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!