Nyasha and family Pic

November Update from Zimbabwe!

Early winter greetings from here in Lacomb and summer greetings from Zimbabwe! Some rain has started for them, but is slow coming at this point. Our well building lid painter is busy painting as many lids as possible before the land begins getting soaked. We are hopeful that they have a good summer rainy season, and that he is able to paint many lids before the onset. We are repainting many wells after the serious repairs, which have been completed over the last couple of years.

Our well lid painter, Nyasha Muzambi, is also a key Nhimbe artisan and craftsperson with us since the beginning. His family has grown some and they now have 5 girls and one boy, which is a large family there, just like here. His wife, Gabriella, was our Nhimbe preschool teacher and librarian, but with the birth of the twins, which came along third, she needed to be at home. It was a big loss to our preschool, as she is super smart and always quite a contributor. Much of Nyasha’s artistry, as well as other crafts people’s, is on sale now here, with shipping all included!

Nyasha and family Pic

Picture Prior to the the Most Recent Newborn

We are sharing these crafts with you on the new marketplace, in time for your holidays. These precious items are calling to be in your homes. If you ever needed a genuine high-quality item from Zimbabwe, crafted by people who are feeding their families, paying for their children to attend school, covering medical bills, etc. now is the time! Please check out our variety of special gifts, including baskets, tapestries, purses, kitchen wares, and a few children’s items! As always, there are secure payment options, using credit card or Paypal. 

We also have a little update about our new library hut. We began a project to expand our library quite some time ago, with both a larger hut, and with more books. Here is the story of building our new hut, which now has painting and new shelf options left to complete.

The old library was the smallest hut ever built at Nhimbe and it has certainly outgrown that function. Serving not just the preschool and Mhandara Monthly Care, the local community also comes to read. People of all ages are benefiting, since the primary place to find a real library is the universities!

Because all tests are in English after grade 3, we are very interested in giving the residents as much exposure to English as possible, although our library also contains Shona language and the basic school text books. Many of the rural parents are not bilingual, which is very disempowering in a bilingual country.

What can we do to support the children as they are growing? Besides our Nhimbe preschool giving them the best start imaginable being a model in Zimbabwe, continuing to expand the library and reading options seems obvious. Please consider our library program as you are able, in your annual donation . . . see more background about our library’s evolution here! 

We hope this season is finding you and yours well. Some of you may have received a postcard from us in the mail last week, reminding you to think about jumping on the website to get an early start on your annual donation, helping us with Nhimbe for Progress for next year, or using easy recurring options, which any amount carries a big impact.

Everyone there and here appreciates the continued interest in our work. The local villagers have nothing like the type of assistance that Nhimbe brings. And, we here in Ancient Ways, barely scratch the surface of the personal and community needs, but hold the vision of uplifting these residents and providing opportunity where none exists. We then watch the ripple of these efforts move to many others in Zimbabwe, simply through their natural generous network of families and friends. They take care of each other, and we offer just some basics that everyone deserves, only because of your help. We all thank you very much! Tatenda Chaizvo!

Many Blessings to you and your families!

Picture of Three Children

Nhimbe Preschool’s 20th Anniversary!

The Nhimbe for Progress Preschool has been in operation for 20 years! Wow…what an achievement! Febby Shava has been in charge this entire time and, like a good wine, is only getting better with time. I would think it would get harder as one ages (I’m recalling she is in her early-mid 50’s), but maybe one gets wiser also, learns how to delegate, and knows the ins-and-outs.

Check out one of their favorite times!

Picture of Three Children

Febbie still walks 7 km to school to arrive before 8 a.m., and then back home again later in the day. She has accomplished a great deal in her 20 years and continues to hold the standards high for the early childhood development curriculum at our school, preparing these young ones for life and for the Zimbabwean educational system.

Another key person that has been there since the beginning in 2000 is our Inventory Control person, Efilda Katena. She is meticulous about keeping track of the property that belongs to Nhimbe, much of which belongs to the preschool. In the beginning we made mahewu for the children, which is a porridge-based drink that brews overnight. She would be there in the evening, and the morning to distribute flour for bread making, and then through the day to assure everything went well. She also attends MMC meetings and all functions related to the project. She is Cosmas’s elder sister, the oldest of the Magaya children, and takes her job very seriously. She survived Covid in 2020 and is looking really good in this picture, being somewhere in her 70’s.

Teacher's Picture

Boys and girls learn and grow within the safe nurturing space of our Community Center grounds. The preschool buildings are several, providing meals, a library, and multiple classroom spaces, as well as a playground. This year there are around 75 students walking from the nearby villages, coming from far more than just the 6 central villages.

