness, families have become less forthcoming in taking care of orphans. It was unheard of for a ten year old to become responsible for siblings, but now it is now so common, people now turn a blind eye. The governments are doing nothing, the churches are doing very little, considering the extent of the problem. It now remains up to a few people to take on the burden.

If each family took responsibility for the orphans in their family, this problem would not exist. If the church took care of the orphans withing their reach, the problem would not be this far reaching. However, it is sad that we are getting more and more calloused, we are not moved by the plight of the orphans, not to mention the widows in our midst.

One couple that have stepped up and have been moved by the plight of orphans are Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa. These are the kind of numbers that are required for a problem that is of this magnitude. If more corporates, pastors, politicians and individuals took on such large numbers of orphans, we would soon make a dent at least within our borders. The resources are there, it is just the will and the desire to take on the challenge. What better way of investing into the future than changing the destiny of the downtrodden.

Not everyone can take on a thousand orphans, but even that one orphan, is a life changed. It may not involve adopting or taking them into your family. It may be paying school fees, which is usually the biggest challenge for orphans.

Below is the story of the Masiyiwa’s, how they started and how they are doing this great work. Be inspired!

source: Black like me

Morehouse trustee Strive Masiyiwa, and his wife Tsitsi Masiyiwa, run the Capernaum Trust which pays the school fees of over 40,000 students, orphaned and vulnerable, whom Tsitsi calls “History Makers”.  More than 3,000 of the “History Makers” are University students studying in the United States, South Africa and Australia.  The Masiyiwa’s actions are noble, but the path Strive and Tsitsi had to endure to get to that point is nothing short of miraculous.

In 1993 Strive Masiyiwa owned and operated a successful electrical contracting firm, Retrofit Engineering, that handled lucrative construction contracts for the government.  The ambitious Strive decided to establish Zimbabwe’s first independent mobile telecoms network to compete with the sole government-owned Post & Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) proved to be the moment that changed their lives.

Strive approached the Zimbabwean government to apply for a mobile operating license and expressed his interest in launching a substitute mobile telecommunications network, in return, the government threatened to prosecute him if he persued his plans and denied him a license.

Not to be intimidated, Strive took the government to court in a landmark case, seeking the rights to operate his mobile phone company and to challenge the government’s monopoly  on telecommunications in Zimbabwe.  It took five years for the case to reach the Supreme Court, which proved costly for Strive and his company Retrofit Engineering.

“Our problems began when we sued the government,” Masiyiwa recollects. “You cannot sue the government and think things will always be right.”

The Zimbabwean government, Retrofit’s biggest client,  severed all existing contracts and within a few short months Strive was selling off the company’s assets to finance his court battle to get Econet Wireless off the ground.

“So we were broke. In trying to understand what was going on around me, I began to do an intensive soul searching. Then I prayed to God and made a deal with him. I told God that if he granted us the license to operate the mobile phone company in Zimbabwe- and he made us successful, then I will help support as many poor people as possible for as long as I lived,” Tsitsi Masiyiwa recalls.

Still broke, Tsitsi Masiyiwa and her husband, took a step out on faith and registered teh Capernaum Trust, a charity the couple decided would give scholarships to needy children. Tsitsi admits that the move was unpractical at the time since they were broke “but as a Christian, you do unreasonable things.”

In December 1997, Econet Wireless won its case against the Zimbabwean government and launched its services in Zimbabwe in 1998.  Within a few months, Econet became the leading telecom company in Zimbabwe and in the last 15 years, the company has amassed some 10 million subscribers across Zimbabwe, Botswana, Burundi and Lesotho.  Strive Masiyiwa is now Zimbabwe’s richest man.

Tsitsi honored her promise to God.  “I gathered as many orphans as I could find from all over Zimbabwe and I threw a party for them,” Tsitsi says.

“I spent time with these children and I came to love them. I wanted to keep doing more for them, but I realized that it was not just enough to keep giving them fish. I had to teach them how to fish. I wanted them to grow up and fend for themselves and become successful people. I wanted them educated,” she says.

Strive and Tsitsi dug into their personal finances to fund scholarships that paid for school fees, school uniforms and stationary for orphaned and vulnerable children.

“Once an orphan comes on the program, he or she ceases to be an orphan because s/he now has a Father in heaven who empowers him/her to make history,” she says.

An amazing story of triumph, redemption and paying it forward.

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