The Miracle Water Project is Complete!


We are so grateful to be writing to share that the “miracle” windmill was completed this weekend!  As we headed into the quarantine, in the new and absolute upside-down March reality , we reached out to ask you for help.  Some of you were so moved by our request and the timing was so perfect in your lives that you responded, right there in the midst of the chaos…and that was a miracle in my book! 

The impetus to even ask for donations of this magnitude right in the middle of the worldwide confusion, when people were frightened about their futures, was the foundation for our leap into this new way forward...and as it turns out, which we couldn’t have fully imagined at the time since we didn’t have a clue where this was all going, this windmill plus the power of the water and the marriage of that with the gardening efforts, is a substantial key to the entire “vulnerable intervention” piece of the CHANGE! Plan.

This will be clean, clear and abundant water for all activities at the Community Center, including the educational and gathering aspects of the space, as well as the permaculture efforts, and too, providing water for anyone in need to carry water home.  Schools will be reopening in Zimbabwe in about a month.  Our preschool is considered phase 5 of their reopening plan, so I’m not sure what that means, but it translates to yes, children will be back on the grounds this year. 

Here is the latest report from their government on reported cases, etc. It has increased since March but not radically. They are just heading into winter now.

This windmill pump moves the water from out of the bore hole (a well with pipe casing) and up into the large 5,000 liter tank on the stand, which then flows with gravity to the pipes buried underground to the faucet. Check out the lush vegetables...wow!

Trenches to Bury Pipes

The most touching piece of this story is that the first person to respond to our plea for assistance, was someone who just happened to walk into the 2012 Moscow Idaho Zimfest (check out 2020 offerings), out of nowhere, and with no personal relationship to this music that many of us love, study and play.  As a water geologist, she has a deep relationship to water, and so right away began helping us with well building that year and each year following, and then also joined in, assisting the preschool and other projects.  This particular time, when she tried to donate using the website, it just wouldn’t work right, so we talked on the phone instead, and that is where her real story emerged. 

She had been praying for a way to help the world as the Covid-19 situation erupted everywhere.  And then, there was our email the next morning, asking for just that - help with our bore hole!  The larger part of her story was that her husband, healing from a broken hip, was in rehabilitation and therefore lock down.  Even though there was only 1 case in the huge county (the size of Connecticut), the care center wasn’t taking any chances. Unfortunately, their phones weren’t working, nor their computers, so she was writing him a letter every day, and delivering it where the care center would keep it for 72 hours before he could read it.  They could see each other only through a small glass window.

That morning after donating to us, she went to deliver the daily letter, and they unexpectedly asked if she would like to see her husband!  The nurse let her in through a gate and wheeled him into the courtyard, where this elderly couple, caught in the middle of this Covid challenge, were reunited, sitting across the 6 feet span with tremendous gratitude, her on a bench, and he in his wheelchair.  Her life was touched by a miracle that day, just like ours, after being separated for so long.  The frosting on my cake was to hear that he was finally released about a month ago, being able to come home and do the physical therapy there, so they are living in a world full of great gratitude!

You know, they say everything is connected, and this lovely opportunity to see that up-close-and-personal in reality, was just what the doctor ordered.  It blessed my life and blessed hers.  And will continue to ripple goodness to all involved…it feels like the water itself is blessed!

We all want to thank you for your help with this critical resource. And, thank you in advance for whatever you do as we move forward, and however you do it...just telling our story is huge!

This is a sweet story in my book of "evolving on this path"…I continue to learn so much.  Thank you all for the many ways you influence me and are shaping the lives in rural Mhondoro, just because you care.

There are many pieces to this borehole and windmill…one is the pump.

The windmill stand was welded and installed.  It has to be strong and balanced.

There he is at the top making sure the windmill is all ready to go!

And here, the miracle in action! (I think we are over hearing a lady or three, relaxing, sipping on a soda while they watch the unfolding ;*)))

Thank you immensely for your continued support and compassion for our Zimbabwean neighbors.  We, as a collective of concerned people, are making a dent in what would otherwise be further challenges in daily life there.  Your generosity is touching many many people! Tatenda Chaizvo!



CHANGE! is HAPPENING!

We are so very excited to share tremendous news.  Our Nhimbe for Progress team has achieved one of the key goals of CHANGE! (Covid-19 Health Advocacy Network Growing Education!)…

They organized the educational event to teach about Covid-19, distributing masks and soap this week to the Nhimbe villages!  How exciting is that?

I know I sound like a mother at the soccer field and the kid just made the goal, but really after you have been there and walked a day in the Shona shoes, you get a great appreciation for all that it takes to do little things that we here take for granted. You know, you don’t just turn on the faucet to get water, or flip on the stove to cook.  Each moment of every day gives additional tasks to complete to be able to do the basics, reducing the overall time available to do other things to improve one’s life.  Plus, they are still in a major lock-down mode!

