Chiredzi — STREET children menacing major towns and cities in Zimbabwe are set for a new lease of life after the transformation of one of the oldest refugee centres into a rehabilitation centre.
The move also brings to life the Chambuta refugee camp, situated in the southeastern Chiredzi in Masvingo Province, near Mozambique.
It has been underutilized since Mozambicans housed at the centre returned home after the end of a civil war in their country in 1992.
Chambuta currently caters for 22 youths but upon full utilisation, is set to accommodate 200 people.
Children will be taken off streets in the major towns and cities in the country and be rehabilited and trained in life supporting skills at the camp. It is estimated 5 000 children are working or living in the streets.
Renovation of the centre is underway following the recent visit by Zimbabwe's First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa pledged to donate goats to enable the home to be self reliant.
Chiredzi West Member of Parliament, Farai Musikavanhu, also pledged a donation of the animals.
Business and the donor community also pledged to assist.
Admire Emmanuel, Chiredzi District Social Welfare Officer, said Mnangagwa had toured the facility to assess how it could be recapitalised.
"She said the home must be upgraded from a vocational training centre to a national youth rehabilitation centre for street kids," Emmanuel said.
The once imposing refugee camp is currently in a dire state with most of its buildings dilapidating.
"My focus is that this home must not be left idle and dilapidating yet we have innocent souls roaming streets in our country," Mnangagwa said.
"I want this camp to be transformed into a national rehabilitation centre and help those kids on the streets to get life skills," she said.
Member of Parliament for Chiredzi East, Denford Masiya, also hailed the rehabilitation of the project and plans to reform the youths.
"It will go a long way to assist the youths. They are going to get life training skills that will help them in their lives," Masiya said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) built the camp in 1986 at the height of the Mozambican civil war.
Government's Department of Social Welfare took over the centre when the war ended.
It was used as a vocational training centre but the initiative folded after donor fatigue.