Mother Of Peace Community
It was set up in 1994 as a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It provides a home where orphans can be given shelter, education, and healthcare and are brought up in the security of a loving Christian family atmosphere.
The survival of Mother of Peace Community depends exclusively on donations from well-wishers and supporters from all over the world, and from their own self-reliance programmes such as farm produce.
With approximately 130 resident orphans to care for, in addition to providing on-going support for children who have been successfully reintegrated into their wider family group, MOPC needs substantial support to meet the running costs while it builds up its Income Generating Activities.
The Mother of Peace Community is situated 100 miles east of Harare, towards the border with Mozambique. There is fairly good tar road until you reach the settlement of Mutoko. A further three miles on a dirt road, which leads you through the bush and past a leprosy colony and you finally arrive at the MOP orphanage. The countryside becomes increasingly less fertile away from Harare due to low local rainfall and the landscape changes to one of rocky, boulder strewn mountains.
In 1989 a South African woman was inspired to promote the setting up of orphanages that would care for children who had been abandoned due to the AIDS pandemic. In 1993 five people from Harare took up the challenge to open an orphanage in Zimbabwe. The Government leased an area of land to them and the work was begun to clear the land for both accommodation and agriculture.
In 1994 the first children arrived. Many were referred but others arrived on their own or were brought by the police, well wishers or relatives. Increasingly babies were being found dumped. On arrival many are ill with malnutrition, chest and skin infections, diarrhoea and other symptoms of HIV infection.
In addition the children arrived very confused and frightened, disturbed by the experiences in their short lives, some displaying evidence of having also been physically and/or sexually abused.
The community tries to discover as much information as possible about each child received into its care, but often this is impossible. In such cases the child is named and given an approximate date of birth.
At Mother of Peace the children are cared for physically, emotionally and spiritually. Children often amaze us with their ability to ‘bounce back’ and it is incredible to see how quickly a child begins to thrive when nurtured in a warm and loving environment.
The community is run by Jean and Stella Cornneck, Zimbabwean sisters who both trained as nurses in the U.K. A central part of life in the community is the Roman Catholic Church, although people from any religion or philosophy are generously welcomed, there is a chapel on site, and services are held daily.
There is also a clinic, which opened in April 2001, consisting of a large treatment room, two eight bedded rooms, bathrooms and showers.
Board of Trustees was formed in December 2004 and a draft constitution drawn up. On 15th April the Mother of Peace Community became registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales as UK Charity number 1109058.
A retired English Community midwife, Christine Pratt, was passing through Mutoko in January 1999 with her youngest daughter, who was working in the area. A chance encounter in a local shop with another European introduced them to the Mother of Peace Community. In November of that year Christine returned for one of many visits she was to make in the coming years to offer her help and support.
By 1999 80 children were already accommodated at the orphanage. Work was continuing to clear the land for agricultural projects with the aim of taking the first steps towards a degree of self-sufficiency. At that time MOPC Mutoko was entirely reliant on a relatively small number of donors, mainly from within Zimbabwe itself.
With the AIDS pandemic devastating the population and an increasing number of the community’s donors leaving the country it soon became clear that funds would need to be raised elsewhere.
Through Christine’s passion and commitment she began to generate interest in the work of the orphanage in the locality of her home in Somerset, where she received unexpected levels of support.
Visits to the UK by Jean Corneck, Leader of the MOPC Mutoko, to describe the work at the orphanage have also inspired many people to help by making regular donations or by organising fund raising events.
Patron: Bill Nighy