Bags of Grain

Summer Greetings from Lacomb!

Hope this finds you and yours well, and enjoying your summer. The weather variability is one of the hottest topics of conversation all over the world. It is sizzling here for our little web feet…the frogs and ducks prefer more moisture!


We have been very wrapped around gigging the mid-valley, from Scio, to Silverton and Philomath, having had two events cancelled due to extremes in weather, and with two upcoming opportunities this week in the Corvallis area. One is a private event, but please feel welcome to support the Willamette Grange restoration project (Greenberry Rd.), which is open to the public, this coming Saturday evening from 7 to 8:30 pm, as we share the uplifting music that we study together throughout the year. Even during lock down, we were learning online, or outside under our barn’s carport, and now are so happy to be out and about, able to celebrate what we love, which is both this music, and bringing attention to Zimbabwe’s situation.

Besides the ongoing music study, and more student vacations than I ever recall, we here on the farm have quite an extensive gardening project underway, learning from our Zimbabwean neighbors about living as close to the land as possible, and being blessed by nature’s bounty. The rather wet spring, followed by the heat waves, have kept us a little on edge, learning to be far more adaptable, and developing new gardening skills. I continue to be in huge gratitude for the nurturing that comes from the earth, and also a superbly functioning well bringing water from an underground stream. We did have a problem with the well iron filter during the hottest spell at the beginning of the month, and so I have been left with an even greater ever-appreciation for W.A.T.E.R!


Due to your incredible support last fall, we fulfilled our agreement to provide maize to the staff getting them through May. Green mealies (more like our fresh corn) usually come on by March to April, but this year, it again didn’t happen that way. The residents have been messed with by the weather patterns for quite a few years now. A high percentage of crop failures meant no staple crop amongst the local people in our villages.

So, we again purchased 1 ton of maize to get staff through from June until December of this year. That really won’t completely solve the problem, since whatever they are planting in November won’t be harvested until March ’23, but it at least will help. I didn’t reach out to you and ask for your assistance when we made the decision. Muda and Febby, the project directors, presented a compelling case for stepping up again. We discussed the realities and moved forward quickly, since prices have been skyrocketing there. If you have the heart for supporting this staple food program, please do so now, here! We spent $2,000 in June (which included the transport by oxcarts), believing in the goodness of people supporting our efforts, and the hope that this is a temporary type of staff aid!

Bags of Grain

The war in the Ukraine is affecting Zimbabwe the same as the rest of the world. We in Nhimbe, see the impact in fuel, cement, and food prices, which seem to make haste to increase. When this first started happening, we jumped on it and purchased the essentials for the preschool, doubling our normal purchase. That saved us hundreds of dollars. Recently we purchased cement for well building before prices rose any further, with a plan to build the wells that your donations requested for 2022.

Due to the network issues, which haven’t been fixed from the last couple years of difficult weather, the phone and internet has been spotty, and far worse than normal. It’s made it incredibly difficult to have conversations and keep all of the discussions going that are the true core diet for our progress. We strive to clarify a myriad of details, which takes far longer without easy communication. At least we are able to stay on top of the monthly record-keeping, and are still blessed (since 2004) by our retired-banker-turned-bookkeeper, Alan, in Harare, who keeps us on track, with no stone unturned.

The current economy has been evolving, seeming to return to the hyperinflation days when the bond note (the local currency) is worth pennies. Currently, 10,000 Zim bond is worth just under $28 USD. It means that if you have USD you can maneuver a little bit, but the reality of all commodities increasing in price daily, means that one can’t get an edge, translating to the average person living at the mercy of nature and the economy, and getting smacked hard between the two…the proverbial rock and hard spot.


The Nhimbe preschool maintains steady operations and we see some extremely happy children. The parents are so grateful! Besides being the best prep in the area for going to 1st grade, the children also are receiving potentially their best meal of the day at our school! Many families are really struggling with the basics. We are counseled by the world’s spiritual leaders to feed the poor, and that is exactly what we have been able to do, with the focus on the early childhood development years. Thank you so much for the ongoing backing of the preschool!

