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McGees bid Zim children a ‘cuddle’ farewell
US Embassy - Harare • Zimbabwe website

Harare, June 17, 2009: Four hundred children in Harare celebrated the Day of the African Child with a smile when U.S. Ambassador James McGee and his wife, Shirley, donated teddy bears, pledging further United States support to children in Zimbabwe. 

“It’s people like you that continue to make me want to stay and work here in Zimbabwe. Your efforts are to be commended,” McGee told staff at Chiedza Child Care Center which caters for over 700 orphaned and vulnerable children in Ardbennie during a ceremony Wednesday.

“Zimbabwe is a very difficult place these days but because of the smiling faces of these children, it really is encouraging,” said McGee.

Teddy bears were donated to children at three centers around Harare: Chiedza (400 children), St. Alphonsus Pre-School (400) in Tafara and Faith Ministries Church (200) in Mbare. The teddy bears are hand-knitted by volunteers in the United States as part of the Mother Bear project, The teddy bears are hand-knitted by volunteers in the United States as part of the Mother Bear Project, a non- profit initiative dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations

Mrs. McGee told the children that teddy bears are a “symbol of comfort and hope.”

“As we commemorate the Day of the African Child, which is June 16, I would like to give each of you a token of American friendship,” said Mrs. McGee.

All three children’s centers that benefited from the donation receive support from the Children First Project administered by World Education and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It benefits over 33,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) throughout Zimbabwe.

The Ambassador pledged continued U.S. assistance to children in Zimbabwe.   “The United States is a friend of Zimbabwe. We will stand by you, and support you through these difficult days. And we’ll celebrate with you when the future once again is bright in Zimbabwe,” McGee told the children.

USAID is one of the biggest supporters of programs for orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

Susan Kajura, chief of party at Children First, said her organisation improves the lives of orphans and vulnerable children affected by and infected with HIV and AIDS by increasing OVC access to “a range of care services and by building the capacity of communities to provide these services through technical assistance and funding to local NGOs, community based organizations and faith-based organizations.”

World Education’s Children First Project has been in operation in Zimbabwe since early 2008. 

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