Zimbabwe: Jean Corrneck

Accomplishing anything substantial in Zimbabwe’s declining economy at the time was nearly impossible, but through prayer all is possible.

— Jean Corrneck

Jean Corrneck has spent most of her working life as a social worker and nurse. She specialized in psychiatry nursing. After retirement she dedicated her life towards creating a sanctuary of love and care for Zimbabwe’s orphaned and vulnerable children. She established the Mother of Peace Community which takes care of 170 children, from infants to school-going children. The children receive health care, social support, and are brought up in Zimbabwean culture and tradition. The orphanage also benefits members of the adjacent rural community through its farming and building activities.

Jean Corrneck attended mission schools in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces for her primary and high-school education. Thereafter she trained in general nursing and midwifery and took care of orphans in her own home. She later obtained a certificate in psychiatric nursing and a degree in social science in the UK. She returned to Zimbabwe in 1980. She worked in psychiatric clinics, conducted research and worked in government administration before retiring from the civil service in 1993. Jean recalls how the surroundings looked like before the children’s orphanage was built. It was a remote area with no basic amenities. “There was not even a passable road or bridge to the proposed site of the orphanage. It was unimaginable to think that a building would be constructed there,” she says adding, “There was no water supply close by, no ablution block or shops to buy food.” Nonetheless, a road was constructed and piping was laid to take water to the site. The first house was completed after several months. Almost immediately on completion, the department of social welfare brought five children to the orphanage. Jean quickly realized that she needed to employ some local women as caregivers for the children. Meanwhile more children were being brought to the orphanage. Her vision was to find a way to make the land productive for agriculture. Other challenges for Jean were to improve both the nutrition of the children and their basic health care. A lot of farming activities dominate the 255-hectare land and the food is used to feed the children. The orphanage also rears cattle, chickens, rabbits, ducks and turkeys, all for the upkeep of the children.

Mother of Peace Community