About Us : Our History
From a small office at number 37 Hillside Road to a bigger office supporting four other offices in the region is what describes the history of HelpAge Zimbabwe since 1989.
The idea to establish an organisation for the aged was muted in 1982 by Christopher Beer, soon after the first assembly on ageing in Vienna Australia. In that same year African delegates had a meeting in Kenya, were Zimbabwe was represented by Father Teddy Rogers. In Kenya, African delegates further cemented the idea that countries should form organisations focusing on ageing issues.
In 1986, the school of social work organised a workshop on ageing in Zimbabwe. The first Action Plan on Ageing was produced. The idea to begin an organisation focusing on ageing matters became fairly concrete. Christopher beer was behind the formation of the organisation, he romped in Cephas Msipa, Enock Dumbuchena and Teddy Rogers. Teddy Rogers was then asked to spearhead the formation of this organisation and put a board for the leg work.
The first board included the following, Cephas Msipa, Enock Dumbuchena, Teddy Rogers (Chaiperson), Rhoda Immerman (secretary to the board) and Canaan Dube. HelpAge Zimbabwe was then formed in 1988 and registered in 1989. The organisation started operating alongside HelpAge International’s refugee program. Then the organisation had no office, however Rhoda Immerman was responsible for all functions of the organisation. Then the organisation functioned as a conduit of funds channeled to old people’s homes by Help the Aged UK. Dete, Athol Evans, Ekhuphumuleni, Entembeni, S.O.D.A, Idawekwako and a few others were the beneficiaries of the funds.
In 1989 the board decided to employ its first office staff, Jaravaza Zephania, who occupied the position of Executive Officer operating from the Refugee programme office. In 1992 Dr Nhongo became the first Director of HelpAge Zimbabwe. He was not new to ageing matters as before then he was employed as Assistant Director of HelpAge International’s refugee programme.
The first office for HelpAge Zimbabwe was at number 37 Hillside Road. A small corner in a garage of a house owned by former regional representative for Africa Derick Ferguson was all that was needed to kick start business. Justin Fungulani was the third employee for the organisation who occupied the position of driver, followed by Martha who offered secretarial services. In 1993, the first fundraising officer (Rachael) was employed, and Dye was the first Administrator.
During that time offices moved in May 1992 to an office along Nelson Mandela corner 7th street until in January 1993 when it moved again to corner Blackstein street and Fife street. Mid year 1993, the organisation started buying a house in Hillside through mortgage. This was a tough but wise decision calculated against rentals on offer.
A Humber bicycle was the first asset for the organisation bought in 1992 and followed by a typewriter in that same year.
The organisation depended solely on fundraising, and three major types of fundraising were initiate:
- Direct mail: - writing letters sending to targeted people
- Letters of appeal:-writing appeal letters to individuals and companies
- Collection boxes: - boxes for collection of cash located throughout Zimbabwe.
In March 1992, the organisation had its first radio station on the then Radio 2 now Radio Zimbabwe. After the initial interview, television, newspapers and other radio stations began to take interest on ageing matters. To them it was like a new concept and a complete revolution. This publicity helped the organisation realise enough funds for core costs.
In April 1997, an office in Bulawayo was opened, by this time the organisation had 21 staff members in total, and supporting over 20 old people’s homes countrywide.