Area residents will have the opportunity to admire and purchase toys and figurines made by Zimbabwean orphans tonight in Roxbury.
The Orphic Gallery will hold a reception and benefit from 5 to 7 p.m. in honor of Tinashe Basa, director of Zimkids Orphan Trust. The organization works to improve the lives of 200 orphans in Zimbabwe through the sale of the children’s homemade toys and dolls.
After seeing the harsh conditions in Zimbabwe, Dennis Gaboury, a Hobart resident and founder of Zimkids, became interested in the dolls and toys that the Zimbabwean orphans made from scraps and junk. He organized a toy-building competition with the children, which led to an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in London. Word spread to Gaboury’s friends and family in New York, and soon many people in the area were eager to get involved.
Gaboury said there were several local churches that gave financial support and helped raise awareness for the cause by providing a venue to feature the dolls.
“The birth of Zimkids actually happened in the Catskills,” Gaboury said. “They were the people who bought the first dolls. They were there from the beginning.”
Basa is 25 and runs Zimkids, which sells the orphans’ extra homemade toys and wire figures and uses 100 percent of the profit to better the children’s lives by providing food, school fees, clothing and medical supplies, as well as job training for the older children. The orphans, who make up the majority of Zimkids staff, are taught skills that help them become responsible and independent. The organization was recently able to build a greenhouse on site, where the children learn to grow their own vegetables.
With the help of a grant from the U.S. Embassy, Tinashe was able to visit the United States for the first time for a five-week fundraising tour across the country. Basa and Gaboury visited many schools and spoke about the work they are doing to improve children’s lives in Zimbabwe. Schoolchildren from New York to Alaska were treated to Skype video chats with the Zimkids in Zimbabwe.