(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!

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