Nhimbe Community Garden Doing Well!

The Nhimbe for Progress Community Center gardens continue to produce, even though the inclement weather destroyed crops, and the fire ruined many of their efforts in 2021. We are grateful to see that the elderly residents keep reaping the rewards, as does our Nhimbe preschool.

Since the regular gardener was off work, Efilda, our inventory control person, and Kenny, our MMC (Mhandara Monthly Care) marimba teacher, are harvesting the covo, a green much like spinach and kale. Greens are a staple throughout Zimbabwe.

These tender bunches of covo are now ready for distribution. Everyone is very happy to receive, and be able to offer this help…it’s a win-win. Traditionally, great care is taken to pay attention to the needs of the elderly. Some of the rural residents’ children live in cities, so our community outreach is a deep blessing, by watching out for them. The “elderly” residents were originally defined as 70 years and older, according to our surveys. For the CHANGE! (Covid-19 Health Advocacy Network Growing Education!) distribution, they have changed it to be closer to 60. Although exact age is uncertain, as older records are unreliable, everyone accepts guessing as a valid substitute.

Click here for a short video to see some footage of the exchange.

Click here for another.

Thank you all for your continued support – your generosity is the foundation of our success, without which, Nhimbe for Progress would not exist, except in the world of visions and dreams.

If you missed our annual letter, please check it out here!  We have ceased sending snail mail, but if you would like a hard copy to share, please let us know!  We have a new feature on the website that lets you setup a recurring donation of any amount!, which helps us with our annual planning and budgeting.  Tatenda Chaizvo!


Preschool Graduates for Nhimbe 2021

Hoping you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season! 

If you haven’t checked out the last email from us, please do so now as it links you to all of the annual letter information!  Fully deductible donations can be made for 2021. Thank you to those who are reaching out during this busy time of year.  You do make the difference!  

Nhimbe for Progress Preschool is going into its 20th year and has been profoundly successful over the course of many challenges.  This year we found 37 preschoolers graduated, which is up from an average of 25, due to the convoluted school years since the beginning of Covid-19.  Many stops and starts have these children now ready to move on, ready for grade 1 at the schools nearby their homes. 

Boys and girls, by themselves, or with mother, or father, sharing in this big day!

We serve many surrounding villages beyond the core six that are primary to Nhimbe.  Any child who can get to our facilities is allowed to attend.  This may mean that the parents walk the child to and from school each morning and afternoon.  We are very grateful to be able to assist the entire population in the area with these services…and all because of your support!

The children always share what they are learning!

Here the child has a speech to give.

After introducing themselves, these three have a little dancing and singing routine to offer.

This next video feels very connected to the metaphoric nature of the culture and their language…Very creative story line about someone who has been mugged, and the good Samaritan who helps them get care.  The Shona children are always giving plays.

Another two children, each with demonstrated ability to share in public…very sweet. 

Fortunate Takaendesa has been at our school for many years.  She leads the children in much singing and dancing and does a great job.  Here she leads the children in reciting.  This video also gives an idea of the attendance, with parents on the ground, and the visiting official guests under the tent.  There was much competition this year for attendance, due to farming inputs being unexpectedly distributed by the government at the same time.

Isaac Maodzeka is our Building and Security manager.  Although he doesn’t work within the preschool program, he is always around supporting all activities.  You can see the new library and marimba huts being built in some picture backgrounds and it is his job to oversee that, as well as all well building.  He is here on behalf of the team, cheering them all on!

Febby Shava has been with us for 20 years as the head of the Nhimbe preschool.  Last year she also joined the ranks as the co-director of Nhimbe for Progress, handling all of the children and parent communication and support. She is doing a great job! Here she is encouraging the parents and emphasizing the foundational importance of early childhood development.  If you listen closely, you will hear her say “ECD” more than once.

Hope you have enjoyed the Nhimbe Preschool graduation story for 2021. This year, it has taken much more effort for them to send videos and pictures. There has been a combination of increased network difficulties due to the cyclone damage, continuing family business since Cosmas’ passing, as well as the normal challenges of working in rural Zimbabwe. For anyone who has been camping, you get the idea of what daily life entails. Rough, but doable ;*))

Thank you again for your ongoing support! Please click here to go to the website for immediate gratification!  We are doing our best to support them through some of the most intense times in their history.  Its because of you that we are able to do that!  Tatenda Chaizvo from all of those involved!