Our Mhandara Monthly Care (MMC) maturing girls’ program is doing really great as well, and continues to expand. The local school has been sending the teens to our MMC program as a requirement for staying in school, and our director has been reaching out to the young girls living outside the Nhimbe bounds as well. This year we have distributed 360 start-up kits to new girls and are providing weekly services to far more. Here is a quick, although small group clip of a few MMC girls dancing to the marimbas in the background…all ages are invited to attend to prepare for becoming a young adult woman.

This program is such a crucial way to support both the local families, and most especially the girls in their budding personalities and visions for their life. Thank you all for however you have been assisting in this area!


We have been very blessed by volunteers over the years, and the musicians are key players on that stage! Hundreds of years of musicianship and a couple thousand hours of devotion each year makes a fantastic contribution. Even in the heat, they step up and spread joy, and it’s always an amazing journey of learning and comradery coupled with mastering what they set out to do!

You should also know about four other volunteers that keep making an enormous difference in our ability to do this work!

  • The online tech-support we receive from a retired Cincinnati judge has made me feel human again. Someone that actually knows what they are doing and can handle the persisting barrage of emails about the latest updates, makes me feel younger just thinking about it. Granted, I wrote the very first website in the 90’s and so tended to think I should stay committed…and there have been others along the way, who have helped us make leaps forward with our website, but knowing that in a quick moment someone can make sense of the weirdness that comes with the online world, is such a relief! Thank you, Guy!
  • Over the years we have had superb attention given to keeping our financial records clean and crisp. A few months ago, an extraordinary business-minded bookkeeper has come in to join our board and help us out, not just with the books, but invaluable advice about ins-and-outs. We are super excited to have her expertise (check out more about her here). She won’t be taking a tax-season hiatus and so you should always expect a fairly rapid response with your receipts for donations. We still go to the post office box on Wednesdays … do let me know if 2 weeks has gone by without us reaching out to confirm. The exception to this is if you are on a monthly auto contribution, normally we will send your receipt at the end of the year. Thank you, Heidi!
  • Our final volunteers to acknowledge are the other two unseen people behind the scenes that help handle the funds as they come in and go out. Funds from classes and in the mail go through a standard incoming and deposit routine without fail. We all are extremely grateful for that! Thank you, M’er!
  • And, the check writer, another unknown from the back office in Albany (which doubles as her quilting studio) keeps our bills paid and has been in the driver’s seat since before 2018. She takes just one more ball out of my ever-lovin’ hands and I can’t thank her enough…Hats off to you, Elle

Yes, I will be writing you before the end of the year! I just realized that four months have gone by, and hope you know that you’ve been on my mind. Sounds like a good song title! I have a sweet plan for a little series of updates about all of our Nhimbe projects. There are just too many good photos and too much to say to catch you up quickly. So, please watch for the next installment, coming to a screen near you!

Many smiles, many blessings, with much Large Love from Lacomb! Jaiaen

Maize, Marimba Huts, and Skyrocketing Prices

The Nhimbe for Progress staff families are incredibly grateful for the food assistance they have been receiving since November. We were able to purchase one ton of maize, and use it for both the staff and the preschool, saving quite a bit by buying in bulk. We got them the help they needed – when they needed it. 

Now, although they had a great looking harvest coming, the ground was sun baked by intense heat and the March’s expected green mealies, (more like our corn on the cob), are not very significant, having been damaged by the weather. That means that there is less food coming for the rest of the year, and we are all doubly grateful for the assistance now, relieving the angst about the situation!

Here is a photo of just one of the happy staff members – Shylet Mubvumbi, our Nhimbe building cleaner and cook. She has just been given her 50 kgs of maize, enough for one month. Most staff members have 7 to 8 people to feed, due to the extended family of grandparents, parents, cousins, siblings and their, children, etc. The maize is a game changer for all concerned. More photos are on their way so we can share with those of you who donated towards their sustenance.

We’ve been sharing the story about the MMC marimba hut for many moons, and we can now say that several hurdles along the way have been resolved.  Gratefully, we are back into the swing of things after several stops and starts due to Covid lock downs, and challenges with the windows.  The builders did everything possible to keep the process going, one brick at a time, while dealing with the various issues.

