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 ;*))

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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

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Tatenda Chaivzo!

P.S.

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. 

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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!

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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.

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The multi-purpose room here also has damage.

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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.

  • GRASS BEFORE

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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  CLICK HERE to go to the website. 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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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

One More Day in 2020 to Make the Nhimbe Difference!

We are always grateful for your support in our cooperative endeavors!  At year end, as we organize for the following 12 month’s efforts, your contribution not only gets you a fully taxable donation, but also helps us with our planning.

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 Its during this time we work with our partners in Mhondoro and sketch out what they want, and what you are telling us we can do. We all very much appreciate knowing that we have your ongoing assistance in whatever way makes sense to you.  Time, money, prayers, telling our story, imagination, collaboration…it all helps!  Thank you to those who have remembered us this year...and thank you in advance for helping us pave the way forward with more than just intention!

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Here is a quick recap of what we continue to focus upon:

This is one of my favorite videos of 2020 ... what a blessing this windmill has been!  The sound of the pump is like a lullaby to my ears.  I know, sounds odd, right?.  But imagine camping in the desert for years and coming upon water gushing forth from the earth and the sound of this little gadget, singing away, as the anthem. It is only because its a bore hole (rather than a well) that we have water during this multiple year drought. Looking forward to buying drip-line to finish off the newly prepared beds, putting this fountain to work!

Because of the borehole and windmill, they were able to expand the little garden.  The guards took it up as their pet project when everything starting going sideways earlier in the year.  And, they are being steadfast during their off time (each with 10 days off, 10 days on) to keep it developing.

This ambuya (grandmother) is Eflida, and the eldest of Cosmas’ siblings.  In her 70’s, her profound appreciation for walking up to a faucet is immense.  In most places in the townships, faucets are in every home, but usually outside on a sink next to the toilet room.  To have a faucet in the rural area is an amazing thing. Efilda began with Nhimbe in 2000 and continues in her original role, in charge of the comings and goings of all inventory. 

We completed the deepenings for 74 families last year and will continue on into 2021.  This family above, who just got a new well sponsored in 2019, had plenty of water to begin, but the drought continued to take its toll, and although a recent well, even they too need to deepen! It has become dire. Thank you for your help with this recognition that water is life!

This is my absolute favorite photo of all year.  It warms the cockles of my heart. I love that they are working as part of our larger team, helping a family get water by deepening a well. There is something quite touching about them working together for progress, in this way as a couple.  Granted, at the end of a long day, she most likely puts in another couple of hours handling the mealtime, etc, but then again, maybe they can afford to buy firewood instead of her gathering it, hire a maid to help at the home, and/or pay for someone to help weed the field?  In any case, who knows the whole story...I just love this photo!

We continue to engage our preschoolers with early childhood education as well as feed them with the same dedication that we began with in 2002.  Success comes in small packages. Thank you for your part of this!

We have 3 teachers outside of Nhimbe who trained with us for several of our Teen Care camps and had started their own Mhandara Monthly Care groups for their maturing girls, over the last couple of years.  They attended our distribution event in November where 45 girls received supplies.  We will continue to support these other teacher's efforts with start-up kits and education this coming year.  This is an incredible program!  Check out what $18 can buy! Plus the Nhimbe girls are playing marimba, thanks to you!

Covid Intervention was an unexpected part of Nhimbe’s evolution in 2020.  If you haven’t looked at what was accomplished, or the why/how of it, take a peek.  Febbie Shava, the new co-director, is sharing the mask making.  She has been a large, but sometimes hidden, team player for soooo very long and now gets to step up and be even a bigger part of our successes.

These are the key people that are taking Nhimbe to new levels of achievement as we move into 2021: the well building supervisor, guards, cooks, cleaner, inventory, teachers, librarian, marimba teacher, and our new co-directors. No picture here of the man behind the curtain (in Harare instead of Oz), our 80-something-but-whose-counting accountant, who holds all the pieces together. 

We all extend you profound gratitude as we end 2020 with prayers for 2021 unfolding in grace and guidance, affording all the best that progress can offer. May the new year bring you only joy and peace!

Tatenda Chaizvo! (We thank you very much!)

Mhondoro Update and New 3-D Masks!