That wasn’t the latest news…

If you received an email about Cyclone Eloise, the post did indeed get sent late last night as a fluke. We were working on the website and are still not clear how it was republished as a brand new post. If you didn’t read about it in March when we first posted, please enjoy in your email, as the duplicate has been removed from the website. Due to your generosity, we were able to repair the Community Center in April and May and get the children back to school on schedule. Thank you for your continued support!

New news to share with you has been slow coming. The complete lock down in Zimbabwe during most of June and July may be lifted really soon. Its now possible for Muda to travel to Mhondoro and get the projects moving again, hopefully heading out tomorrow. In early June, we had purchased extreme amounts of soap (almost $3,000 worth) to distribute over the next four months (their winter) but then were forced to sit tight…no one was allowed any travel. The genuine panic has been high due to the virus variants. So we are all anxious to see what is going on in the rural area.

We had just begun work on several new projects when the fire destroyed the playground. We haven’t even been able to visit the chief to see if we can expand to one side. The cost of fencing may be prohibitive, but the preschoolers certainly can’t play in the ashes. And, now they need to be schooling outside more than ever. Updates to come next week!

We hope this finds you and your family well. Our own county cases here in Oregon are escalating. We are continuing performing outside over the next two weeks, albeit with masks. The first of the August opportunities to share the music was yesterday in Corvallis as the temps were nearing 100. We have a strong crew of marimba-playing-addicts looking at playing three more times in the next two weeks, in Philomath and Silverton. Please do check our calendar in case you are in the area!

Much love for this music keeps our local community well-knitted. We are eternally grateful for the incredible way it has worked in our lives, even during the pandemic. My thanks always go back to my first teacher, Maggie, and we keep paying it forward, all the way to Mhondoro!

Thank you for your time, your thoughts and prayers. I feel very blessed by each of you, and how you have changed my life! Tatenda Chaizvo!

Update from Nhimbe Preschool!

The Zimbabwean 2021 school year has been an unusual unfolding!  You may remember, we first expected to be in school right after the first of the year, by the 4th of January.  Normally, we don’t begin thinking about the new school year until near the 15th of January, as they take a full month off between terms.  But this year, to catch up on what was lost in study and exams during Covid-19 last year, the Ministry of Education had a plan to move forward quickly. 


Then, the rescheduling began.  First, we were planning to start up Feb 1, then Feb 15th.  Now, we are waiting until March. Personally, I have been relieved by the delay, since there are so many unknowns.  But, I have no idea what it’s like to live in Africa, nor be making impactful decisions where poverty is always chasing after so much of the population. Vaccines are becoming available there as well.


Unfortunately, to get ready to return to school, the government required rubber boots and disposable gowns, (yes, the ones for medical workers) for everyone at the Community Center (10 people).  We went ahead and purchased all of the required items (over $850 worth), although I’m not seeing any other countries following suit to “gear up” in this way.


I do have to say that I have no idea what information they might have that I don’t, like is the South African Covid-19 variant more transmissible, particularly on clothing or soil?  I think that the government is doing the best they can with the information provided, plus have a bit more urgency pushing them into conclusions. The virus is not friendly, and traditionally the S.A. border is soooo very close, that I can understand the panic mode.


At this point we plan on being in Nhimbe preschool at the beginning of March.  We are dawning gowns and rubber boots as required. If it turns out that they are not required, we would be in a pickle since one really can never return anything in Zimbabwe.  At least, that has been my experience.  So, if we are not really required to wear the gowns, we will hopefully find some medical establishment where we can sell them and re-coop some funds ($700 for just one month).


Clearly the disposable gown idea is not sustainable, particularly since most schools are government run.  The rubber boots may be a welcome bonus to the staff’s home life instead of returning them if it came to that, since I really can’t imagine that the government is going to require everyone to wear rubber boots either. 


We have always been “at the mercy” of the various tides of the times and what the situation there requires, no matter if it makes sense.  And this is no exception.  Within the next week we should know the way forward.  Loss of human life is a grave penalty to make any casual decisions.  Several in political positions, who have already died, are marking another phase in this heart-breaking awakening. 