This whole thing just moves me so deeply…we, as Ancient Ways the organization, have always been speaking to well-being as the humanitarian ideal, and so do what is possible within that context, and within the funds that you, the donor, provide us.  But this latest change on our planet is reaching into another level of intervention…we are talking about life and death, how to affect limited critical resource availability and assist with resilience, the internalizing of hope, and dreaming up another future with options. Thank you for your part…my heart is finding healing in knowing you, standing with you, and reaching out.

Our team is amazing and they are becoming so skilled. Each time we make a plan, I’m so impressed and grateful for their ability to follow through and succeed in great measure.  I guess 20 years of working together really is creating a fairly seamless operation. And, as we tackle more serious and complicated projects, the collaboration results are getting more impactful.  We are all grateful…the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts!  I want to shout across the planet Makorokoto (Congratulations!) to them! Fine job! Most especially I want to acknowledge Patricia as the leader of the CHANGE! brigade…she continues to demonstrate excellent leadership skills and a profound tenacity to tackle big jobs!

PLEASE FOLLOW OUR LATEST PROGRESS BY CLICKING HERE.  You can return anytime by going to the main Covid-19 page and then, select any one of your favorite projects for a filtered view. (It is most accurate going to the google sheet from our webpage in each selected category, rather than switching worksheets from within google…otherwise the filters are not maintained by using the tabs at the bottom.)

The program went exceptionally well. The Chikara clinic representatives came to talk to the residents. Covid-19 booklets, written in Shona, were provided by the government and each household representative went home with their own copy.  They were very happy that we here in the US reached out into their lives with such care.

We didn’t know how much help they would have locally for the entire event, and so sent them everything we could in case Patricia was handling some of the hygiene aspects of the presentation.  She said that what we sent was the same as the clinic health team gave to the people. That was a real relief.

People were sitting down for the educational part of the event, and the social distance was maintained throughout.  We are so relieved.  Part of our concerns have been because the government there, at least on their website, is recommending just 1 meter distancing, whereas we here are following the 2 meter standard.  We emphasized to them that we must educate according to this 6’ standard to honor our financial support of this event. Cosmas has a satellite dish on their hut and so they watch BBC and really understand far more than the average person here, so had no problem agreeing with the plan.  I must say though, that I’m am quite amazed that they had such compliance with all of the villagers.  But this really speaks to the Shona nature as well.  They are very respectful of authority as part of their heritage.  Many of our ancestors came to this land from rebel stock to some degree, and so have a lot of independence running through our veins (no one is going to tell us what to do).

Everyone was so very happy to be able to receive the masks and soap. Each person was wearing a different type of cloth covering the nose and mouth. Sometimes a skirt, or t-shirt, or towel - all different types of masks that were worn.  They were not allowed to enter inside the gate without covering the nose and the mouth.

Before entering the Nhimbe grounds, everyone washed their hands using the chigubhu, pumping the water flow operation with a foot pedal, tipping the water container, with less hand involvement.  It was more of a token gesture since they didn’t take the 20 seconds or use soap.  But it was something.  And the clever use of the chigubhu was a good idea to teach people what they can make at home as well. 

After washing they stopped at the survey table where their name, village and registration number was recorded. We have been maintaining survey data since the first trip.  The goal was to get my brain around what our project was really looking at in terms of residents, their living conditions, and children we are serving, but it has continued to be a key way to monitor all resources and how they are flowing into the people’s lives.  Everything from huts, toilets, wells, fuel-efficient stoves, food during famine, children sponsored for education, and maturing girls, has been recorded based upon a registration number. And now soap and masks are added to the list.  237 people from 6 villages were given masks and soap, meaning some people were not in attendance, and we will need to talk over what to do next with that piece.

Do check out that windmill in the background! It is almost done and we should be able to share another bit about that story quite soon, like maybe even tomorrow!

They thanked us all – they know that everything that comes, only comes because of you, the donors!  I hope you go away with a huge smile on your face today!  I feel so blessed by your partnership in this work…you are truly incredible.  Tatenda Chaizvo! (We thank you very much!)

Thank you also for your donations in response to needing a mask for yourself, your family and your bandmates…that is taking on a life of its own. CLICK HERE FOR MASKS if you are interested. Thank you for your patience as we fill your orders!

Mask Tribe – Do you need one?

Please check out our African masks!

We are ready to help you move into the next phase of our evolution here in the states as you open your life to socializing more and summer.

For a donation to help Zimbabwe with their CHANGE! program (Covid-19 Health Advocacy Network Growing Education!) we are prepared to make and send you one or more African fabric masks...please CLICK HERE to check this out!

Big Trip to Town for Nhimbe!

Cosmas and Patricia went to the capital city, Harare, early in the morning on May 8th, to purchase materials for Nhimbe’s windmill and permaculture project. They carried their official letter that let them through the barricades, as the country is currently in Lockdown Level 2.

