Over the past decade 11 million children under the age of 15 living in sub-Saharan Africa have been robbed of one or both parents by HIV/AIDS. Seven years from now, the number is expected to have grown to 20 million. At that point, anywhere from 15 per cent to over 25 per cent of the children in a dozen sub-Saharan African countries will be orphans – the vast majority of them will have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS (UNICEF AFRICA’S ORPHANED GENERATIONS). Despite this gloomy background, they were few organisations doing anything to assist this situation in Zimbabwe. This sad sate of affairs guaranteed an orphaned generation of uneducated youth, unemployable and unguided in sub-Saharan Africa.
Running businesses in the same environment, Mr. Masiyiwa was not spared from the tragedies brought about by HIV/Aids. In 1990 Mr. Masiyiwa, ran a construction business and began losing staff to HIV/Aids and was left to fend for the staff’s orphaned children. Faced with such challenges, Mrs. Masiyiwa realized that for her to really understand the plight of orphaned children, she needed to spend time, “going where they were”, “eating what they ate”, “sleeping where they slept” and “listening to their stories”; .It is this effort invested into knowing orphaned children through visiting a children’s home in Gokwe that sparked the work Higherlife Foundation is doing today.
During her stay at this children’s home she discovered that a lot of the children in children’s home were abandoned in their infancy, most had never received visitors in their life at the home, they had the bare minimum for a meal and rarely had meat with their meals. They had no time to play and spent most of their time locked up. Many of these children also struggled with finding school fees and of those who went to school, they struggled to match the academic performance of children that came from two parent families. This experience brought to life Higherlife foundation.
Higherlife Foundation is a philanthropic organisation with a mission to provide a platform for people to fulfill their God given purpose. Founded in 1996 out of the personal convictions and heartfelt compassion of the patrons Mr. and Mrs. Masiyiwa, as well as their personal experiences of orphan hood, Higherlife foundation operated as Capernaum Trust, offering primary, secondary and University scholarships to orphaned and vulnerable children. Once a child became a Capernaum Scholarship beneficiary they stopped being called orphans and were affectionately known as History Makers. This new name would help transform their mindset to become young responsible leaders with a global mindset. We gladly testify that we are seeing this unfold in the children today, 20 years later.
Founded on Christian values and beliefs Higherlife foundation entrenched a spirit of prayer and a strong conviction that everything is possible through GOD in all its beneficiaries. This transformation of peoples’ Spirit, Body and Soul using the Word of God is important to the foundation and is at the core of its operations.
In 1998 Higherlife Foundation ventured into health and crisis relief through launching the National Health Care Trust following growing concerns about the state of Zimbabwe’s healthcare delivery system and the emergence of a health crisis worsened by an unprecedented cholera epidemic. That same year 200 scholarships we awarded to the junior doctors medical school to help beef up manpower which was desperately needed to improve Zimbabwe’s health situation.
Through years of successfully running the Capernaum Scholarship the Trust realized that there were also talented and gifted children, not orphaned or vulnerable, who were failing to reach their full potential due to lack of funding. This realization gave birth to the Joshua Nkomo Scholarship fund for the talented and gifted in 2005. The first group of scholarships were awarded in 2006 and 900 scholarships have been awarded to-date. 2006 also ushered in a new era of spirituality in the foundation when the Christian Community Partnership Trust was launched to help transform lives in local communities through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a bid to offer first class education to beneficiaries on the Joshua Nkoma scholarship the Waterford Kamhlaba scholarship was launched in 2008. This scholarship kicked off by taking 7 History makers to learn at the prestigious Waterford Kamhlaba College in Swaziland.
In the following couple of years lives were touched and communities were changed. However, this was not enough. In response to a rising HIV/Aids prevalence in Lesotho and growing civil unrest in Burundi Higherlife Foundation crossed Zimbabwean boarders and spread its footprint to Lesotho and Burundi in 2010. In the period 2010- 2014 the foundation really experienced exponential growth and milestones to note include:
- A $6.4 million investment was made to sponsor 40 international scholarships at Morehouse and Spelmen College in Atlanta, Georgia.
- The launch of 30 learning hubs equipped with state of the art computers and furniture, to-date.
- The birth of the Ruzivo learning platform, which is an online learning platform, which seeks to improve access to quality education through online technologies.
- The launch of a Technology hub and idea incubation center called Muzinda.
- Partnership with Econet Wireless to distribute vaccines in rural areas through The Energize The Chain initiative.
- Providing food, shelter and medical supplies to thousands of people displaced in the Tokwe Mukosi dam crisis.
- Drilling of community boreholes benefiting 35 000 people at inception.
- Facilitating mobile clinics that provided FREE access to health care for 8564 men, women and children.
In 2015, in a drive to streamline operations and maximize impact, Higherlife Foundation repositioned its self to focus on education. This led to the merging of all four Trusts into one foundation, a new and revamped Higherlife Foundation. With this new direction the foundation partnered with Yale University in a 1.6 million partnership, which will take 900 African students to Ivy League Universities in the United States of America and plans to impact 2 million children by 2020.
To-date more than 100 000 students have been assisted through the basic education scholarship and 4000 students have been assisted through the tertiary education scholarship.