Next week I hope to bring more news, not so much about the school, but the wells.  We thought that 2021 was to be a focus on the drought and deepening wells, but now with more than one cyclone hitting the eastern side of Zimbabwe, heavy rains have been pouring heavily at Nhimbe.  Much damage to the toilets, huts, playground equipment, and a library window at the Community Center will require several repairs.  Pictures and estimates will hopefully tell us soon, what it will take to keep things afloat. 


Thanks for tuning in…Zimbabwe has been in a lock-down now for several weeks, and so we have just this little update to share.


Continue to stay safe and thank you again for your continued interest and support!

10/6 Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

Ancient Ways Community Marimba Ensembles are again sharing the sweet and uplifting music from Zimbabwe at the Annual Silverton Sidewalk Shindig.


We’ll be playing from 12-3 pm.  Please find us in the parking lot between Citizens Bank and the Town House Cafe on Main Street (next to the painted wall mural).


See https://www.facebook.com/sidewalkshindig/ for more information.  Come and say hello!

Upcoming Gigs July/August


We’ve got a whole slew of gigs coming up this week and beyond. Come hear the Ancient Ways Community Ensemble play uplifting music from Zimbabwe.


  • Saturday July 21 11:00 am to 1 pm – Albany Farmers’ Market
  • Sunday July 22 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Hours Traders Summer Marketplace at the Corvallis Riverfront
  • Saturday July 28 9:30 am to Noon – Corvallis Farmers’ Market
  • Thursday August 2 2 pm to 4 pm – Lebanon Farmers’ Market
  • Thursday August 9 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm – Tapas and Treasures fundraiser for Meals on Wheels hosted by Corvallis Rotary Club at Garland’s Nursery in Corvallis

We hope to see lots of people dancing this summer!



Second Field Report

More updates from Jaiaen in Zimbabwe! Read below now, or in the archive at Field Report 2.


April 5th 2018


Greetings from the Zimbabwean soil!


It is with much gratitude that I write this second field report. Your generosity is amazing. Many thanks to those
who felt connected to donating for the solar system. We will be able to replace the deep cycle battery in time
for camp, as well as get the smaller unit if we can locate the seller right away. The plan is to replace the old
battery, thereby lighting up the large building being used as an annex and then putting the smaller unit that
comes with multiple lights at the preschool. This is for both inside and outside so the girls can find the toilets
(pit-style) on the perimeter. Rumor has it that Friday even more girls will come to camp than came to our
meeting! We are now prepared. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What an incredible help!


Here is the short version for those of you on the run:

  • Mhandara Monthly Care MEETING – 107 Nhimbe girls up from 74, Rwizi, Gavaza, Rukuma – 101!
  • SATURDAY, SUNDAY & CRAFTS – embroidery, bracelets, purses, and hosho help tell a story.

Mhandara Monthly Care MEETING


We returned from town late on Thursday. It was the 4-day Easter weekend and so there were traffic jams and
grocery store lines that moved extremely slowly. We came back with supplies to keep us going for a week to
include food, embroidery items, and MMC sample packages. We really wanted to demonstrate to the girls at
Friday’s meeting how to use the unique MMC Program items. Mhandara is a Shona word meaning “women’s days”.


Patricia had purchased the underwear, buckets and soap at the shops and our seamstresses had finished one
batch of pads, which supplies 15 girls. We had delivered more of the donated fabrics to the seamstresses so they
could begin batch #2. There were some minor adjustments that were like hiccups in converting from the
donated yardage widths to metrics, and we all ended up learning. What an amazing process to see all the pieces
coming together.


We are always in between a snail’s pace and clockwork, and vigilantly paying attention to never make
assumptions about what will happen next, or how things might flow. An old friend and board member, Mary
Ann, used to advise me to ”relinquish expectations” and I always loved being reminded of that and continue to
hold the adage close to my heart. We learn to live with an expectancy of wonder but without expectations.


