Recent News From Mhondoro!

It's with enormous gratitude and appreciation that I write with the latest about what is going on in Mhondoro.  Besides bringing an opportunity to share some historical context about Nhimbe for Progress, additionally, there are some lovely video updates towards the end.  Being able to write is sorely needed for me, in coming to terms with the miracle of life and death.

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Blogs “should” maybe be short, but, sometimes it’s not possible.

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With Cosmas’ passing and his family being tested, Covid-19 became a reality to his neighbors, both locally and for the entire region.  Likely, the first person any of us have known personally to have died from the virus, the impact has been great to our hearts and psyches.  Cosmas grew up in the Magaya village and herded cattle like other small boys.  Little did anyone know that he would evolve into such a beloved teacher and friend to so many around the world.

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Many articles have been written to commemorate his life.  The NY Times article is linked here. Although reading about his life in these various ways is helping with healing for us all, I continue to be a little miffed reading the articles because he is acknowledged as the Project Director of Nhimbe for Progress, but not the co-founder.  So here I am, just wanting to set that record straight…Cosmas Magaya and Jaiaen Beck joined together in a vision for this particular pragmatic elaboration of consciousness. 

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Yes, Ancient Ways as a non-profit was my vision and began 5 years earlier, but I had no premeditated inclination to ever go to Zimbabwe, Africa in general, nor to jump into humanitarian outreach in this fashion.  I knew I was feeling prompted to do something since childhood, but what exactly?

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When Cosmas and I met in ‘98 during his first trip to Eugene, he came to visit our community near Scio and we spent much of our time talking about his father (now late), a nganga or more commonly n’anga, which is an herbalist and spiritual healer.  I wasn’t one of Cosmas’ mbira students, but instead had this compulsion to study his father’s work. 

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His father Joshua, renowned in the region, and mother Matilda, both had enormous hearts, and handled everything that would arise with compassion, always looking for the high road in difficulties, as well as the most progressive and enlightened approaches to practical aspects of life, including being well-known for their farming.  It was the Light emanating from that relationship exploration that became an undeniable driving force in my life.

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During Paul Berliner’s Soul of Mbira tour in ‘99, Cosmas and I took our imaginings of a dream, and created a laundry list.  That day, surrounded by my first marimba teacher Maggie from Kutsinhira, and Marilyn and Mark, who are other members from the multi-faceted, devoted and affectionate Eugene music community organization, Cosmas and I defined our specifics. All of this impelled, compelled and propelled me to be on a plane 3 months later, on my first trip into the Zimbabwean veld, the savannah, the bush.

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That same day, as we were delving into what was possible, they received a phone call that Dumisani Maraire had passed on.  The imprint of that moment transferred all of the undefined passionate energy I had received from Dumi, as my first Zimbabwean teacher, into the as-yet unnamed project Cosmas and I were in the midst of birthing.  Cosmas was my co-conspirator, if you will, to change the face of rural Zimbabwe, alleviate the suffering, and create opportunity for another way forward through difficult times (kuenda mberi), and the Kutsinhira community became a mid-wife of sorts.

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It’s obvious to those on the inside of our larger Zimbabwean music community, that his 20 years of devotion and dedicated work to Nhimbe was not a light-weight endeavor.  Anyone who has visited Africa for any duration, or even camped anywhere for longer than a few days, understands how everything requires more effort to achieve basic results, since water and electricity flow are not easily available. Compound that with the politics of the day and you have a determined but careful leader, who was often found saying “We are winning!”.  

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Besides requiring incredible endurance and resilience, which appear to be innate Shona characteristics, the Large Love from Cosmas’ parents infused his life with a genuine capacity to not just find a way to dance with everyone he would meet, but also at every turn, he would highlight how we as communities need every diverse reflection of the Divine…all of us, even when we don’t like something we see in another, are each bringing out some aspect that contributes to the whole, with forgiveness and acceptance as huge gifts to evolve us through the challenges.

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It is with his hand at the plow, complemented by his dear wife, Patricia, that we have expanded over the years. Her energy exceeds no bounds and her administrative and management skills have been growing by leaps. The many enthusiastic and loyal family members, and Nhimbe staff, have created a strong fiber so that Nhimbe has evolved beyond a faithful and steadfast mushroom, into a native beauty with fervor and zeal, and which now belongs to the entire community from the elderly and children, all the way to the local politicians, and the Mhondoro member of Parliament.

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MHONDORO UPDATE

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This last week, the 18th to 20th of July, the member of Parliament who had attended the MMC (Mhandara Monthly Care) Camp during our 20th anniversary trip November 2019, organized 300 Covid-19 tests for Mhondoro, at Mudavanhu’s (Cosmas’ son) request.  Muda has taken on the role of family head there at this point, negotiating the terrain, filling some enormously large shoes. Because of those promptings, 56 of the tests were given at the Magaya homestead for the nearby neighbors, thereby including Nhimbe residents, with the remaining tests being given in surrounding villages to include multiple Chief’s regions.  This is an incredible awakening gift to the villagers considering the current lack of medical and insurance systems in Zimbabwe!

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We continue with our Nhimbe intervention, as we await the immediate family test results.  Patricia is staying in town during this isolation time, and so is guiding the efforts by cell phone calls and Whatsapp, reaching out to members of the Nhimbe community.  The following video, created by a neighboring villager coming to help out, shows our two guards, the preschool head and a teacher, harvesting rugare from the new garden.  The bounty is amazing!

Those identified as the elderly, plus pregnant and nursing women, are being given these beautiful bundles of greens, the most impactful vitamins and minerals available. And, this is winter! I can feel such a grateful reverence for this process.  It’s so very touching to see!

Patricia also reports that Isaac, who is in charge of the wells, has completed deepening another 2 wells.  We have finished 17, but have another 30 to go.  The drought has taken its toll on the water levels, so at times there is absolutely nothing there.  We had 48 to do, but one was dropped, so we only have 47.  They found out that there was plenty of water in the family's well, it was just that the rope on the bucket was quite a bit shorter back in 2010 when it was built, so they bought another rope and are happy campers!

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Thank you for all the ways you are helping us with these efforts.  Always feel free to reach out by phone or email – I appreciate the encouragement, and find comfort in being engaged by and responding to your inquiries.  Below are a few links to peruse further:

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Many blessings your way, with health, well being and safety for all of you and yours!  Tatenda Chaizvo!

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