Mbare is one of the oldest suburbs in Zimbabwe, situated in the capital city Harare. Mbare is a suburb that is rich with historical significance, being the first settlement to be built for migrant workers in what was then known as Rhodesia. Mbare is the center of many businesses such as Mbare Musika, a major farmers market, ‘Siyaso’ where various types of products are manufactured and sold, and ‘Mupedzanhamo’, a market that provides space for textile retailers. The Matapi Flats are one of the largest residential areas in Zimbabwe, often known for their overcrowded structures (more than five families can be housed in one room). Finally, Mbare also boasts the biggest bus terminus in Zimbabwe where buses provide transportation to locations within Zimbabwe and to neighboring countries such as Botswana.
Mbare is like a diamond in the rough, full of talent and potential, including doctors, scientists and artists who simply lack the access needed to showcase their work on a wider platform. Musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo and Hilton Mambo hail from Mbare as do many professional soccer teams. Although known for a high level of violence in the past, Mbare is now a peaceful community where residents are consciously responsive and eager to reform their lives. Mbare is known for its entrepreneurial nature, with the majority of residents being self-employed. While living from hand to mouth is difficult, especially in the current economic climate, residents of Mbare are a proud and resourceful people who simply need assistance in the fight against poverty, to ensure that they are able to take care of their loved ones as well as themselves.The health and social challenges in Mbare brought about by poverty and unemployment include teenage pregnancy and marriage, child abuse and substance abuse. I AM Mbare has a dedicated staff who oversee diverse projects with the aim of empowering the community. These projects include annual sporting events, annual clean-up campaigns, life skills trainings, free education for orphans and vulnerable children, and social awareness campaigns. I AM Mbare holds the needs and welfare of the elderly residents in the community in especially high regard and engages in frequent home visits and invitations for the elders to share the history of Mbare through storytelling.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at I AM Mbare engaged in a successful GoFundMe fundraising campaign, where money was raised to distribute food hampers to 1000 vulnerable families. As a team, I AM Mbare also distributed sanitizer and face masks as well as educating residents on COVID-19 awareness and prevention.