Friday, we headed to the Community Center to see many girls had arrived by noon for the weekly Girl Guides
meeting. They had walked 2 hours from afar to be there on time. Girls continued to come for an hour. When we
finally took a headcount we had 208 girls, coming from the 5 new schools (Gavaza primary and secondary,
Rukuma primary and secondary, Rwizi Community college), as well as coming from our regular 5 schools in the
Nhimbe villages’ area. Holy cow… we did not expect such a turnout, but everyone began working together to
hold the vision and implement the expanding ideas.


Starting with huge circle we spread across the grassy space where normally preschool children play. We sang
welcoming songs to embrace the new children so that everyone felt more at home. To address the girls with the
presentation, we changed the arrangement to sitting semicircle, but within minutes the rains began dropping.
Quickly they began moving into the preschool building, but of course there wasn’t enough room. So we had the
oldest girls stay first inside while the youngest, ranging from 8 and not yet in puberty up through grade 7, were
organized to go into another building.


Demonstrating the use of the reusable washable pads went very well. Since we had so many children, and two
groups to manage, we didn’t get to do boy-talk, but promised them camp-time next weekend when we delve
into all the favored topics. We explained how the MMC and Hurukuro Na Tete are designed to work for them,
and that we are all one … we were girl’s once too, and became women through the same transforming process
that they are now navigating.


Then we introduced the guest speaker, our Lillian, whom we have learned is far beyond just a sweetheart and
huge help. I had asked Lillian if she might talk to the girls because she knows intimately the what-and-how of
female experiences here in Zimbabwe. She agreed and promptly came back the following day with the attached presentation, which she had written on her phone in the night, asking, “Is this okay, mum?”


Okay? Are you kidding me? It was fantastic and just what the doctor ordered! So when it came to offering it to
these young ones sitting at her feet, she spoke eloquently and directly to the girls, who were entranced by her
passion and directness, speaking to the heart of the matter. She didn’t read it as a speech, but is clearly a wellzealed public speaker, using just a few bullet points to help stay on track. I’m including her talk in our report as a second document, so you can gain new vision and hope for Zimbabwe’s future and female children.


As an aside I’m mentioning here: She wants to continue to attend the last year at University but it is $1,000, of
which she has saved $200. She has come out of the poorest townships, worked many very small jobs for the last
7 years, as well as gratefully received a gift for some classes. If you would like to invest in Lillian’s future (she is
27 and most times it takes a long time to pursue education here), and potentially also in Nhimbe’s future (as
there is a huge place for her on our team), please feel free to go to www.ancient-ways.org and write me at
windgatherer@ancient-ways.org so I know you are interested. You can see she is gifted, and is daily seeking how
to be part of the solution!


We managed to reach all the girls in the meeting and then took them in groups of 10-15 on a tour through our
ever growing library hut. This was particularly for the new girls (101 of them), who had never been to our
Community Center before. Jess, with a tremendous love of books and writing, stepped in and took over sharing
what the library is for and how English can be fun, as well as important to make new friends (like us), and not
just for passing exams. This freed me up to move onto the next puzzle piece.


The teachers who had accompanied the girls on this long hike, 3 in all, shared their concern for the girl’s ability
to come to the camp because of the long distance. With some discussion, we sorted out that we could use the
truck to go to the schools and pick up the children’s gear (bedroll, etc.), then they would come on foot next
Friday. It all sounds like a plausible plan. The petrol required should not cost a huge amount and this could open
the doors for the children to attend. We shall see next week how it all works.


We also discussed that with some thought, we really will want to prepare some trainings for the leaders so that
they can potentially hold regular meetings in their areas. At this point it’s all voluntary for them. We do pay our
Nhimbe leaders to hold camp and weekly meetings, but financially we are not prepared to expand services of
this nature far and wide. So as long as these teachers want to help their girls, just taking it along with their
teaching duties, we should be able to offer them the MMC supplies.


We wrapped up the long day by giving each girl a permission slip. We had actually thought ahead and
photocopied 5 per page, but didn’t have enough, so our oldest Girl Guides got paper and pen and proceeded to
make sheets by hand until we completed distribution. I got the impression that hand writing notes to parents is
a normal thing. We only gave them to the 101 new girls and then made sure everyone was all on the same page.


