Last week, saw the start of our first productive work at Simukai. Some people wonder what is Simukai? What do they stand for? Why are they needed? These are many questions that I asked myself before the start of the cycle and my volunteer journey. Within the first week of visiting Simukai it suddenly became clear to me how special they are because of what they do. They make a stand for child rights, they protect and reunify children living on the streets and educate children on HIV and AIDS. For some children, without Simukai there would be no way out, no way to change their future, no way to lead a better life.

Energetic is definitely one word I would use to describe the street boys who come to the Simukai centre. I almost laughed writing that sentence because it is not even close to how active the boys are. These children lack the bare essentials of life but never fail to have a pristine smile on their faces. They get one meal a day and I’m pretty sure it’s already been burnt off within the first 20 minutes of it being digested. This is has surprised me the most while being here in Zimbabwe. The boys all carry a different story to tell and are unique in different ways. For example some of the children have a passion to learn, some are confident and outspoken, others enjoy being around you but take a more relaxed approach! 

Two of the major projects that took place last week were the clean-up campaign and replant of the herbal garden, both of which I previously had no experience with. The clean-up campaign consisted of all 14 volunteers (both national and UK) working side by side to effectively clean individual rooms and areas of the Simukai grounds. We gave Simukai a general uplift. We brightened the outside of the building with a lick of fresh paint and received help from one of the street boys who told us he would eventually like to have a career in decorating. The end of the day saw a lot of group commitment, collaboration and collectiveness as we appreciated the result of our efforts. 

On a very different scale we tackled the replant of the herbal garden. This has been my greatest achievement to date. With a group of 8 volunteers and 1 hour to spare we managed to replant the entirety of the garden. With 3 hoes (which are not the lightest or easiest equipment to use) we succeeded in levelling out the ground, removing most of the weeds and large rocks and we also dug numerous holes for the herbs to be placed. With the sun beating down on our backs, we were relieved when we had accomplished our goals and gained a great satisfaction in a bottle of water and a sit down. 

Written by ICS UK volunteer Chelsie Masterman