All windows in Zimbabwe have “burglar bars” on them.  The first time I saw that arriving in Harare, I thought I was in a really scary place, but apparently it is one of the reasons that crime is fairly low. That, and the Shona are not an aggressive sort…desperate sometimes, yes, but not a violent people.

These new windows were supposed to be like the Nhimbe preschool window bars, where the bars are used to make sun’s rays sweetly shining across the window but, amidst the other difficulties, that wasn’t a possibility.  Among other things, the fellow that made them for us was delayed by a lack of electricity that is required for welding metal, and then they were not to specs, and he needed to redo.  Now they are installed! Yay!  It looks like Shylet has done and incredible job on the multi-purpose room floor – that is quite a shine.

Watching these fellows build is always interesting.  The walls go up in a circle, which in itself seems quite complicated.  Wire is used to hold windows and doors in place.  Once the walls are established, the plastering can go over the bricks to protect and seal out the weather.  You can see by the color variation which bricks were just laid.

I love the ladder technique…building in a very traditionally Zimbabwean resourceful way.  They work well together giving teamwork a new meaning.  The fellow on the ground is handling all of the movement around the building, making sure the brick layer can just keep on.  Behind the go‘fer guy below, you see a bit of firewood for the preschool cooking, and the rest of the bricks.  The bricks are all made within our villages and more people have begun to produce them to generate some income.

Just like the rest of the world, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is shaking up the economy and the countenance of Zimbabwe.  Muda comments that he and his generation haven’t really seen effects of world affairs so directly on their economy before this. Mostly inflation has come from internal processes. Now he sees the connection to the world at large.

Two days ago, the petrol prices had just jumped with another increase on its way.  Once petrol increases, so does everything.  We have taken what funds are available, and have purchased two terms of food for the preschool right away, while we wait and watch the prices on everything rise.  Muda says everyone begins scrambling to stock up with what funds they have. Also, petrol starts showing up on the parallel market, where its illegal to buy, but it is a normal part of the economic reality.

Thank you again for listening in, and tuning your dial to our frequency.  The work is ongoing and the various obstacles never ending.  But the Zimbabwean people are tenacious and resilient…most people I know would fade in the face of these kinds of concerns – continued lack of food, an unstable economy for decades, the fabric of their society’s traditions being threatened, and many of the best doctors and teachers having left to find work elsewhere, to name a few.

We all appreciate everything that you have done and continue to do, to support the upliftment of the children and the community at large.  You are amazing! 

Tatenda Chaizvo!

p.s. We have sent tax receipts out in 2021, pretty much as your donations arrived.  If it ended up in spam or otherwise in the inbox abyss, please feel free to reach out and we will resend!

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!


2021 Year End Gratitude!

Thank you again for the continued support of Nhimbe for Progress through your positive thoughts, encouraging words and your generous donations, all of which have a direct affect on the future of the Mhondoro residents!

2021 is almost over and there is still time for fully tax-deductible donations. I’m moved on a regular basis by the larger spiritual backing, which keeps this all moving forward, because you and I, by ourselves, are not the bigger agenda.  When I’m troubled and can’t see the way forward, I keep turning it back to them, the Allies, whether that is all of our ancestors, the angels, the forces of Large Love emanating through God, or whatever (I work at not limiting this unlimited and indescribable grace). I remind them that they started this work, and they are responsible to keep it moving along nicely!  Its easy to get overwrought with concern when I put myself in someone else’s shoes, so just need to keep redirecting to clarify what is actually involved in transformation and change.  We just each do our part!

One of the incredible feats this year (among many) was your response when the villages were impacted by Cyclone Eloise.  At first, we thought we just needed to repair the Community Center so that school, MMC and other activities could continue.  But then, we realized that 22 families lost their wells due to the continued storms and pounding rain.  Through your assistance we were able to rebuild these wells in short order.  This is something great that ripples…it’s not just that they can get water for daily activities, but the health of each family member feels this lifestyle change.  Thank you for all the ways you contribute…Tatenda Chaizvo.