If their parents give permission, they bring 1 cup of mealie meal (maize flour), a blanket for a bed roll, a change
of clothes, and a towel to their individual schools on next Friday at 10 a.m. They will load the truck and then
leave at 11 to arrive at 1. We will start camp at 2 p.m. They must confirm by Wednesday since we will buy food
for the camp next Thursday when we go to town. Everyone exchanged phone numbers.


The final piece was realizing that the day had grown long and the girls were getting hungry, having another 2
hours to walk to their school and then home from there. We normally don’t budget to feed girls at the weekly
meetings, but under these circumstances I knew we had to find food quickly. Lucky indeed, the donated fabrics
were giving us breathing room in the budget. The money allocated for buying flannel was now being diverted to
the truck petrol purchase for camp, and also to give these kids a small something for their bellies. There is a
snack here called maputi, which is a traditional popcorn. We were able to buy each child as well as our leaders a
little bag for 10 cents each at Patricia’s store, covering everyone for less than $21. What a lovely end to a
beautiful day!




With the embroidery women well on their way to sewing the animal blocks, we hooked up with the 5 Nhimbe
female staff that didn’t have previous embroidery experience. They too needed to make some money. This
included our librarian who was my main translator for this group, the groundkeeper, the two cooks and the
janitor. My cousin from Arizona had donated some semi-precious stone beads that we began making bracelets
in two sizes for. In two hours’ time they earned $55 amongst them, which left very happy faces.


Additionally, we also had a small purse project that they worked on as well, all sewn by hand, of course. We had
also bought some hosho (the rattle that we use with the mbira or marimba music) from a local maker and mbira
player named Friday Chamunorwa. It was perfect timing for him as his wife was ill and really needing medical
attention. With us bringing just a few items back home for Zimfest and some other smaller venues, we can share
more of the story of these men and women. Thank you for your continued support on this regard. I have tried to
reduce being a merchant since it always entails inventorying etc., but I guess it’s in my blood. Also, seeing and
hearing about the difference these little projects make, impels, compels, and propels me every time.




Sold by the liter here, the average cost by the gallon is diesel at $4.65 and petrol for all other vehicles at $5.11.
Prices for food are all over the board. We bought a very nice brown seed bread for $1.49, clearly mainly
purchased by the upper crust of Shona who actually have a job. White and cheap brown bread are about $1 per
loaf. There are more expensive stores in the wealthiest neighborhoods, but most township residents would not
afford to buy the brown bread. Some of the food prices were shockingly the same as US stores. We are hoping
to eat on $10 a day for the two of us, and that is with bringing some comfort food from home… can’t wait to see
how we do with our allowance.


Many people continue to be unemployed. We met someone who approached us at the supermarket. He asked if
we were paying cash (didn’t matter if it was USD or the new Zimbabwean bank notes, which are supposed to be
equivalent). When we said yes were using money, he asked if he could buy our groceries using his bank card,
and then we pay him cash. This fellow, looking to be maybe in his mid-thirties, was an architect and worked for
the government. He explained that although he had a job and was being paid (not always the case in the past
years), they paid him by depositing all of his check in the bank. That wouldn’t be bad except the bank doesn’t
allow withdrawals of more than $20-30 a day. You might have thousands of dollars in there but cannot get it out
in cash. Of course we obliged, but I only felt safe undertaking the whole thing because we had our Shona friends
with us buying groceries.


We understand that although it is not supposed to happen, there continues to be various ways that the
economy is being altered illegally. One is that there is an illegal parallel market that generates an extra 20-25% if
someone has USD to change. The police are working hard to get this under control. Currently it is happening on
street corners in public view. The second thing is that shop owners are doubling, tripling and sometimes
charging six-fold the value of an item if you only have the new bank notes. Obviously this is hard for the average
person who never sees USD.


People who live in the cities often go to town, catching a bus for 50 -$1. They spend a good part of the day
looking for work, and doing money-making merchant deals. They end up eating the fast-food just like many do in
America, mainly because they must leave home early to get a vending space and can’t pack a lunch. Often the
spot they had yesterday may be gone. Many of the vendors are graduates learning the basics of real-life
entrepreneurial enterprise.