Picture of a Child

 Our preschool is an enormous support to the entire area! Some refer to it as the heartbeat of Nhimbe for Progress, and definitely a model program for Zimbabwean preschools.

Check out this boy and his song about two birds, Peter and Paul.

And, the group song during class.

We actually do all of this on a shoestring budget. It’s the community heart involved that makes it so successful. If the economy in Zimbabwe were more stable, I would love to commit more resources, but typically it’s, “hold on to the tiger because that tail is always unpredictable”. Every time I think things are leveling out, another emergency arises out of the chaos. What makes for our stability is the earnestness of everyone involved…they live in the eye of the storm and my perception is that they handle the various crises far better than I.

Many thanks to you for your support of the preschool. Although costs have increased in Zimbabwe, just like everywhere in the world, morale is amazingly high. Preschool food, petrol prices to get supplies to the villages, and all associated expenses have continued to rise. It has been a challenge this year, and I know you also are facing the same phenomena.

Happy Child Picture

We appreciate your ongoing commitments to assist us with reaching out and touching these children’s lives on the other side of the planet!  They, their parents, and the entire community are so very grateful for our support as they continue to live through some of the most difficult times in Zimbabwean history.

Tatenda Chaizvo!

Picture of Woman at New Well

Thank You Soooo Much!

Your rapid and generous response has made it possible to give a go-ahead for building the four elderly widows’ wells!

It is with incredible gratitude that the members of Nhimbe and all of us involved say “Tatenda Chaizvo”.  You know, over there, when one person sees that there is an improvement for their neighbor, it gives them some hope.  Like a ray of sunshine in a sometimes darkened tunnel, where one’s vision can only see the difficulties (we’ve all been there), these changes to lifestyle affect them deeply.  Everyone they know is actually impacted by this.

Both directly, in terms of their increased prosperity, personal power, and how they show up in their community, as well as indirectly, just seeing Nhimbe benefit another resident, leaves a lasting imprint on their hearts and minds.

Here is another example of the situation with the wells.  This is Matirida Socha.  She is 82 years old and her well is hand dug, never having bricks.  She lives in the Magaya village.

Picture of Woman at New Well

This picture shows Isaac, our Building and Security manager, demonstrating how she pulls up her water from this type of well, which is normally quite turbid, plus contaminated with ground water runoff.  Once these kinds of wells collapse the situation is impossible . . . its not just dirt, but mud. 

Picture of Hand Dug Well

Your donations are making this a thing of the past!

Thank you again for your humanitarian heart, bringing hope and humanity to an otherwise unbearable hardship!  May the “water angels” bless you to overflowing your cup’s brim!

Picture of the woman next to her log covered well

Urgent Request – Elderly Need Water!

End-of-summer greetings to all!  We are deep in the well building process for the nine wells that were donated this year, and that is very exciting.  The rainy season is coming soon enough, and these wells must get completed before then.  We are making good progress, but, what has surfaced is a need for four more wells, which we currently have no source of funds to build.  This has just come up and is outside of our expected budget for 2022. The timing is difficult also, since we are focusing on 2023 operating requirements as we head into the end of the year.

These wells are for four elderly widows whose wells have collapsed. These ambuyas (elder women) are in their 70’s.  Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated by all.  The Shona people have a great reverence for their elderly and bringing water to these women would be a blessing for everyone…a very genuine way of honoring these women in their lives. 

Picture of the woman next to her log covered well

Let’s look at two of these women’s lives more closely. First is Loice Mhike, who is 76 years old and living in Muriritirwa village. Her children are away and can hardly fend for themselves. Originally built with bricks, her well collapsed in 2020. Loice has covered her well with all sorts of logs, so that no person or animal will fall in, and also to keep some of the farm-life debris out. Her kale-type of plants are there in the background, which is a beautiful sight.

Picture of the close up of the walls

You can see from the close-up, that the walls of the well are further giving way with exposed roots showing. We can hear her explaining to Muda what has happened in the following video.

This is Erita Dzukwa who is 74 years old. All of her children have passed on and she is looking after her grandchildren, which is no small matter. She is part of Magaya village, and lives near Isaac, our Building and Security manager. Her well is just an open one and no bricks were ever used, also collapsing around 2020 due to the heavy rains. She has incorporated every type of scrap metal possible to create a covering for the well hole. We can see a large area on the front corner for contaminated ground water to enter, as well as objects of various sorts.

Picture of woman next to her metal scrap

The resourcefulness of people in hardship is really touching. Trying by all means to have some decent protection of their water source must feel like an uphill battle.