Isaac has introduced us to this resident whose family has benefited from Nhimbe for Progress services in Mhondoro, Zimbabwe since the beginning of our work there. Ancient Ways began this project in 2000, and has provided many programs to uplift the people since then.  In this video Tafanei Nyamainashe, from the Gore village, is explaining in Shona that he wants to thank Nhimbe for all of the assistance. His family started receiving help when huts were being built, school fees being paid for the children, along with uniforms for the students, and now, he has a well.  He wants to thank Nhimbe, and says “may you continue assisting us all!” 

We all appreciate that sentiment!  Thank you again for how you contribute to their lives, and to my life enriching the work into which I’ve chosen to put my creativity and Large Love.  I hope you know that thousands of people are all blessed by your generosity of spirit.  Each village resident’s life is enhanced in untold ways, which touches all of their extended family members throughout Zimbabwe and other places in the world. Watch for stories about these families, coming in 2022.

If you haven’t read the annual letters, here is a link to get you started, and if you haven’t yet donated  please feel free here!  Thank you all so much and have a wonderful and safe new year!

Marimba Playing Plus+ to Resume!

With Covid-19 lockdowns many of our regular Nhimbe activities were stalled during their winter, recently ending. Everything is getting back into the spring swing of things.
In particular, we agreed to build a marimba hut at our last board meeting in June. All of the cement and bricks, which are the most expensive parts, were purchased and ready to go, but then everything stopped. Plus, the wildfire took out the playground about that time. So, now we are picking up various pieces and getting back on track.

Muda took the medical gowns that we were obligated to buy last January and was able to sell them. What a relief! The regulation for school use was put in place out of anxiety rather than science, and even though we had a feeling they wouldn’t be used, we still had to purchase them. He was able to get the full $700 back, which has gone into the hut building projects.

We had agreed to build a larger library, since our current one is tiny and loaded, as well as a marimba hut, since the current housing situation doesn’t provide adequate ventilation. Both huts are large to accommodate better spacing with the students.

It all starts with bricks made by the local builders creating the foundation.

The next layers are set at a different angle and the wall begins.

School continues in the midst, and the walls are showing spaces for the door and windows.

The design includes the long windows like we have at the preschool and more of them than normal.

Muda is returning to Mhondoro now that Cosmas’ ceremony was completed October 2nd. He had returned to Harare and took a couple days to recoup, so now is ready to head out of the city, and help Febby organize the way forward.

There are many projects to manage in a short time. The fence building is waiting for the official steps to complete with the local councilors (many thanks to you for your support on that), MMC and marimba are in the mix for our young girls, these two new huts are being built, and soap is being distributed hopefully in the very near future. All of this while the preschool is actively operational and everyone is delighted to be back at it!
Thank you so much for your continued interest and financial support throughout our evolution!

Many Thanks to Your Generosity!

Since we were awarded additional Community Center land by Chief Nherera, we are now blessed to have a space for the children’s outside activities. We knew it would cost $6,400 to cover the fence and equipment for this space, and now with only just over $300 we will have met the goal! Thank you!

I am amazed and touched by how you have come through for us, time and time again! The wild fire was so unexpected and left us all with our heads spinning…we’ve never had such a challenge before. Everyone is so grateful that we are on the mend!

Rolls and rolls…

If you were hoping to help us with this, now is a great time. We have allocated all unexpected funds received since the fire, which were identified as “greatest need” or specifically for the preschool, and would love to finish this fundraising step, so that our annual budget can stay firmly intact for running the regular programs.

Muda is in Mhondoro working overtime to take care of Nhimbe business as well as being with the family as they prepare for Cosmas’ special ceremony, the kurova guva, coming up next weekend. We will have more Nhimbe updates forthcoming, but for now I wanted to share our simple rolls-of-fencing photo. It’s very exciting growth!

Just prior to the fire, in our June board meeting, we had agreed to build two new huts, one for marimba, and one for the library to grow. Cement was purchased in Harare, bricks were delivered by the local donkey cart, and the foundation started. These huts were first held up by the COVID lock-down, and then by the penetrating attention that the fire had imposed.