We spent some time planning for this year’s well building. Requiring a dry season starting in May-June, we will
be looking to build 15 wells by November. There are also wells needing repairs, which have been damaged by
inclement weather. There will be an evaluation made as to whether any of the wells were built on our watch,
and if so why have they failed. If it was the particular builder then he will not be part of our business in the
future. If these wells were built unrelated to us, we can still potentially assist with repairs. We are focusing on
the elders first, since they have no way to get funds for improvements.


To build a well, the family first must dig a 20 foot hole about 5 feet wide. The younger fellows work together to
accomplish this feat, looking much like Spiderman or a monkey climbing up and down. Then we provide 1,000
bricks from local makers and the cement, as well as pay the builders, who have just more than doubled their fee.
We haven’t kept up with inflation here. It’s just been impossible!


Patricia will negotiate a good bulk price in town and have 90-100 cement bags delivered. The paint also is
bought in the city and the painter will be putting the donor’s name on the well. This reminds them daily that
people from afar actually do think of them, and you too get a picture to remind you of the incredible impact you
have on an extended family. Pure water for cooking, cleaning, and garden will improve the overall health and
prosperity of the entire community often for generations. Thank you so much for your help with our WATER!
(Wells And Toilets Everyone’s Right) program.




Monday, Jess and I went to the Center and inventoried the approximate 100 new book arrivals by title and
author. This freed up Efilda, our inventory control person, to work on her embroidery. We have a couple
duplicates but not many at all. I wish I had time (or the typing help) to get the list in the computer so that we can see what’s there… there are around 750 books! If anyone has some extra time to do typing, please write me. A list of this type would be useful to check when shopping for future donating. What do you think?


We decided that to increase space in our library as it is the very smallest hut, we moved the littlest bookcase to
the large room which is used as the preschool annex. On Tuesday, two teenage boys were at the shops and
came to help with the lifting. We took all the preschool books and organized for their reading and story time.
We also agreed to make this larger building available as the library annex during Saturday’s 10-2 pm hours have
many children are coming to read and be read to.


The librarian, hired during my last trip in 2016 as also a preschool teacher, is in heaven and very happy. Your
selections are wonderful, many of which are award winning. There was a perfect distribution between all the
age groups, so that everyone, from the most educated to the least, all have choices. Teachers from the nearby
schools even come to read, and a local MP made a donation of books as he recognizes the value. This library is a
great gift of empowerment for the whole community!


We have a few challenges such as broken chairs and bookcases built without adequate height so books have to
lay down, as well as a general lack of experience with managing so many books. However, considering that there
are no libraries here to speak of except at universities, we are just so grateful for the opportunity! This is an
evolving process like everything else and we all continue to nhimbe (work together) for progress.


Thank you again for your continued interest and support. We can’t do it without your help. Everyone here
sends many thanks!



Jaiaen’s First Field Report from Zimbabwe


Jaiaen and Jess have arrived and been busy in Zimbabwe! You can read the first field report (also archived on our website) at Field Report 1, or continue below.  Thank you for your continued support, especially if you are able to help with the solar repair project described below…and now over to Jaiaen’s report…


March 29 2018


Dear Friends of Zimbabwe,


Arriving at the Harare airport always feels somewhat like swimming underwater. The altitude and humidity creates a palpable texture to the experience. Nothing quite like it. No matter which airline you take, it is quite a long journey, but we actually got some pretty decent seating. Jess figured out after a couple of legs, that exit row seating was the solution as she is a tall, long-legged gal. Leaving home on Wednesday around 2:30 p.m. and getting into Harare Friday 12:30 p.m. sounds like 46 hours but due to time zones it was really only 37.


Here is the short version: 




We – Jess, my helper this trip, and I – were blessed with an uneventful flight and all bags arriving safely. We quickly found the welcoming faces of Cosmas Magaya, our Project Director and his wife, Patricia, who is also our key coordinator for the Mhandara Monthly Care program (MMC). Within a few hours after landing, we had stopped for supplies, dropped by the family home in the townships, left some donated flannel in town for getting a batch of the reusable washable pads underway, and headed out to Mhondoro, the rural home. We arrived after sundown on the 23rd. Tasvika! Sorting quickly through the trunks to find bedding by flashlight left us well spent and ready for our first night’s sleep at the village homestead.


