BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
Eunice Tava has built an illustrious livelihood through acting, but on the flipside of her stage work she is a philanthropist.
Tava has appeared in several theatre productions and films, and most recently she was part of Jah Prayzah’s video project, a four-part story titled Nhoroondo.
She has received numerous accolades during her close to two-decade career and has rubbed shoulders with the “Who is Who” of the Zimbabwean film acting sector, including Daniel Maphosa, Jasen Mphepho, Obrian Mudyiwenyama, Silvanos Mudzvova, Stanley Mambo and Cont Mhlanga.
Tava has staged 50 plays locally and has some of her work showcased on international platforms in east and southern Africa as well as in Europe.
As a film director, Tava has done productions on plays such as Election Day, Colours of Dreams, Diamonds in Son’s Grave, Narratives from the Dark and Blood Tongue.
She has featured in productions such as Studio 263, Subaru D, Salon.Com, Mirage, Chipo the Gift series, Sinners and The Story of Nehanda, among others.
However, Tava said she has so much to offer to society apart from acting, hence her decision to venture into charity work.
The actress is founder of Chedenga Foundation, a charity organisation that works to empower less privileged children and youths in fragile or conflict-affected settings.
“Chedenga Foundation’s vision is to have an empowered generation of the less-privileged children and we seek to inspire hope and contribute to humanitarian well-being by providing care and concern to the underprivileged and vulnerable through basic needs provisions and all entailed in nurturing,” Tava said.
“I registered the organisation in February 2020 after I had discovered that there was need to reach out to more children.
“I had been providing children living in the streets with tea for six years and one day I witnessed two teenagers, formerly from the streets die on the same day from suspected ‘mutoriro’ (crystal meth drug).
“I then realised giving them tea was not enough, there was need to focus on creating a sustainable future for them. I then held individual discussions where I would identify areas of interest, hence the idea of Education and Career Mapping programme. They all agreed that education was the key to unlock opportunities that create a better and sustainable future.”
Tava said her acting vocation was not snooping into her philanthropic activities.
“I always adjust to accommodate these two, they complement each other. My humanitarian work is currently self-funded and it is the money that I get from my acting or artistic activities that has helped me to carry out programmes in my humanitarian journey so far although there are individuals who cheap in at times when there is urgent need,” she said.
“My biggest challenge is of a vehicle to use. The small personal vehicle I have cannot navigate through our damaged roads which then force me to hike public transport most of the time.
“My work involves a lot of travelling around Zimbabwe reaching out to the less privileged in remote areas too so sometimes I am unable to answer to the calls of need due to transport.”
Tava said just like any sector, her charity work was hamstrung by the Covid-19 lockdowns, which had ripple effects on her acting career, which is the biggest source of income for her philanthropic work.
“Despite the lockdown, we managed to get some children off the streets and reunited them with their relatives under our programme Children-Free-Streets,” she said.
“We offered food hampers to child-headed families in Harare and some rural areas under the programme A Meal a Day, which also provided less-privileged children get breakfast in the streets as well as my residence. We got kids in the streets get tested for Covid-19 and offered medical health assistance.
“We have been donating clothes to the less-privileged children and youth in Harare and across Zimbabwe under our programme Dress a Child Campaign. Our programme Education and Career Mapping benefitted children from the streets who are in boarding schools and are doing very well.”
She said 16 children from primary to tertiary education have benefitted from educational resources including fees and uniforms from the Education and Career Mapping.
“In June I hosted A Pair of Shoes and Socks campaign for children going to school barefooted and donated to rural schools in Mhondoro,” she said.
“I am appealing for land to build an orphanage to shelter 400 plus children. That’s my dream. Soon after lockdown, I’m going to be hosting fundraising events so I work towards achieving my dream.”
Tava thanked musician Vimbai Zimuto who responded to her call and donated a laptop to one of their children formerly from the streets who needed the gudget to use at school.
“I made a call on our Facebook page and Vimbai Zimuto responded, she got in touch and told me that she had bought it,” Tava said.
“At first, I thought it was just some talk then she flew into the country from Germany with the laptop while another well wisher sent some money to buy the satchel.”