In the autumn of 2011, Thomas Nordberg and Anita Svendheim visited Zimbabwe for the first time. With little knowledge about the country, they were expecting to see hunger, poverty and devastation when they arrived – which is what is mostly reported on in the media. Some of these expectations were not wrong, but the secret of Zimbabwe is that there is so much more to the country than these sad stories. In Zimbabwe, they were met with so much joy and happiness wherever they went and they fell in love with the country.

Thomas and Anita visited many different orphanages, schools and clinics during their time in Zimbabwe, but it was one project in particular that stood out to them. In a small concrete house in Gweru’s biggest township Mkoba lived 17 boys sharing four bedrooms and 14 beds. All the children came from the streets and had been through more than any child should ever have to. Staying at the orphanage was, however, not a saddening experience. The house was full of life and warmth from early morning till the boys went to bed, and the children were full of joy, happiness and hope for the future. At the orphanage, six Zimbabweans were working every day without pay to take care of the children. They also ran a drop-in centre in town where the children that lived on the streets would get a warm meal, the chance to clean their clothes and to have a few hours to relax. Everyday was a struggle to make ends meet.

At the orphanage, the children did not have mattresses in their beds, the walls were dirty and the children were continuously sent home from school because they had not paid their fees that continued to increase. When it was time for Thomas and Anita to go back to Norway they realized that they could not go back home and forget about everything they had seen at the home and the children that had come to care about. They had seen how little was needed to make a difference in these children’s lives, and decided to create an organization to support their education. Three months later Midlands Children Hope Project was a reality.