After Cosmas’ ceremony we will be able to share more about all of the work being done, as well as get an update about the routine school and MMC activities going on with the youth and their well-being. The children and staff are both elated to be back to their educational focus…everyone there really understands that education equals empowerment. I’m a big advocate for more and complete information in every way with a vision that it would stop all war…simplistic. Thank you for your commitment as we work through the process of bringing you the latest…your support is greatly appreciated.

We are within close reach of our required target so please, if you are able, we are grateful. Either the side bar donation box, or the store link works well (we have done website repairs and are extremely happy to share that it is now a frustration-FREE operation). Accolades to our new tech volunteer from Cincinnati!

Thank you!

We Need Your Help Now!

We are making lemonade out of the lemons!

As you know our Nhimbe preschool yard was consumed by a run-away fire across the bush at the beginning of July.  Not only did the aged wooden play structures burn, but the Magaya homestead of Joshua and Matilda also suffered.  In both instances, gratefully the fire was put out before any buildings were ruined.

Our preschool has just reconvened after a June-to-August Covid lock-down, so now we have children back to the daily routine as of the beginning of September.  We continue to offer a partial stipend to help our staff deal with being laid-off periodically since March of 2020.

Sadly the charred ground can’t be used by the children but will be great for garden expansion.

In the midst of this, we have some really excellent news about a new playground area. Chief Nherera has awarded us an adjacent plot of land for our long-term educational purposes, that doubles the Nhimbe Community Center grounds.  This can include future expansion for self-sustainability business activities, as well as additional learning opportunities. 

On the opposite side of the Nhimbe Community Center, a humanitarian organization from Taiwan, Tzu Chi, bought their stand for $5,000 not all that long ago. This Buddhist organization wants to build an agricultural training center to house 23 huts, and is like us in that they are not bringing a focus of religion, but have the underlying goal to bring relief from suffering.

We have graciously been blessed by the Chief because of our history of devoted service since 2000.  To be granted this stand (plot of land) for no fee is absolutely incredible!  The Chief has been in ill health, and although he is now improving, he is elderly and we are fortunate to have his favor.  

Playing wheelbarrow is a popular activity that helps to learn enormous coordination.

What we do face are fencing costs plus new playground equipment, which are both outside of any budget projected for 2021, as any fire like this is quite unexpected. After Muda researched competitive bids and skillfully negotiated labor costs over this last month, we now know that the fence fully installed is $6,000, and the poles and materials for the playground repairs and installation is comparatively a mere $400. 

The new fence will match the existing fence in size, being two meters tall.  We have chosen to not add the barbed-wire for the additional two feet on top, since at this point we foresee theft being a non-issue.  If we ever add buildings to this just-over one-acre parcel, then we would want to consider the added barbed barrier to deter unwanted entry.  The existing Nhimbe gate will provide passage for the children to the play area.  There will be an additional gate installed for public access. 

Lined-up so nicely to get in the front gate.

The replacement materials list is simple and includes colorful paints, nails, cement, poles, 8 tires, swing bars and chains, a climbing frame and monkey bars (metal this time).  This will all be installed in the new area along with whatever is salvageable from the original playground.  

Taking the temperatures with our infrared thermometer.

Please consider donating to help us solve this dilemma! Particularly with Covid-19 and the serious curtailing of normal life, the more the children can be outside for their normal activities as well as other “classroom” time, the better off everyone will be.  This new space will certainly give them that! 

This chigubhu, pumps the water with a foot pedal, by tipping the water container, sanitizing hands at the start of the day.

By going to the Donate or Shop item on the menu, find Preschool – Use for the Greatest Need under the EDUCATION section.  Any amount you are able to contribute towards this $6,400 goal is greatly appreciated by everyone involved.  The parents in Mhondoro, the staff, as well as all of us here who hold these Nhimbe preschoolers with arms of Large Love, thank you in advance for whatever you can do!

Hopefully more updates to come soon!

Community Center Fire and Gratefully No One Injured!

