The House of Smile is a welcoming structure in Zimbabwe, created by Cesvi in collaboration with OTB Foundation, for orphans and street children
years of Cesvi itervention in Zimbabwe, to support street children
street children and young people helped a day thanks to the House Of Smile
current number of orphans children in Zimbabwe, constantly rising
Cesvi is an Italian humanitarian organisation, founded in 1985. It operates worldwide to support the most vulnerable populations and to promote their human rights and achieve their ambitions, for sustainable development. Cesvi, along with the Houses of Smile protects the life and the health of poor children throughout the world with structures that offer help and refuge set up in six different countries. Poor and malnourished children are not a problem just for Africa, but for the whole world. They are the first innocent victims of economic imbalance between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. It is a stepping-stone from street life to family life. In collaboration with other stakeholders, the House of Smiles works closely with the Department of Child Welfare and Probation Services support the rights of the individual child that has to be protected. The drop-in center provides a safe and secure environment for thousands of children who can benefit from the program
Since 2004, the House of Smile in Zimbabwe has been a day drop-in center that has supported thousands of children and youths living/working on the streets of Harare since 2004. Thanks to the contribution of OTB Foundation, the House of Smile has increased its activities aiming at identifying and assisting new street arrivals, providing them with food, hygiene, primary health care, psychological support and education. The welcoming structure also works on tracing families and reunite them, wherever possible. Moreover, it supports with second chance education and skills training. The house also plays an important role in making the children aware of the risks of HIV and teaching them prevention techniques.
The problems of African children who end up living on the streets in extreme poverty, degradation and neglect is assuming dramatic proportions. AIDS and poverty are the main causes of this tragic situation. In Zimbabwe more than 1.6 million children are orphans and the number is constantly rising. Their parents die from Aids and they are left utterly alone with no other alternative than the street. The streets of Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, are the home of thousands of street children. Poverty and HIV have caused a worsening in living conditions, which is the basis of the phenomenon. But the street is a place of exploitation and violence, where children are constantly exposed to the risks of drugs and crime. These are the reasons why Cesvi has set up several “Houses of Smile” where abandoned or orphaned children can be taken in to a welcoming and peaceful setting
House Of Smile Director
"This job is a passion, seeing these guys on the streets carves the heart. They lack parental guidance, they cannot access to medical service, they do not have food, and they do not have a place where to sleep. I‘ve worked since 2001 in the House of Smile of Harare, Cesvi is the only organization that works with street people of Harare. We are here, they can trust us. Thanks to us children change, they become human beings. On the streets, they have behaviours that serve them to survive, thanks to our work they come back, to their childhood."
House Of Smile guest
“I have learned that labels can create and destroy you. That the stigma, the abuse, the treatment that people reserve to you is based on their perception of you. As a street child, it was hard to get a job for lack of trust. Since then I have been presenting myself at my best, to create an image that allows me to have a normal life. And I always try to be a positive example for other kids: the influence of those around you has a huge influence on the person you can be”. Darlington's story begins under unfortunate omens, but the child who is today a 27-year-old man fought the hardness of the road and came out on top. Returning from Botswana, he arrived at the House of Smile of Cesvi looking for support to go to school, and today he is studying Graphic Design at the Polytechnic College of Harare. In his spare time, he volunteers for many organizations that help street children, including Cesvi. "We all have before us a radiant destiny, which we must have the patience to await and the strength to realize."
House Of Smile's guest
“I have not met my mother, my father died of HIV in 2011. For 5 years I lived with my aunt without love and happiness; one day I stole 30 $ to buy some food at the supermarket. For fear of being severely punished, I ran away for the uncle’s house and lived in the Harare’s streets.” Said Ronald On the streets, Ronald gained some dollars washing cars, but during the nights, older guys stole all his money. To avoid feeling hungry, the guys sniff the glue, but Ronald refused to do it. He wanted to go back to school. “For me The House of Smile is my home, where I can have a shower, wash my clothes, eat a hot meal and start to study again."