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!

Update from Zimbabwe!

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 we know we will get through this together!

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!


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!

Its almost 2020!

Its with enormous gratitude that we write with a New Year's Eve Greeting!

Thank you for your kind and sustaining support over the years as we stay committed to our vision, our mission and our values. It takes all of us doing what we do, to make an ever-continuing dent in the work to be done.

When we look around our lives here in the states, there is plenty to accomplish as well. It just so happens that the door that opened for us, was to rural Zimbabwe. The key was the music and with that, the door flew wide open. And there were the people, right there in that opening. Just like you and me. Children just like yours and mine.

Please take a minute and consider how you are able to reach out to Zimbabwe through our portal this year. Many of you have generously extended yourselves in 2019, either with your pocketbook, or your time, or your prayers and words of encouragement.

If you haven't been able to contribute, or if you have donated but are able to again, please do so now. Time and money are both valuable ways to give. Continuing with our programs and services are vital to over a thousand people...and, you make the difference!

We know that each of you hold the key to keep this door open to rural Zimbabwe. Thank you for whatever you can do!

3rd Field Report Update from the Ground December 6, 2019

We all want to Thank You! Tatenda! for the magnificent gift of your attention to this small place on the globe, so far from you and your busy lives. If you draw a line through the earth it looks like its exactly on the other side of the world…this gives us pause. 

Still in our 20th anniversary year for Nhimbe, and 25th for Ancient Ways, we are only able to be here working together (nhimbe) for progress because of you!  It’s an amazing journey, which takes endurance, blameless courage, and deep love for humanity.

Please remember us, as you consider how to share your wealth in the world.  $10 here can make a difference!  $1,000 impacts many people, for the long term as well.  Whoever you are and whatever you can do, is felt, and the ripple is farther than you can imagine!  Please check out this year’s annual letter by going to the 2020 Focus on the website menu.

We are continuing to open our hearts and minds to the incredible opportunities here, to see how best to reach into their daily lives.  What is it that they really need today that will carry them the farthest with the most prosperity for health, wealth, and happiness?  Which resources are the key, besides education, which is fundamental, and not free here in Zimbabwe.

One addition to the prosperity here is the drip irrigation system, which is a continuing hit! They fill this bucket 6 days a week to manage the plantings. 

The covo cuttings we took from our established garden are actually doing okay, although you can’t see it well in this picture.  There was some damage during the MMC camp – we really didn’t think about the idea that the girls might not understand the special planting area.  But other than that, many of the starts are fine and taking root.  We can easily replant.  That training was so interesting and has long term positive results for all!

Click the arrow on the video to play Planting Covo Cuttings

The preschool just finished their year…please see the 3rd Field Report here for updates to many of the activities going on here in many of our programs!

Click the arrow above to view the video of preschool students receiving their graduation papers

Again, thank you in advance for any way you can contribute to these successful programs and services!

Diki Diki (little) Message from Zimbabwe!

Morning Greetings from the ground here…days are moving fast….we wake up in the morning to this!


Marimba lessons this week

A few of the girls had learned during our Youth Well Being marimba programs we had for years.  Now we are working with the MMC so many new girls are coming in.  This is their first lesson!

Click on the PLAY button on the video below to play the video of the girls playing marimba.

Embroidery continues … helping them with some close up readers makes it easier.  We have several lenses in inventory.  The women are so grateful!  The Dollar Store cashier in Lebanon always wonders what we are doing!

We held the Health Forums to share general hygiene, nutrition, and lifestyle ideas.  The attendance was lower than normal since this is spring time so as farmers without oxen their planting is labor intensive.  

Those who attended loved the discussions.  The highlight is always the Glogerm, which is a fluorescent powder simulating germs on handshaking.  They go under the black cloth with the fluorescent flashlight to see how germs are passed, and how well they wash.  Then they wash again with soap and check again!

Whitney shared all about cleaning water with Moringa seeds that is very dirty after storms.  The bottle of dirty water can be cleared up with crushed Moringa seeds!  It still needs solar disinfection afterwards.

Whitney and Standreck’s experiements are coming along.  This one is Whitney’s egg crate.  They have been breaking ground, direct seeding and doing starts to see how things work here, Whitney at our homestead and Standreck at his mom’s.

Thanksgiving Day preparations gave us a wonderful chicken and full complement of an Afro-American meal to celebrate.

They grow them big here!  

Well testing continues!  In general, the residents need to have well treatments and take more precautions on letting pathogens into their wells.  More on this in the next Field Report.

The money situation here is challenging.  The exchange at the bank has increased by 1 Zim bond since we got here 2 weeks ago.  In the  Villages we thought it had increased to 15:1 but in town a store told us it was 20:1...no wonder Zimbabwe is said to have the highest inflation rate in the world now.This pile of money is just under $500 USD to offer stipends to the volunteers for the work that keeps Nhimbe going.  It’s not a living wage by any means.  Cosmas can’t do anything but try to keep a sense of humor about it!

Good night from our front door to yours! 

Second Field Report From Zimbabwe

Greetings from the ground on the other side of the planet! With modern technology's help along with very good friends we are able to share our second week's story!

Thank you for tuning in! The 2nd Field Report is HERE. Please let us know what you think...either write gogreen@ancient-ways.org or use the Zimbabwe Whatsapp number on the back page to reach Jaiaen and the team!

First Field Report from Zimbabwe!

Greetings from the ground on the other side of the planet! With modern technology's help along with very good friends (like our accountant and wife who are letting me use their internet since we have had a few challenges), we are able to share our first week's story!

Thank you for tuning in! The Field Report is HERE. Please let us know what you think...either write gogreen@ancient-ways.org or use the Zimbabwe Whatsapp number on the back page to reach Jaiaen and the team!

As I explain in the Field Report I just found out that Winifilda and I had a minor breakdown in communication about the size of the purses she was making. I now have 23 purses which are 18"x18" instead of 11"x11". If you ordered a purse, please let me know right away if yours needs to be the smaller one. If so, she will be happy to make it! If not, please let me know and I will be bringing one of these incredible tote size purses back to you. If you don't write me sooooon, I will be writing you, since she needs much advance time doing this with the borrowed treadle. If you didn't order the smaller bag and would prefer the larger size, we have them! Thank you for being proactive and reaching out to me!


Library Hut Thatching Success!

After 17 years of wear and tear, this hut roof needed replacing. Thanks to your help, we managed to get 'er done!

The steps to building a new roof are amazing.

First the old roof is taken down.
And that isn't a quick job...

With a completely new roof, the poles are replaced, not just the grass.

Also not a quick job...

The gum poles are purchased, along with thatching grass, wire, nails, thatching twine and lathe. The poles are found about 27 km from our Community Center. We use a pickup truck and some strong men to cut poles and ferry them.

The area began being deforested in the 1950's and gradually a couple of plantations of gum poles (eucalyptus) sprung up to supplement firewood for the area, as well as provide poles for building.

Then we replace the poles.

Yes...this goes on for a while...and they get it figured out...

The thatch is purchased in completely different places than the poles. We bought in local Chief Rwizi's area from more than 8 villages. Also Chief Ngezi's area sold us thatch from 5 villages. Cosmas and Patricia were ferrying the items with the help of the 3 strong fellows.

It takes many loads to thatch a hut.
What a Beautiful Site!
And, all of our lovely library books are now safe and sound inside!

PLEASE NOTE - The marimba clip is Nyaradzo, from our Mwoyochena CD. This song was donated by Anzanga. This beautiful song is almost 8 minutes long...the clip repeat is only 1.5 minutes.

Get your own copy here!