Just a quick report here, as we don’t have all the information, but there has been a fire affecting the Nhimbe for Progress Community Center.


Fortunately, as far as we know, no one in the area was injured. The Center was unoccupied at the time, but Isaac, in charge of Building and Maintenance, lives nearby and saw the smoke rising. Moving quickly, he arrived, got out our hoses, and began to put out the fire.


We don’t have the entire story, but apparently a neighboring resident had a fire that got out of control, and it burned all the way through our playground and newly expanded garden area, but was stopped before damaging any thatch or huts. We are very grateful. Hallelujah for the bore hole, hoses, and Isaac!

Isaac off to the left with only metal structures standing behind him.

We should have a full report in a couple of days. The current situation is that the preschool playground will need to be rebuilt in another location, and a different area used for just running and playing in the meantime, since the grassy area is now quite a sooty problem for the children.


The new garden expansion area was damaged (the new 14 rows established last year), so replanting will be needed, but the original 10 rows closer to the buildings started in 2019 are gratefully still in tact!

Much of the new garden expansion has been crisped.

Thank you for your interest and concern…we appreciate however you might help us tackle this new hurdle…we will follow up with more details as they come in. Tatenda Chaizvo!

These banana trees are singed badly but will most likely come out of it with time.

How are things in Mhondoro?

Thank you for your patience while we work with the issues on the ground. I have been slow to update you on the story, as there have been many developments. I prefer less emails and so assume you do too ;*))


The 12 collapsed wells from the recent Cyclone Eloise, were found to be 22 in total – the word comes in slowly through the bush.  We were able to rebuild them all, and also able to complete the needed repairs at the Community Center, so that school started as required. Thank you for your amazing generosity in helping us getting through that incredibly rough time!


Everyone affected by the cyclone now has a new well, and is enormously grateful for your support. If we did not intervene like this, then what?  There are no other agencies, organizations, what-have-you, that assist in this area with these kinds of life impacting problems.


Clean water is even more important now with Covid-19 still a concern. In fact, they are currently going into winter, and everyone is on alert for further outbreaks.  We are scheduling our next soap distribution right away in alignment with our Covid-19 intervention strategy.  We were forced to skip a distribution because of the lock-down (they literally stayed hut bound), so I’m sure everyone will be very pleased. Nothing like soap to alter one’s lifestyle!

In June, we also plan to move into repainting the well lids. Three developments over the last year have left the well tops without our ‘brand’.  First, do you recall the lid repairs we did when we found irregularities compromising water sanitation and potential safety?  That affected the well tops.  Then, the deepening process that we did during the drought, also changed the looks of things. Of course, the most recent rebuilding efforts due to Cyclone Eloise rainfall created entirely new wells. Granted, the well itself is functional without painting, but there are at least three aspects that make it worth that $6 to paint each lid.

  • First, seeing the name gives the residents of the home a connection to the family on the other side of the world who cared enough to lend them a hand. 
  • Then, it gives a fresh face to the top of the lid.  The Shona appreciate making improvements to their homes that signify progress. And, paint does preserve the cement.
  • Lastly, it is a sign of being part of the Nhimbe community…it is a way to say, “Yes, we are part of this team!”  Building an alliance among the villagers has been part of our key to success over the years.  You know, like our neighborhood watch, and similar groups, can help everyone feel less isolated and more bonded with their neighbors.


We have a new design for the lids (no pictures yet) that incorporates the Nhimbe and Ancient Ways logo, which is another step towards formality that helps substantiate us in the “real” world.  We could work under the radar for years, the way we did in the beginning as a club, and never be acknowledged or be seen, so just remain ominously invisible. 


During the Mugabe reign, the Nhimbe for Progress name came up in Parliament more than once, when our dear Chief Nherera reported on what was “going on” in his area.  So, we’ve been around the block, and are still standing, so we might as well step up and into the next phase of our evolution.

The Zimbabwean school system’s terms are turned on their ear, just like our educational approaches here.  We have purchased supplies and food for the second time this year and so that part of our schedule is regular.  The children are meeting, as are the MMC girls on Fridays after school.  

Thoroughly enjoying the music!