What they really need is a clean water well built by Nhimbe for Progress! We provide cement and bricks and labor. Normally, the family chips in on the digging of the well, by getting help from a nephew, son, grandson, etc. But, in these four cases with these elderly widows, they have no kin close by to give them a hand with the digging.

For us to hire the diggers, it would take an extra $56 for each well. That brings the total from $330 to $386. Is this something you can include in your budget or share in the cost?

Any amount will help! We must raise $1,544 to meet this goal for these ambuyas to have clean water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and gardening. Clean water holds the potential for prosperity in all ways, yes?

Thank you for whatever you and your family can do! We here in the USA are so blessed to have clean water at our fingertips. Consider making availability of clean water a reality for one or more of these widows on the other side of the planet. Although you don’t know them, we all have the same needs . . . we all deserve the basics! Thank you for your consideration . . . you can help here, now!

Tatenda Chaizvo!

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

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!

Third Field Report

Many thanks go to Amy Blinn and Payton James-Amberg as they made it possible for me to blog while in Zimbabwe.  Many hands make light work!  In this case as well, the infrastructure in the villages just can’t support the needs for communication.  We were lucky to send an email!  Great appreciation here for their assistance, as well as the multiple families who helped me cover the home and farm while away!


Find the third field report here.  Please read when possible, and share with your community.  Thank you so much for the continued support.  I’m not posting it in its entirety since its full of pictures and video links, but here is a taste:

It is with much gratitude that I offer this third and final field report of our visit to Mhondoro.  Thank you for all you are doing to help us help them, both as contributions financially , and your own active efforts to make a difference.   Your generous encouraging words are precious thoughts that keep us going when things get tough.


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


  • APRIL HOLIDAY GIRL GUIDES 3-DAY CAMP A SUCCESS! – 235 Girls Attending – up from 74!
  • UNIVERSITY SPONSORSHIP – A Bit More is Required to Get Lillian Registered
  • LIBRARY UPDATE – New Books are now merging into the Library Re-Org
  • MARIMBAS AT THE COMMUNITY CENTER – Broken Marimbas are Being Replaced!
  • REPAIRS NEEDED – SMALL TO LARGE – Termites, Chairs and Hut Roofs All Require Attention
  • HOW YOU CAN HELP! What can you do that can make a difference?


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


Jaiaen’s Field Report #3

In this year’s final field report from Zimbabwe, Jaiaen writes:


Grasping what the basics of life are, is a gift… it’s not obvious. What appears to our senses is often diluted, over-stimulated, misrepresented, fluffed up without substance, etc., so discerning the essential can be elusive. Like all that we take for granted… fresh water, enough energy to produce food, enough food to sustain health, air that heals, medical care for loved ones, freedom to govern one’s life and make choices without duress, sovereignty of mind, body, spirit… the list goes on. What are the real requirements for wellness, wholeness, happiness?




Transport – $5/gallon, few vehicles on the road, and sardine-like commuter travel are a lifestyle.
Real African medicine – meeting Sekuru Moyo gives hope for the future.

Survey results – after some serious interviews, we will have a completely new look at the complexion of the Nhimbe families’ living situations.


Read all the details here, or access through the menu at Blog & Reports>Archived Field Reports & Letters.


After reading these field reports, if you’d like to make a donation, please donate through the website or call the office 877-TATENDA (877-828-3632) or (541) 259-HOPE (541-259-4673).


Thanks for your support,


More News from Zimbabwe

We received another update from Jaiaen in Zimbabwe!


Here is an excerpt with a quick summary, Jaiaen writes:


Access to the internet, phone, WhatsApp etc., has been limited this trip. I could see that some of you wrote me with wonderful replies sharing blessings of encouragement, new ideas, financial donations, and the like, but I have not been able to reply. It is complicated to describe how one can have some internet but not enough network or battery to respond. This is particularly true in the rural area where I have spent most all of my time. I’m sorry to not be able to dive right into conversation with you, as that is my nature, but it has to wait until the door opens. Thank you so much for your interest and concern for these people. There is much suffering in the world and I appreciate your partnership in making your difference show here!



  • Weather report – praises for thunderstorms!
  • Empowerment from you to purchase some supplies is done with tremendous gratitude.
  • Re-thatching is on the radar but a challenge to see easily on the horizon.
  • Permaculture and our preschool are a good match…love that produce.
  • Monthly care and underwear – we are making great progress and are hopeful for the future.
  • Health concerns are continual…we have much to do.

You can access the full document here, or from our Field Reports page on the website.