The new 3-D mask has been extremely well received, with a sense of more air available (less confining), better facial fit around the edges with a nice nose piece, beautiful craftsmanship, as well as a lovely array of designs woven into high-quality cloth.  Newly donated and purchased fabrics have found their way to the volunteers to wash, and then sew, sew, sew. They are available very soon in many fresh African patterns and colors!  Same unbelievable deal ... these masks, all yours on a donation basis, help us to raise awareness, funds to continue work in Mhondoro, and help you stay safe too! Thank you! 

We remain working in Zimbabwe…detailed updates are forthcoming, but for now, the quick report:

  • Our Nhimbe for Progress Team is fully in place, engaged, and brain-cracking to pull together the nuts, bolts, and washers from 20 years of experience in just over one month.  You may remember that Patricia left Nhimbe to follow her soul’s calling at the beginning of October.  Now, our renovated, renewed and revamped Nhimbe ship has left the harbor with an incredible new team, and we are underway!
  • School has reopened in Zimbabwe, and our MMC program officially started on 11/6 with almost half the girls in attendance, after a 7-month hiatus.  Again, we will be teaching about their bodies, providing supplies, but this time also learning about Covid-19. 
  • On 11/9 the Nhimbe for Progress preschool reopened its doors with similar numbers of about half the norm in attendance, also learning about masks and social distancing.  We are encouraging a healthy discussion with the Ministry’s health inspector, because World Health Organization protocol does not require those under 5 years-old to wear masks, but our staff was trying to implement stringent requirements, as they are for MMC.  Guidelines are unclear in the country, and our staff is doing everything they can for safety, including using two new infrared thermometers as part of our protocols, as well as giving all children masks.  We hope to get this sorted in the next few days.
  • After completing well deepenings for 43 families so far this year, the outcry is for more help! We just approved a budget for another 29 or so wells, to be deepened before the end of the year. Today we bought over $1,000 of cement, 14,000 bricks, and hired those with the shovels to help all of the families, since the depth is far beyond anything seen before. The rain is slowly coming, so that is letting them get digging.  Water levels have plummeted particularly in the last 2 years, so water availability has become the most pressing issue of the day.

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Thank you for your dedicated support!  We continue to operate the preschool per our normal high standards, as well as MMC with the addition of teaching mask-making for their current craft project.  We also are pushing hard and fast to get the wells deepened now, before the impending summer rains fall.  The 7 elderly without water have become the priority.  This is the immediate focus with the other 22 or so to follow. 

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We remain grateful and optimistic as you reach out, and continue to remember us! We all very much appreciate whatever you have been able to do, either financially to assist, or with your time.  There are 3 essential areas needing volunteers - please email Jaiaen

  • We have a real need for technical website and higher-end computer assistance, either on a one-time project basis or for the longer term. There are some exciting opportunities here.  Do get in touch!
  • Also, someone who can offer general office expertise using the computer and Microsoft would also help return some sanity to the nature of reality, since many extra functions have multiplied, much like rabbits, particularly over the last several months, with the loss of Cosmas, as well as the introduction of Covid-19.
  • Locally in the mid-valley, we really would love for someone to oversee the masks, which are being sewn by a couple of lovely ladies, as they find their way into your home (the masks, not the seamstresses)  ;*))

You do make the difference!  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 Zimbabwe.

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

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

Click the arrow on the video to play Planting Covo Cuttings

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

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

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

Diki Diki (little) Message from Zimbabwe!

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

 

Marimba lessons this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They grow them big here!  

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

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

Good night from our front door to yours! 

Upcoming Trip/Permaculture Update

First I want to thank all of you who have either contributed directly to airfare or the financial energy to support this trip! It started with us looking for volunteers, and then a couple of you responding, knowing that the airfare is a burden for a volunteer to be able to offer both the time and the money. Now we have three committed members of the team in addition to myself, ticketed and ready to go! Wow!

Here I wanted to share what we'll be on the ground doing within that first week. We are bringing two instructors from Zambia to share their successful drip irrigation protocol. They will bring drip line, fittings, and the basics to make this system work. They have been implementing this approach in Bulawayo where the water is even more difficult to obtain. These pictures are from their work there.