Level 2 means that big companies, like those focused on industrial and manufacturing, big garages, and food wholesalers, are all open. Fabric shops, clothing stores, small grocery, tuckshops, beer halls, and all informal markets are still closed. Soldiers and police are stationed at road blocks. People are being advised to stay at home and wear masks wherever they go, especially in public places. People are not allowed to go some places, if they do not have a mask.

Not only will this 5,000 litre tank hold plenty of water for drinking, cooking, washing and watering, but the miracle of it is how gravity feed actually can provide enough pressure for faucets, flush toilets and showers!  I visited someone in December who had set up a solar unit and tank for his elderly disabled parents, and they were stylin' with the upscale accommodations right there, just up the road from our Center. Obviously, that is not our priority at this point, but just an interesting side note to imagine, particularly for those of you who have stayed in rural areas without facilities.  We actually will be installing a faucet for ease of use.

Patricia tells us their story of getting into town through the controlled city traffic, and then walking into the store asking to buy a tank and a stand, but the shopkeeper apologized, saying that the store had only the tank, but not the stand.  After explaining that they had traveled all the way from Mhondoro, which is very far, the sales staff considered Cosmas' age (now a full-fledged senior citizen) and his traveling during this trying period of lock down.  The other store keeper said “let me talk to my boss, we have a tank stand already paid for by someone who is coming to collect it tomorrow”.   After some minutes he came back and said, “go ahead and pay for the tank stand and the tank!”  They managed to buy the pipes as well.  I like it that being an elder pays off!


Wow…what an incredible turn of events!  We are definitely feeling the full support of compassion both from that business, and from you making this a reality! We are so grateful for all of your help with this!

They had Cosmas’ son, Muda, along for the ride, both at the store and out in the rural area, as he helped with loading and offloading at the Community Center. We are always happy when he can be a member of the team.

It was a very busy day going around to different locations to look for a truck to carry these two rather big things! They are so very happy to have been so successful. 

It was really great to see some of the young fellows wearing masks! I'm always amazed at how many people here don't. Its like there are two tribes on earth right now...the mask people and the no-mask people.

Tatenda Chaizvo! (we thank you very much!)  This extraordinary collaboration between Zimbabwe and you, our donors, has always been a life-changing conversation, but now with Covid-19, the impact has been stepped up.  We so appreciate you!

Find our latest focus here for Covid-19 intervention strategies for Nhimbe as they go into the winter months!

Nhimbe’s Covid-19 Intervention!

We are happy to share that YES! we really are making progress, slow but sure, with a plan in place, money on its way, and the sun on the horizon. Please check out our basic approach. CHANGE! Covid-19 Health Advocacy Network Growing Education

Thank you for all of your support this year to help direct, activate and grow our mission to assist in Zimbabwe, both earlier in the year, to help us get out of the gate, and then as the year has progressed, even though your own lives have been topsy-turvy. What a miracle! What large hearts! What kindness!

Your support has encouraged me to have more faith in the tasks we have undertaken, with more hope for the future, and the needed tenacity to stay focused on the positive outcome, holding that as the only possibility.

Please do see what we are up to. We welcome your ideas (always feel free to call or write), your time (as a volunteer for example), and your contributions financially.

We Thank you very much! Tatenda Chaizvo!

(This was supposed to be) A Quick Update (but is now long) from our Nhimbe Team & Board of Directors

From the Nhimbe Team

Cosmas and Patricia went to town and hoped to buy some food for her shops.  Not only was there no one in the city center except police and soldiers, they were seriously and officially detained.  All shops were closed, no cars moving, all pavement was clear.  Even though she had her store license with her, and explained that people are dying of hunger, and they just wanted to get a few items, it was not satisfactory.  After thorough discussions, even police wanting to impound their car, an officer got in the back seat and accompanied them to the big wholesaler so they could buy a couple of staples, like flour and sugar.

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The streets were so empty they were even driving the opposite direction on a one-way.  Once at the regular wholesaling store, they weren’t allowed inside, but the items were brought out and they just put the purchase on her regular business account.  It seems that a turning point in the ordeal, was when they asked Cosmas how old he was.  The Shona are particularly respectful of their elders. The day was a bit more of an adventure than they planned!

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This chart is sent out daily on text messaging so every phone in Zimbabwe is in the know.  Small messages are also sent, for instance on Monday there was one telling of a person that had just returned from South Africa two weeks prior, who checked in at their local Rwizi clinic with symptoms.  They are being kept well informed.

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According to this plan, the 21-day lock down will be over on Sunday, and so another trip to the city is being anticipated for next week.  Not only is food needed for the local villagers, but also Western Union is expected to be open, so we can send much needed funds.