Marimba classes continue, as does the sewing training.  The MMC girls are participating in a “service project” plus learning more about sewing. 

The end results are stuffed toys for the preschool children, which they can use for the preschooler curriculum.

Everyone is happy to be back to a routine, although nothing is really normal, except a modified social distancing, mask wearing, and increased hygiene.  We have just produced 11 batches (for 15 girls each, so 165 new girls) of MMC supplies, and so it feels really great to be moving forward again!


I know it’s hard to look at pictures where their standards of distancing are different than ours, but its much like everything we do there…its all within the cultural norms, which we are not going to change.

The youngest girls get to attend also!

The MMC girls and the preschool continue to use the library on a regular basis, as do the community members.  The library hut was one of the buildings that was seriously damaged by the torrential rains. 

The teachers have taken the time to organize everything and get things put back into a good order.  It’s really looking spectacular!

The small bookcase in front was normally in the Annex.
That way the preschoolers had their very own library area.

Vaccines are available, although this article speaks of availability issues.  In the beginning, people were wary of the source being from China, and so didn’t want to jump on board.  After all, the batteries and ink pens that are imported never last more than a couple weeks, so it didn’t seem like the reliable option.  There are free local vaccines available nearby, but it appears to be a personal choice without repercussions.  There may be a requirement for all front-line workers to be vaccinated, but at this point there isn’t. 


There is new legislation now to get money into the hands of our team.  Western Union has a new requirement forcing all monies to be deposited in a particular bank.  The savings account that is needed doesn’t have fees, at this point, so that is superb, but they have a limitation of only withdrawing $500 a week.  This is problematic since we have been spending well over that, for all of 2021. 


Muda says that the bank manager will work with us if we need to withdraw more funds, even though the new legal requirement is just $500.  It makes me nervous…anything imposing on my freedom, and I get a little testy.  He suggests not to worry, and my instinct is to push the envelope right away, to see if it really is going to be restrictive.  He also reminds me that safety issues from walking around with larger quantities will be ameliorated. 


We are a good team and complement each other’s style.  So, within the month we should know what this new regulation means.  At worst, it appears that it would only slow down the work we are doing.  The school could still operate, but we wouldn’t be as free to think outside of the box.  Like for instance, this month, the solar inverter just went haywire unexpectedly.  The estimate on that is $450.  Its those kinds of things that will push us over our $500 limit super fast.  Muda is already traveling back and forth to the rural area, so hopefully we can come up with a work around.


We have continued to send $2,995 at a time, once or twice a month, to avoid any flagging when hitting the 3k marker.  That has been an issue in the past for some of the smaller non-profits.  And, we continue to use Western Union as it has proven the best over the long haul.  A few years ago, wiring became impossible, and bank fees can be exorbitant. But, if you know of a better way to get money over there with less of a financial burden, please feel free to write, or call!  We always appreciate community dialogues.

Thank you for your help with navigating this terrain.  Your continued commitment gives me resolve to hang in there even when the expenses are mounting and there aren’t easy answers to the issues at hand.  You do make all the difference!


May you enjoy the summer months, opening their arms and welcoming you, like an unfolding flower radiating friendship! 


Tatenda Chaivzo!


We expect to discontinue our African fabric mask making in the near future.  If you, or someone you know, needs a final mask or two, please let us know and we can still accommodate!  Thank you for all of your support over this last year!

Cyclone Eloise Brings Big Damage to Nhimbe

Long story short: In late January this year, Cyclone Eloise, breaking loose in Mozambique and all over Southern African, stimulated a ripple of storms bringing torrential rains to Mhondoro destroying and damaging crops, structures, and wells on its path, while the Covid-19-variants lock-down left repairs at a standstill. 


Being quite paralyzed by the combined onslaught, our Team has just now completed the first round of repairs requiring thousands of dollars.  Nhimbe Preschool is returning to business as usual with masks etc. following the government guidelines, opening for school this last week. MMC also kicked off the 2021 year with much joy, just a little later than usual.  Under their masks, the teachers and cooks engaged all ages of children with much enthusiasm after the 3-month hiatus.  Everyone is so relieved!