Although we each had night-time mice visitors, we managed to overcome our first hurdle, as we are both hardy campers. Jess, an OSU student, my assistant and friend on this trip, woke up to two little eyes within inches of her own, but luckily outside of her mosquito net. The mouse in my hut was rustling about in a drawer, so I tossed the entire cane unit outside to be dealt with later. In the a.m. I was able to empty the drawer in the grass, assuming the noisy creature had gone during the night, but no. The thing was huge… I thought it was a rat… and it dashed right back into my hut!


Finally later in the day, three of the women came armed with broken tree branches to help me roust it out. Unfortunately, it had a nest of three babies inside the bottom of my bed and so it was not going to just be chased out. With their sticks they promptly dispatched them all and I finally was able to sleep. I felt badly, I just don’t like killing, but I reminded myself that it was probably just the first of many hard things, where not all involved are happy with the results. This can be a common situation as people think “us Americans” can solve everything with money and I often have to find ways of saying no, just like to the mice… Just can’t host those guests.


Jess said her mouse was rather small and crawled under the door that second night for a quick peek at her, but then left. She has since stuffed the hole with a plastic bag.


We have been on the run since arriving. Saturday was spent unpacking and barely settling, visiting our Chief Nherera who helps us help them, and getting the kitchen organized for the 3 week stay. We have hired Lillian, a very bright and talented 27 year-old with excellent English, a large capacity for endurance and hard work, and a superb cook. She is helping us with all the domestic necessities, translation help, as well as data entry. And, wow… we are eating great! Saturday was also spent successfully meeting with the marimba and mbira teachers to check on several things that will be unfolding during the trip.




Sunday was a big day, meeting with our craftswomen who are embroidering the blocks that we began importing long ago. We will again have a few of these blocks at Zimfest, as well as filling an order for a quilting venture. These women are so grateful for the work and the money to help pay school fees. Not enough can be said about supporting their art projects and its effect on their morale as well as the food on their table.


We also had many meters of flannel fabric in our suitcases that were donated to the MMC program from three main sources. So Sunday we spent some time measuring and cataloging for Nhimbe inventory purposes. Everyone is so grateful for the help, and the flannel quality from Canada and the US is far better than what we have been buying here in the shops.


Sunday was our first big day of filming, and Jess was found behind the camera at every turn. She has a natural affinity for camera use as well as has found the women delightful and the culture fascinating. She is so very personable that she quickly found a place in their hearts. Filming the embroidery stitching and flannel inventory kept us busy for hours.




Monday came quickly and our plan was to drive to 5 local schools in one day, 2 of which were already part of our Nhimbe community, having participated in Girl Guides for several years. Our goal was to reach out to more girls and see what kind of natural expansion was possible. We were met with great interest in all locations. Basically we gave a short spiel on our program to stir interest.


But then, it started occurring to us, since we were talking to hundreds of girls, that if even ten percent show up at our camp next week, we had better think about logistics. First is to see how many girls come to this coming Friday’s meeting. It’s a normal weekly meeting where they either sew or sing and talk. This time we will talk about the MMC system and our protocol for participating. We will also talk about my favorite subject, boys. Predation is a serious problem as it is anywhere in the world. Our goal is to arm these girls with knowledge, awareness, and permission to be unashamed to talk with our leaders. The program is called Hurukuro Na Tete, meaning “Discussions with Auntie.” Everyone loves that name! Hopefully we will help reduce teen pregnancy, HIV, and improve overall happiness for females, although I’m not sure that we can influence child marriage.


The 3 new schools (actually each consist of secondary and grade 7 from the primary as well) are all quite a distance to walk, so teachers have offered to accompany the girls. That was the first logistic to solve. Hopefully it’s worth the hike! Maybe the teachers will become as passionate about it as we are and can begin their own satellite programs out from our Nhimbe community center, with training from our leaders. This would mean the girls can stay closer to home. I’m sure that getting all of the adults together will benefit everyone, as our leaders are also very eager to learn. They really appreciate my blunt and to the point nature, particularly when talking about shy topics. I lost my shy somewhere along the way.


Another concern about the camp, scheduled for the 6th through the 8th, is that the solar battery is now unusable. It had a long good life, installed around 2006. To get a new marine deep-cycle is easily $300 and the tech to install and check the system another $100. Since we don’t have that extra in the budget we are trying to find alternatives. There are some little systems for $165 that we might be able to install. The small system will charge phones too. The large system from ’06 will charge cameras and laptops, so is the better long term solution.