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From the Board

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We were able to meet on this last weekend over Zoom and face the solemnity of the situation together.  Not a normal board meeting at all.  Everyone stepping up and into their hearts with good faith for the future, was a useful approach.  Here is a quick report on our priorities once the funds are able to be moved across the planet with Western Union, reportedly opening three days a week:

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WINDMILL AT THE COMMUNITY CENTER - The windmill welding is being finished up and will be installed with all the pipes, once the lock down is lifted.  Thank you so much for your incredible support with this powerful intervention…clean water is one of the keys to immunity and so the timing of this is has been critical.

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WELL DEEPENING - Many people are unable to grow food and drink clean water because of an ongoing drought.  The rains did not fall during the recent summer months (they are now in autumn) and so harvests are scarce.  Last year was also short on rainfall.  This means that the wells, some of which were built just in 2018 and dug deep enough then, are now dry! 

The Muzambi Family pictured here has no water in their well.

She was our preschool teacher and librarian until she unexpectedly had a baby last year, taking her out of working. She is such a smart woman and has always helped immensely at the Center. He has been a carver for years selling us his crafts…maybe you recall the cheetahs?  They texted just to say hello and check-in, so as we were discussing how to stay safe, they explained that their well is dry and they have been going to the neighbors (often ¼ mile away) for quite some time to fetch water. Now, they are very worried, as they don’t know how the neighbors have been exposed.  So they keep their distance, bring the water back, and wash up with soap immediately.  I didn’t even think about that problem! 

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So well-deepening is a huge issue and we currently have 49 families with a dry well.  That is 49 families dealing with cross-contamination potential that we can curtail. Also, there are another 15 or so needing repairs, additionally taking about $600.  

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Well deepening costs 1/3 of a regular well, so if we redirect the $1,500 worth of funds that have come in this year to build new wells, we can cover almost half of the required funds. If you requested a well built this year, please let me know if you would object to us redirecting those funds.  If you are moved to help with this well deepening project, which is becoming one of our highest priorities now, everyone definitely appreciates the support!

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COMMUNITY CENTER GARDEN – As part of the drip-line training we studied in November, we expanded the garden area and are looking for big harvests from the space!  With the windmill being finished up, we only need 8 rows of drip-line to implement fully.  We estimate we can do this for under $900 buying a nice high-quality drip-line that will last, and a decent long hose to attach to the windmill faucet to making bucket-filling simple, reducing overall effort of maintaining this garden. 

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See the bright yellow bucket at the leftmost upper corner in the picture below…there will be 10 of those buckets that gravity fill the drip-line.  This permaculture system will provide plenty of fresh food for the area, and hopefully enough to sell in town as well.  It also feels great to know that people will be assured that the food is handled by non-infected gardeners, and everyone will be another step closer to safety. 

Here Mhandara Monthly Care Girls Get Involved!

COVID INTERVENTION – We have made a plan with Patricia, our co-captain there, to lead the Covid19 Health Advocacy Network Growing Education! (CHANGE!).  She is excited to be able to do something, rather than sit by and listen to the reports from the government repeatedly speaking of remodeling the hospitals to be used as isolation wards for the sick.  The constant barrage of media is just like here, and can be dis-empowering to have the details pumped into our brains.

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We have budgeted for only the next 6 months for this program, to be reevaluated at that point. This is a fairly inexpensive intervention considering the impact.  The largest piece truly is education of the estimated 400 families.  Currently they are going into the colder months (May starts cooling off and by June they wear hats and sweaters), and so the virus is being held at bay currently by the temps.  Our goal is to get in there ahead of any issues and immediately assist with education, mask making, and soap distribution.

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  • Their government appears to be doing a daily great job with education, so we are expecting to only supplement that with a leaflet, along with the distribution of masks and soap from our Community Center.  The police would potentially need to be involved to help people stand in line at appropriate distances, as they would be routed through the different gates at their assigned pickup time.  Printing costs seem minimal and with the masks and soap we can make this happen for around $1,600.  Any way that you are moved to get involved with the CHANGE! outreach, do please help us help them!
  • The mask making can all be done for under $350!  A mask is clearly to remind people not to touch their faces, as well as giving them fabric that is the highest quality cotton possible with an insert area for additional protection when desired, to make sure they understand the need. Women will receive patterns and can make by hand for their families, and other women with machines will be hired to sew for everyone. They also will want to understand about washing the mask after use.  Initially, the goal is one mask per family in all six villages, so whomever goes into public settings has one.  The women pictured below are the ones with major sewing skills who surfaced first. I was super surprised to see they already have begun meeting!
  • Helping to design the best pattern for the rural non-English speaking person with possibly little education is something I would appreciate help with…if you understand all the mask patterns you see online, and are willing to give me a hand in simplifying and putting it together, please call!  My sister has been making masks and it really just needs to formalized for Zimbabwe. We would make a short video to send as well. Thanks much!
  • Our intent is to give each family soap to last for 2 months, and then do that 3 times to get everyone through, until the hotter weather returns.  Our estimate is that $1,200 will accomplish this goal.  That is only $200 a month covering 400 families! Typically, soap is not culturally on the top of the grocery list, simply due to poverty.  If you are able to help with this, it is much appreciated!
The First CHANGE! Mask-Making Meeting Already Has Begun - 6' apart!