These unexpected events have put a large dent in this year’s budget.  If you are able, please extend a hand to our residents and the Nhimbe Community Center! CLICK HERE for the webpage donate page…THANK YOU!

Enjoying their Nhimbe meal!
Practicing Social Distancing and Masks – MMC Begins for 2021!

The lock-down for the Covid-19 variants was strictly enforced by police, traveling only allowed with special papers. These restrictions made for minimal progress. Also, the storms had done incredible damage to the network, so that phones, emails and texting were severely crippled and are not yet back to “normal”, which in Zimbabwe, is historically under par.  The minimum required building restorations were done just in time for the preschool reopening date last week:

    • kitchen corner wall
  • Several Nhimbe Community Center huts cracked from the excessive water and have been repaired successfully.
  • One hut was non-repairablewith deep cracks and breaks, and is still needing to be entirely rebuilt, which will run near $500.
  • Our library window was broken by the winds and has now been replaced.

See the Two toilets collapsed at Nhimbe Community Center.

Then the Health Inspector “pegged” the new toilet locations. For those of you who remember hearing about Standreck (Tichaona), one of the best dancers I’ve ever known, he is there looking on in the video (and looking great!)

Beginning the new toilets
The Community Center Annex has holes in the roof due to the thatch blowing off.

In this video, check out the interior walls, and then the shot of the roof shows light coming in, meaning water does too. This building gives different ages spaces to learn. Also the precious marimbas are stored here.


The multi-purpose room here also has damage.


The grass had grown so high from the continual rains and warm weather that a special effort was needed to hand-sickle the entire grounds. Check out the before and after pictures.


12 wells collapsed and are being rebuilt.  Normally we would wait for donations to build wells each year, but this was an emergency and so took it on without the specially allocated funding – we are hoping for your help:

  • Many wells were built for the elderly residents who are living solo, and without the means to rebuild a well, or transport water.
  • I recall during our 2018 trip, there were 3 people over 100 years old, who passed away during our stay! If they live close to the land and stay in the rural area, chances are they will live long and healthy lives.
  • Bringing comfort, hygiene, and reassurance to these residents is just “so basic”.


More gum pole failures. Most of the play structures have become weakened and unsafe.  The parents are pitching in their time to rebuild this play area!

We have realized the new team really needs our well-building supervisor duties to expand, to receive a monthly compensation to cover all building and security.  This will support our Co-Directors as they both live offsite, with Muda routinely visiting from Harare, and Febbie teaching Monday to Friday, but not being present otherwise, unless needed, living in Chibikira.  The guards can now report to Isaac Maodzeka, as do all building crews.  Isaac has been with us since the beginning. He is happy to be reinstated to his original post, which he had prior to the 2008-09 marketing collapse that was coupled with impact of the Zim-dollarization.

We have transferred an unusually large amount of funds for the beginning of the year (a near $9,000 since January) and truly appreciate anything you are able to contribute to the healing of this community.  Besides the crops, each family suffered damages to their personal residence.  Rather than just more normal requests for new preschool baking pans, garden shovels, and the like, the Cyclone impact to our Community Center has been sizeable, doing more harm than we had seen since my first trip in 2000.


Between the time Cosmas and I made our proverbial “to-do laundry list” in November ’99, and my first trip early March 2000, Cyclone Eline destroyed huts and ravaged many homesteads.  We were able to re-establish huts for over 40 residences during that next year or two.  These efforts shaped a foundation for this Nhimbe for Progress framework.  The last 20 years have seen much in the way of “action”, but nothing with quite this much damage from storms, since that February 2000 cyclone.


Thank you for your continued support over the years for these neighbors of ours on the opposite side of the planet.  As a people, they have much endurance and resilience.  You teach them about hope and re-imagining their lives.  They already are a highly spiritual people, but your continued assistance helps encourage and cement that “trusting of the process”…we all can use reinforcement on that!


You do make the difference! Always feel free to reach out and ask questions or just chime in with your ideas!


  CLICK HERE to go to the website. Tatenda Chaizvo!