In any case, with 75-80 girls normally at camp, and if we mushroom to include the new girls, with over 100 plus some, we really need to have some lights at the community center. I’m particularly concerned for the new girls since they are totally unfamiliar with the grounds. If you are in a position to help with this situation please go online to www.ancient-ways.org or send a check, indicating that you want to help with the solar repair! Please let me know at windgatherer@ancient-ways.org that you are contributing to this so I can make a corresponding decision. Thank you so much! And the girls thank you too!


The filming and driving to each of the schools took all day Monday and we were all whipped by the end. Zimbabweans have a lot of endurance and even they were tired. A storm had started moving in on Sunday, stirring up dust, mold and grass seed in the hut roofs, and Jessie and I began sniffling and sneezing about the same time. We both have needed to increase our vitamin vigilance and try to fend off being immune compromised from fatigue.




Tuesday gave us the last day of the first term to pack in all possible filming of the preschool. Again by the end of the day we were bushed.


We made it through the day with scampering children everywhere, and are still recouping from the intensive, purposeful activities and weather changes. Hopefully a break to town to get supplies will be an easy diversion. I tend to like to stay rural, and avoid cities, much like back in the states, but do look forward to solving some communication challenges that can only be dealt with in a network area. We, in the states, take much for granted in city life.




Normally today, Wednesday, would have been payday due to the upcoming Easter holiday weekend, but even though we had hundreds of dollars between us, we didn’t have any small bills to pay people. That means another reason to go to Harare, since the rural area has little money. So instead of payday, we had a nice staff meeting where Cosmas and I were able to explain more about the world economy, and how much we appreciate their hard and committed efforts. We all enjoyed the conversation and could have simply adjourned, but gratefully I was in a position to offer them a slight increase in compensation due to your generosity this year. When I calculated it, the actual percentage of increase was around 10%, but we had kept a tight lid on any raises, since their dollarization of ’09 and our housing collapse of ’08, and just not being sure of how the economies were going. So it felt great to be able to shift after having to hold such a hard line, and everyone was very happy! We paid them just the increase, and will go to town to get change for the remainder.


We’ve taken a risk here and I’m hoping it was well founded. We are able to continue this work because of you and your generosity, and also because they are a super team, carrying out the mission and executing our agreements with great cooperation.




Thank you again for your prayers and encouraging words. Jessie and I are blessed to be here and thank you for your continued interest and support of these people in their efforts towards progress. From the infants to the elders, they are all benefitting. The work is reaching far more than the 6 villages, due to the nature of the preschool and the MMC and how both of these programs can welcome anyone in need.


Thank you for hearing me… I am typing this in the dark of my hut, listening to the Zimbabwean bugs, maybe crickets, talking quietly just outside, and thinking that tomorrow is going to come very early as we will head out for the 1.5 hour drive to the capital city after breakfast.


All the best,

Jaiaen and Jess


Visit to Zimbabwe Soon!

Our spring trip to Zimbabwe is almost upon us!

Thank you for noticing the Field Reports as they come to your inbox over the next few weeks.

We welcome your thoughts, and above all your encouragement!  Stay tuned…

Here is a link to previous field reports

Upcoming Ancient Ways Events April/May

Please put these two events at Thyme Garden in Alsea on your calendar http://www.thymegarden.com/Events

  • April 23rd, at 2 pm, the Circle of Well Being, the wellness program of Ancient Ways, is sponsoring a healing circle as part of the Earth Day celebration at Thyme Garden 11 am. to 3 pm. Settled in the forest next to a waterway, Thyme Garden is well known for its incredible selection of herbs and enormous woodsy ambiance. Children welcome!
  • Sunday, May 14th, Ancient Ways community ensembles will be playing the sweet and uplifting music from Zimbabwe on marimbas as part of the 24th annual “Art in the Garden” Mother’s Day event (13th-14th, 10-5 pm). Kufindura will play 12:30 pm to 2 pm. Tamuka Marimba and Kufindura will both play 3:30 to 5 pm. Put on your dancing shoes!

Looking forward to seeing you there!