STAFF STIPENDS - We have put together a budget to pay the various people involved in Nhimbe from 50% to 100% of their compensation, for the rest of 2020, depending upon their part of the organization.  For instance, the guards, gardener and book keeper are continuing with full-time contributions. Many others are not expected to return to work right away, but we may need to reevaluate later in the year. 

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Considering current donation levels, the importance of the water and permaculture project, and our lack of fundraising normalcy with music venues and classes cancelled, we were limited in what we projected we could do.  But are so grateful to be able to offer the 50%!  I know some of you are continuing to pay your housekeeper, or hairdresser, even though you aren’t seeing them, which is incredibly thoughtful.  That is the ideal and I’m amazed at this kind of generosity. Many blessings your way for continuing your support of those in need in your immediate circle!

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Mhandara Monthly Care – MMC materials for 120 girls were purchased in March before the lock down, so funds have been set aside to make those items and deliver, as things settle in Zimbabwe.  We are hoping to reach out to the girls in readiness in a gradual way as things unfold.

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If we are unable to buy fabric at the stores and are forced to dip into some materials purchased for MMC for the masks, we could use the purse sewing kit fabric, and holder fabric, providing enough for each family to have one mask. The flannel is comparatively more of a loose weave so we will keep in MMC supplies. Next week will tell us more about the store openings.

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Tatenda Chaizvo!  Any way you are able to assist us is welcome. Your thoughts and heart-felt words are always appreciated! Donations can be sent by check, or using the website, just noting your focus in the description. Although not as convenient, sending a check means that the credit system (PayPal, etc.) doesn’t receive the 4% finance charge, so your donation goes further to the actual services we are providing on the ground.   

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Thank you for your continued interest in these particular neighbors and their lives, who continue to face similar difficulties to your own. 

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Those of you who have donated towards our efforts have given everyone here and there great encouragement for the long haul.  We understand that personal finances can be precarious for some.  Any and all ways you reach out make a huge difference.  Thank you for whatever you can do!

Latest News from Zimbabwe!


(This post went out last night but got buried in the Mailchimp post, so here I'm re-sending it.)

Like many of you, our Zimbabwean neighbors, although on the opposite side of our earth, are very much daily in our hearts and minds. 

Currently, the situation is much like Oregon with a limited number of Covid-19 cases, and governmental intervention to keep it that way.  Last week we heard they closed Western Union, as well as most all stores except large markets. Then also, the postal services from the US to Zimbabwe were ceased until at least the 19th of April, due to lack of flights.  This week we hear that banks, including Western Union, will reopen on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  But, to travel to town, a person would need to present a supporting letter from the police. Soon, we will know more. Everyone waits by their radios in the rural area to hear the news as it unfolds for each day.

This is harvest time and most people would normally have a good harvest but due to the drought, some farmers in the Nhimbe area, are reaping only 30-40 kgs of maize to use for their whole year. Four days ago the government announced a delivery from World Food Program to those who were eligible.  Those selected people receive 6 kg mealie meal (ground maize), ¾ litre cooking oil and 1.5 kg peas.  The food was distributed according to the number of people residing at the homestead. Not everyone is chosen and so, food continues to be a challenge.

Everyone is in a lock down mode with armed guards at the store next to our Community Center. Soldiers and police were deployed to keep people from gathering.  There are a few stores now open again, but little that one can buy because the shelves are empty, since wholesale shops have not reopened.  Generally, no one is allowed to be walking around, unless they are on their way to their fields.  City life is also restricted and most people are staying home.  Fortunately, they know to wear some form of mask on their face and have heard about washing hands with soap.  TV also is very informative for most in the city.

Here Patricia shares how she is using a scarf, as they don't yet have masks.
The US Team is also using masks!

We have been talking about the idea that wearing masks really help a person remember not to touch their face, and it really isn't full protective gear.  We are discussing how to implement a way to support the villagers in making masks.  My sister here, like many gifted seamstresses, are making masks and donating where there is a need.  She is helping us to describe an easy mask to sew, since she has made many and continues to make improvements.  There aren’t many ways for us to help them, but this seems like one possibility, although our team there and I haven’t sorted logistics.  Education is largely word of mouth in the rural area, but if you can’t gather and visit it changes everything.  One possibility is when the print shop reopens, a pattern could be printed with instructions on one side, and other educational information on the other.  We continue to wait upon the unfolding.

When I saw that stores were to be closing here, I asked Patricia to go out and buy 8 batches of MMC supplies. enough for 120 girls, so when the stores closed there, we would at least have our basic materials. No one knows the future, but we do know that girls don’t stop blossoming.  If stores are closed, we might borrow the MMC purse fabric we just purchased, and use for mask making, which would make approximately 200 masks.  Just a thought.

