Tinashe Basa calls himself an orphan ambassador, a title he always dreamt of growing underprivileged and poor.
It is his childhood struggles that led him to become an advocate for orphaned children and ultimately led him to Bulawayo’s Pumula North suburb at Zimkids Orphan Trust.
It was the nights without food, the struggles in his household, his lack of education that made Basa declare he would help those less-fortunate given the opportunity.
“I understand what orphans go through, and I can teach them, I can motivate them that no matter what you go through you can make it in life. So I’m there as the orphan’s ambassador, you know, to speak for them because I know what it is,” says Basa.
And with his dream and an opportunity advocating and nurturing a space to protect the rights of hundreds of orphaned children, Basa was selected to be among 60 young Zimbabweans to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
“When I got my final answer that I’m one of the 60, I got excited that I didn’t know what to do with myself, looking at my background and looking that I am one of those people who doesn’t have O’ Level and I’m making it in life. It’s really big for me.”
Basa spends his days with some 200 orphaned kids receiving assistance at Zimkids, a center founded by American sculptor Dennis Gaboury, who spent a year living in Bulawayo and sought to assist orphaned children in the city.
The center was built for children it served daily with food and shelter.
“We used to meet under a guava tree with the kids and they were sitting down making toys. And as it progressed we ended up having like 160 kids where we were giving food and we thought these kids, they needed more,” says Basa.
Nearly 25% of the children assisted at Zimkids are HIV positive, and the staff of former orphans and volunteers have continuously come together to expand programing and the complex.
The Zimkids center now includes an educational resource center with a clinic, library, computer center, sewing and welding training center, a pre-school, and garden, among other facilities for the children.
Basa says he expects this time in the United States to be another reflection that dreams do come true.
While in the U.S., Basa will spend his six weeks at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He will be focusing on civic leadership.