Who We Are
The Zimbabwe Gecko Society is a non-profit organization based in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. The Society was founded in 2008 by Susan and Frank Janetti as a response to the horrendous circumstances facing orphaned children in Zimbabwe. After learning how young children were so hungry they dug up and ate earthworms, Susan and Frank knew they had to help the people of the country they once called home. The idea to start the Zimbabwe Gecko Society came about when Susan’s brother gifted her a wire-beaded-gecko from Zimbabwe. Traditionally, street children made and sold them in order to survive, but with the tourist trade in Zimbabwe now on the decline, this was no longer a feasible source of income. The gift was an inspiration for Susan to help the starving children in Zimbabwe. She gave her brother money so he could send her more geckos from Zimbabwe, with the idea that she would collect donations for them here in Canada. That money would then buy more geckos, thus providing the children a way to make enough money to buy food.
Thanks to the generosity of local residents and the tenacity of Susan and Frank, the project became a success. Susan and Frank were able to visit Zimbabwe many times taking donations of clothing and soccer balls, as well as monetary donations that helped purchase more gecko ornaments. From those humble beginnings the society grew exponentially, enabling us to support local grass-roots projects in Zimbabwe that aim to rebuild the devastated communities there in order to allow residents to support themselves, and we have now successfully started a number of our own projects. If you’d like to learn more about the programs we have started and those we support, scroll down or visit our Projects page.
In 2010 the Zimbabwe Gecko Society became a ministry of the EFCCM and is now a Registered Canadian Charity. Susan and Frank have truly made an enormous difference in the lives of those suffering in Zimbabwe, and are an inspiration to those who have met them.
Watch our most recent video about the projects we support:
How We Help
The Zimbabwe Gecko Society aims to break the cycle of poverty for people in Zimbabwe by building capacity in those communities. We focus on rebuilding one community at a time, employing the local people to build water wells for clean drinking water, building community spaces where children can attend school, teaching valuable skills such as sewing, farming, and raising livestock so residents can feed themselves. We are now partnering with Dr. Ray Markham who will start working with medical students and physicians both from Canada and Zimbabwe, providing training. By giving a community the tools it needs to support itself, we are providing long-term aid, and creating a safe and healthy environment that will allow for support of the most vulnerable members of the community.
To support our programs and those we work with in Zimbabwe, we raise money in Canada through annual fundraisers, by collecting monthly donations, and by receiving donations for handmade beaded ornaments. Susan and Frank work tirelessly to raise enough to keep the projects going and the money raised is taken to Zimbabwe where it is overseen and spent by Susan and Frank. These sustainable solutions include providing skills training and micro-loans, education for children, helping build community infrastructures such as schools and clinics from local renewable materials, and providing agriculture products such as pigs and chickens, which provide an immediate and long-term source of food and income. You can find out more about the projects we are currently supporting through the Projects page.
The Zimbabwe Gecko Society is a non-profit organization, and runs with the help of numerous volunteers. It is also a ministry of the EFCCM, which allows Susan and Frank to visit Zimbabwe a number of times every year to ensure first-hand that the money raised is being implemented in the most useful way possible. If you’d like to make a lasting contribution that will help end poverty in Zimbabwe, please visit our Donate page.
Who We Help
The Zimbabwe Gecko Society is dedicated to helping one community at a time in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was once known as the “bread-basket of Africa.” It produced enough agriculture to not only support itself but also export to other countries, had excellent government infrastructure, and an education and health-care system on par with the best in the world. Today Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in the world, has an average life expectancy of 45 years, and has the highest number of orphans per capita of any country in the world. Children go hungry as they have no-one to look after them as family structure collapses. Children remain uneducated as they can’t afford tuition fees, let alone the school supplies, textbooks, and uniforms necessary to go to school. With 95% unemployment and no infrastructure in place to help those in need, virtually everyone in Zimbabwe is destitute other than the very rich.
The Zimbabwe Gecko Society focuses on providing relief to widows and children in Zimbabwe, in an effort to break the cycle of poverty that has been established there. We do this mainly through support of local grass-roots programs as well as projects we have set up, that help to rebuild communities and teach the skills necessary for people to provide for themselves. By creating an environment that is healthy and safe, and providing some level of infrastructure, we are helping those in the greatest need as there will be a support system in place even when we are unable to visit and provide temporary relief.