Thank you again for your interest and support, now more than ever!

We totally understand that some of you are facing very difficult family circumstances and financial hardship. We are holding you all in our thoughts and hearts, and we know we will get through this together!



Update on the Nhimbe Water Project!

Thanks to some incredibly generous hearts, we were able to begin the water project!

I realize that it may have seemed completely off the map to some, to be thinking about our Nhimbe work going on normally, with a lock down beginning here, but my heart required me to take a leap of faith. We knew that this was urgently the next step towards community health there, and so dove in with courage and hope. A few people heard our plea and have made the difference so we could begin. We can't thank you enough for that!

Nhimbe for Progress Community Center March 2020
Pipes, People and Penetrating the Earth

The Zimbabwe lock down started as we were mid-way done with the project.  The borehole was dug, and there was so much water, that it was recommended that we upgrade to a larger tank.  Our original estimate was for a 2,000 litre, but we are now purchasing a 5,000 litre tank. They hit water at 6 meters and then went ahead and dug the hole to 42 meters! Gratefully, the gravity feed system keeps water coming easily.  This project may go down in history!

Kicking up Some Serious Action Here

The second part, yet to implement, is building the tank stand and the windmill to pump the water into the tank, which acts as the cistern for the system.  A 50% deposit was placed before the lock down, so the windmill builder is busily welding away (not pictured here), with delivery expected around the 16th.  As soon as there is a slight change in movement, and we can send and retrieve funds using Western Union, the windmill will be put in place.  The wholesale food shops will also be reopening soon, so Patricia would be able to go and source food to sell in the rural area as well.

Thank you for your incredible help with this project!  It will serve the preschool, the MMC maturing girls' gatherings, as well as community meetings, when things return to the new normal. Actually, anyone who wants can come and get water, as there is plenty.  I’m so grateful to have this in place – the less pathogens ingested, the easier for the immune system to function!  Just perfect timing!

Bore Hole in Action
Cosmas Magaya, our Project Director in Zimbabwe, and cousin-brother, Simon Magaya

The other less obvious, but none-the-less powerful, benefit of installing this creative solution for clean water at the Center, is the fact that anyone who hears or sees the development, during this time of scarcity and fear, will find encouragement, that we have not forgotten them.  It’s like the hand of God reaches in and demonstrates a large positive manifestation, from out of nowhere, bringing comfort and hope, much like a miracle.  We are so deeply grateful for the invisible world that lives parallel to us, working in unison with us, and which also participates kindly in our evolution.

Additionally, this improved water availability marks our 20th year success with a major stride towards sustainability.  The potential of this expanded garden area (10 beds total - more reports on that later), particularly with the purchase of more drip lines (please feel encouraged to donate towards this effort!), means that not only is garden production increased more easily, making food more readily available to the preschool children, but also raising enough produce to sell becomes a reality on the horizon. That kind of income stream could grow and become foundational. Cosmas and I are always looking for ways to make Nhimbe for Progress more self-sufficient. Thank you for helping with this particular type of infusion towards our succession planning!  What a gift to so touch so many people!

We can see the evolution of the garden beds!...this is about half the beds showing!

Corona Virus Effect on our Mission

Exhaling is possible, but doesn’t feel real once we do.  Sometimes we get an absurd flash that we are living through a science fiction novel…and then realize that yes, we are. It is surreal at times.

It’s taking a preponderance of thoughtful daily contemplation to consider that everything changes, we can count on that, and we will get through this together.  The balancing act is retaining buoyancy while also being prudent…being optimistic while also being conservative…and above all, recalling our humanity, particularly at one of “those moments” when things feel like they are melting, and imagining that good will come out of this.  So often in a crisis we can’t conceive of any value in the process, but we are learning an immense amount!

We hope you are all well and happy and taking care of each other.  Online platforms allowing us to check in with each other are incredibly supportive to everyone…families, employment, counseling, students and teachers. If you ever want to visit, please let me know as we use Zoom regularly, and I’m happy to chat!

We were right in the middle of transacting a solution for the well at the Nhimbe Community Center when all of this really broke on the news here. The tests we were doing there, had revealed that the pathogen load including e. coli was high, and although no one had gotten ill, it was all feeling too vulnerable with the number of people using the well, and its propensity to get contaminated from "normal" use. 

We received a quote for $4,200 usd and were prepared to ask for your assistance with this special project to serve the Community Center, as the basis of the preschool and MMC maturing girls program, as well as general meeting use.  This will be a closed water system, which will not only allow the cleanest water to be made available, but also will be expected to have more volume for watering, and the new drip system gardens can be irrigated with greater ease.  All of this means a more sustainable operation in the long run, and not so dependent upon us as the only source of help. This economic shift in the world has really highlighted the need for a self-sufficiency.

