Our Story

How it all began...

Australians, Errol and Donna Spence founded VANA Ministries, in 2006.  It was at a conference that Donna Spence heard Marilyn Skinner from WATOTO (Uganda) speaking.  When Marilyn spoke about WATOTO’s vision of seeing “Watoto-style villages” all over Africa Donna knew immediately in her heart that this is what needed to happen in Zimbabwe.  That was the beginning of VANA Childcare Ministries.

Since those early days, VANA has been helping children break the poverty cycle through programs that offer:

Nutrition and clean water

Educational opportunities

Medical / Health care

Loving community / Family support

The organisation’s principal project has been the establishment of the VANA Centre in Chivhu, Zimbabwe, which provides housing and support for orphaned, and vulnerable children in the area.  The children live permanently in family-size homes (up to eight children per home) with loving mothers to care for them.

VANA also assists projects in Bulawayo (Harvest Family Village) and Chinhoyi (The Good Shepherd Centre).  For more about VANA Projects go to OUR PROJECTS.

The key role of VANA Australia is to help build a future for the children of Zimbabwe by raising awareness and funds for the various projects, as well as providing encouragement for the team in Zimbabwe in any way they can.

Our Projects

VANA is project-based and currently provides resources to three projects in Zimbabwe:

VANA Childcare Centre


Harvest Family Village


The Good Shepherd Centre


“Project-based” means that VANA serves the children’s needs by providing resources to larger projects aimed at breaking the poverty cycle. These projects are usually connected to a local church or ministry.

Here are some examples of the work being done in each project:

Education is the key to unlocking a country's potential for economic growth:

If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. This is equal to a 12% cut in global poverty.

One extra year of schooling increases an individual's earnings by up to 10%.

Wages, agricultural income and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty – are higher where women involved in agriculture receive a better education.

Each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.37%.

An increase of one standard deviation in student scores on international assessments of literacy and mathematics is associated with a 2% increase in annual GDP per capita growth.  (UNESCO)

Our Mission & Values

"Building a future for the children of Zimbabwe"

VANA exists for the children of Zimbabwe, especially orphaned and vulnerable children. We believe that every child has a God-given right to a future full of hope and possibility

Our Christian Identity: The love of God the Father and the mission of Jesus Christ is our motivation.

Relationships: We know the best outcomes are achieved in the context of relationship with like-minded people and organisations.

Life: We believe every life is valuable and children need to have the opportunity to live life to their maximum potential.

Integrity: We are each accountable for our actions, our honesty and doing the right thing

Empowerment: We choose to empower others to move towards their hopes and dreams, goals and objectives.

Courage: We have the audacity to think courageously and find new ways to get things done.

Our Christian Identity

VANA Ministries is a non-denominational, Christian organisation that serves suffering humanity because of our Biblical Christian worldview.

We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to reveal the loving heart of Father God – including the Father’s heart towards orphaned and vulnerable children.

Psalm 82:3 (NLT) - Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.

We believe that God’s Word (the Bible) tells of the responsibility of every Christ Follower to share the burden of those less fortunate.

Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Our Team

Errol and Donna Spence Founders

Errol and Donna Spence are the founders and heart of VANA Ministries. Errol is a board member and assists with the practical aspects of VANA, including finance and building needs in Zimbabwe. Donna is also a board member and is VANA's Relationship Manager. Along with their four sons they live on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Donna can be contacted as [email protected]

Peter Staines Chairman and CEO

Peter Staines is the Chairman and CEO of VANA Ministries. Peter has given leadership to VANA Ministries for over 5 years and brings to the team his experience in team leadership and making vision reality. For over 20 years Peter has been a senior pastor of local churches and now uses his skill to advance the work of VANA Ministries. Peter can be contacted at [email protected]

Marc Smith Board Treasurer

Marc Smith is an Executive Financial Planner with Westpac Private Bank in Brisbane. He has extensive experience in the financial services industry and is a Certified Financial Planner and holds a Diploma in Financial Planning, as well as a Bachelor of Economics degree. Marc's vast experience in the financial sector makes him a very valuable asset to VANA Ministries through his contribution as the Board Treasurer.

Olivia Burnett Board Member

VANA Ministries is proud to introduce Olivia Barnett, a young woman with a compassion and insight into the needs of others. Olivia offers her administration skills to the VANA Board, enhanced by her desire to see people; particularly children in Zimbabwe have opportunity to reach their potential. (Currently Olivia is studying at Bethel Ministry School in Redding California)

Tanya Smith Board Member

The VANA Board is privileged to have Tanya Smith join its team. Tanya has great insight into the needs of developing countries through her job which involves connecting volunteers to assist refugees establish themselves in Australia, and also through her first hand experience working alongside some of the world's most vulnerable children in such countries as Romania and Thailand. Tanya chooses to devote her life to empowering people to find purpose and destiny.

Jenyne Christie Child Sponsorship Coordinator

As VANA's Child Sponsorship Coordinator, Jenyne Christie combines her administrative skills and her love for children. When you receive communication from Jenyne about your sponsor child, you will immediately appreciate her passionate heart towards the work she does. Jenyne can be contacted at [email protected]

Merisa Wischnat VANA School Coordinator

Merisa Wischnat is our latest team member and is responsible for VANA's relationships with local schools. As the VANA School Coordinator, Merisa is using her profession as a teacher and her heart for children in Africa to assist school students make a difference in the world. Merisa can be contacted at [email protected]

Our Partners

About Us

VANA Childcare Ministries is proud to be a project partner with Global Development Group – the DFAT approved NGO responsible for approved aid and development project J710N.

VANA Childcare Ministries
ABN 75576738867

PO Box 342
Woombye Qld 4559 Australia

P: 1300 592 481

E: [email protected]

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Copyright © VANA Childcare Ministries 2014