As I watched the stock market changing, and the virus wreaking havoc, I knew that it was unlikely that many people would be thinking about Zimbabwe…after all, even getting our own neck of the woods in order feels chaotic.  Maybe there are some of you that are still tuned into our neighbors in Zimbabwe, and not feeling the economic situation here as challenging.  For anyone who is in a position to help us in the well project, please reply or call me at 541-259-HOPE.  I know the timing of this seems impossible for some.

Today, we just received word that the Zimbabwean government has closed the schools effective next Tuesday during this phase of the virus' growth.  Our team has opted to close the preschool Friday, tomorrow, rather than wait.  I knew that last week they were cancelling church gatherings, bira (ceremonies), and the like. We have been in serious discussions about how to proceed for a while, and for now, will watch and wait. 

  • First, we must be solvent and steady for the year ahead.  We really have not faced anything quite like this and so it’s hard to know how to proceed.  2008 was bad in all financial arenas, and this appears to be stocks rather than everything, with gold and silver not taking the hit, in the same way.  So, considering that most of our revenues are coming from donations, and many people may not be thinking about overseas, we need to be extremely frugal with the funds at hand.
  • The other piece is that our normal fundraising, like music classes, performances and selling village crafts, will not be income generating quite the same way.  We just cancelled our classes last week and began a volunteer online meeting as both a source of comfort, and potential place to connect for instructional videos and audios for practicing.  Also, we had an unprecedented number of performances scheduled for this year so far (11 in all, by the end of February!), which is also a key way for us to build community here, sharing the awareness of Zimbabwe, while raising money for the projects. 
  • Since the Nhimbe preschool etc. compensation will be paid through the end of the month, what would be best from that point forward? I’m sure their country will have some precedence to follow that will help direct us through this process in a good way.  Maybe helping the staff with a percentage of regular expected amounts? I’m hopeful guidance is forthcoming.`
  • We also were trying to figure out how we could continue to provide food to the preschoolers without endangering lives, since we have always been their best meal of the day.  There is no easy answer on any of this, as we don’t really have a grasp on how hygiene can be handled.
  • Young girls just keep maturing, and their lives are continuing to blossom. So, in this case too, can we purchase some fabrics now before everything is shut down completely, in advance of our normal batch protocol, and when everything is more settled, be able to continue low profile distribution?

I realize you don’t have all the answers, but if you want to chime in, please reply or call.  The way that many hands make light work, many minds make it manageable.  Thank you!

If you are in a position to help at this time with the well project, please let me know!  Both quality and quantity of water …I vote yes…anybody with me? We would need to raise $4,200.

Thank you for your time and consideration…if you made it to the end of this, thank you for that!

Jaiaen

2019 Visit to Zimbabwe Wrap-Up

Coming back to the states is always such a deep pleasure.  It’s not just your own bed and familiar comforts of home, but seriously, things like electricity, pure water, clean air, and garbage pickup, just as a start.  Good friends and family bring one’s cup to overflowing!

We just take so much for granted.  Traveling is a great way to wake up the psyche and take stock.  Each time I return through the US Customs I almost want to kiss the soil.  I know, we have our problems.  But we also have so many blessings.  I’ve taken to counting them.

I didn’t get to share too much of Carina’s film while there so wanted to give you some quick looks at our MMC camp in November, as well as the embroidery efforts, and a few preschool highlights.

We had a special Saturday meeting during their camp with a member of Parliament as an honored guest, as well as parents, local councilors and village headmen.  The girls presented a great show for a part of the two hours. 

Mhandara Monthly Care Girls Camp Dancing

Hanging around and playing marimba is a favorite past-time.  At the time of the camp, only a few of the girls had been able to take marimba lessons, although we are beginning to do regular classes now.

Just Learning this Marimba Song

The girls are always encouraged in public speaking. Here is one of our older MMC girls sharing.  In case the accent throws you, we are including our best understanding of her talk here:

 “MMC simply means Mhandara Monthly Care Program. This entails that there is caring and providing moral support of the girl child. It is Auntie Jaiaen’s wish to provide care and support for us. And we thank her for all of the supplies she gives us because our own parents are failing to provide those things. Without forgetting the Magaya family for their hand in this program.  I’ve learned a lot through the Magaya program.  I’ve learned how to cook, how to bath and how to behave like a girl child. My gratitude goes to Auntie Jaiaen and the MMC sisters for the everlasting support.  On behalf of my colleagues, I encourage you to continue coming each and every Friday learning more about life. With these few words I thank you for your attention.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ follow you for all the days of your life.  Thank you.”

Many Girls Presented During the Special 2 Hour Meeting

75 girls were able to receive their Start-up kits at this MMC Camp.  This includes 3 pair of underwear, a soaking bucket and bar of soap, put together by Patricia Magaya as our manager, as well as the reusable washable pads, which are put together by our MMC team in town

75 MMC Start-up Kits Distributed During the Camp

This video opens with a woman wearing a white shirt…that is our groundskeeper.  She manages the garden and orchard, and now the drip irrigation rows as well.  She is only in the kitchen because we are feeding 350 or so girls, so everyone moves around and gets involved however they are needed.  The gal in the Chevrolet t-shirt is our regular Nhimbe preschool head cook, also supervising the girls.  Everyone gets involved.  All girls are engaged in prep, cooking, serving, cleanup etc.  This was a particularly large meal since we had so many guests in attendance.

Food and Music....they always go together nicely!

We were happy to see them using plastic bags for gloves…YAY for hygiene!  That is probably the biggest concern with so many people all in one place with limited facilities.

How do you feed 350 girls from Friday through Sunday?

The children are so patient.  They really have a tolerance!

Rural Cafeteria?

First thing to note is that tradition calls one to use their fingers in Zimbabwe and having the utensils is a nice benefit, but not expected.  This is a custom, even if you can afford utensils, you may still opt to eat in the traditional way.

Long awaited lunchtime!

One really wonderful thing, is that you know that none of these girls wanting to play sports have to sit out due to their monthly cycle.  I mean, if they don’t feel well, then that is one thing, but they don’t need to worry that running and playing is going to be a problem.  They have supplies that work!

This beautiful blue ball is one we were able to bring from One World Play Project where we bought some at a discount. They are designed for rural African terrain. Everyone is delighted!

Team Sports

This is a close-by forested area that allows the girls to explore.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but imagine how it would be to never be allowed to go to the forest because it isn’t safe…so, with your buddies, it becomes manageable and even conquerable!

Hiking during Camp November 2019

You’ve noticed that music is the common thread, no matter what the story…the backdrop is the tunes and the rhythm and the song.  This little one is “all over it”.

Preschooler Attending MMC Camp

Camp finally comes to an end, and you would think they would be tired.  But so many are still movin’ and shakin’ to the next groove thing on their mind. 

End of MMC Camp - Strolling Home

The final frontier is sending off all of those that come from beyond our immediate area.  The truck has been hired to haul their gear back to the schools.  And, the teacher catches a ride!  This teacher from an outlying school happens to be the daughter, of Isaac, our Building Facilities manager who stays on top of well building and the like. Easily in her mid-40’s now, she always brings such an optimistic feel to whatever she does…and here she is after 3 days with all these girls!

The Final Frontier

Wini is one of the founding members of MMC. In the beginning, and regularly since then, she and I have spent months reviewing costs and fabrics and ideas to come up with a plan that is feasible to continue to implement. After all, Zimbabwean economy isn't what one would call stable. She has spent a couple of years working through the refining of details, and the economic changes, over Whatsapp to make sure we can actually do what we propose.  Her spirit is extraordinary, her work committed, and her heart genuine.

Winfilda Magaya and the MMC in her life

Other remarkable women are the embroidery crew.  This year we were only working with a dozen of them, since a larger group can get unwieldy.  Take a close up look at those details.  Thanks to the totes from the Amazon Smile Charity list that were donated, these women were able to sew some blocks on totes making incredible bags.  I know, everyone already has a lot of bags…but these are different!  And, another way to reach into the heart of Zimbabwe.

By the way, the two women that are being focused on in this excerpt are both absolute beginners. They have the least experience of anyone, and have only made one or two blocks.

Embroidery Women

Another item that was donated through Amazon Smile Charity lists are these raised surface cards.  We were able to bring 3 sets and the teachers love them….looks like they are catching on with the children too.  I think the youngest ones don’t have any idea which way is up.  Such a sensual way to approach learning, to feel your way to reading – makes so much more sense!

Preschool Alphabet Learning!

The children regularly are playing in various groups singing songs and making merry, getting all that coordination going.

Preschool Group Play

This call and response goes on for quite some time with more of more children getting involved.

Call and Response Preschool Game

These puzzles were donated originally by Sundborn Children’s House, who has been our partner in sponsoring this preschool since 2002.  Many thanks always to Karen Barton for blowing on the embers, Keith Barton for supporting the vision, and their Board of Directors for directing support to keep this all alive on behalf of children in Albany, Oregon, Mhondoro, Zimbabwe, and young ones everywhere!

Puzzle Play at the Nhimbe Preschool

The orchard and garden continue to bear fresh food to compliment whatever comes from town.  We work hard to provide a balanced and healthy meal…often the main meal of the day for these children. Although a small opening into their lives, this meal is a critical one, as most children this age are not receiving the kind of food that we provide, in their homes or at other preschools.

Quick Look at Lunch

The Nhimbe preschool playground did not exist before a Zimbabwean NGO found our preschool to be a model in Zimbabwe, and asked if they could build us a playground. We have maintained it and are very grateful for the donation! Everyone loves it!

Nhimbe Preschool Playground

Like usual, there is much to share, and little time to peek into another part of the planet.  Hope you have enjoyed this tiny open window into the latest of the hearts and lives of the rural Mhondoro Nhimbe for Progress community. 

Thank you! Your continued supports makes all of this possible!