Its all about the gravity feed!
We buy the poles and buckets to make the table top reservoir that will feed each hose.
They provide the drip irrigation and teach more about raised beds.
Covo (traditional greens like chard or spinach) and tomatoes are being grown here.
Check out that tomato production!
Onions are also a favorite.
The mulching of the middle rows is a standard permaculture practice that they will teach.
This is an incredible harvest for any area!
From big plants to little ones, this technique works!
The lower leaves of this older Covo are being harvested.

Manually buckets of water are poured into the large 5 gallon bucket. Through the gravity feed the water is taken to the end of the row giving just enough water for plant health.

We are excited to implement this at the preschool garden. We will be starting with a small system of 30 meters. Tune in for an update in a couple of weeks!

This kind of prosperous gardening could turn the preschool into a self-sufficient operation in a matter of time. Purchasing the drip line is the primary expense in the operation. Thank you for the special help with these projects.

We Are Accomplishing So Much!

Greetings from rural Zimbabwe... by this salutation I'm not suggesting we are on the ground there with "the children of the soil", but we have some great reports to share from them!

Thank you for your continued support of our vision and mission for 2019. Your partnership is a key ingredient and we can't do it without you!

We hope that you feel our team's efforts to uplift everyone! The obvious recipients are the youth, but the parents and families in the community are deeply touched by our outreach. They are so grateful to be collaborating with us in this effort, as the children are an extremely vulnerable population. Maturing girls are at a tender age and many do not have mothers, or aunties, or grandmothers, so our Mhandara program becomes like a member of the family.

Nhimbe is honored to have 15 regulars and 11 volunteers who keep the wheels of progress moving for all of our programs there. The focus over the Memorial Day weekend was the Mhandara Monthly Care (MMC) program where 230 girls gathered at the Nhimbe Community Center located in rural Mhondoro. This included girls from a near dozen schools.

Thanks to smartphones and Whatsapp we can learn how things are going along from the village perspective...and quite quickly! Please take the time to relax and enjoy the videos over a cup of your favorite beverage!

How do you corral and care for 230 girls? Structure and fun. The various parts of the MMC Teen Care Camp (ideally happening 3 times a year) keep the girls stimulated and focused. This is our first 2019 camp so far this year, as we enter the second term in the education system there. All ages are welcome, but the very youngest normally belong to one of the staff.

The beginning of the hike into the bush

The days are packed with activities:

  • Of course, there is always music!
  • A specially chosen elder is brought in to share women's wisdom with the girls.
  • They spend time in food prep, cooking and cleaning, as well as take a few minutes for exercise as a formal game of netball or stretching.
  • They have an opportunity to go for a walk in the bush, which wouldn't be safe for a girl to wander by herself. This is incredible to be able to indulge in the nature of their home area - just like us going for a walk in the mountains here in the Pacific coast.
Knowing very little Shona I can only make out that they sing about Girl Guides (our sister organization to Girl Scouts), shamwari (friends) and mwoyo or moyo (heart).

We began a partnership with Girl Guides in Harare around 2006. They gave us great structure to get the programs off the ground. Of course we have embellished and enhanced the program to meet our needs, specifically focusing on MMC, which is so basic and paramount.

That same year we printed up t-shirts which you see are still holding up. They use them while at the Center and then they get washed and returned. That was quite an undertaking...I remember buying bolts of t-shirt fabric in various colors and organizing with a printer, all during hyperinflation when you never knew what the next day would bring. I'm amazed that the t-s are still functional and colorful.

Back to the Nhimbe Community Center!
Great fun with the older children teaching the dance lesson!
Even the very youngest are encouraged to whole-heartedly bring themselves to the music as leaders!
Drumming up some fun while waiting for a meal. Many girls are in the kitchen!
The Meal Queue
Fortunate is one of our leaders for the girls as well as a preschool teacher. She has several of her own children, and has been with us for many years. Very dedicated, always enthusiastic and an incredible singer!
Many girls do not normally eat this well at their homes due to poverty.
Relaxing in the shade...wonderful!
Some stretches as part of learning about their bodies and exercise.
We are very blessed to have this retired teacher take an interest in our program! Although you can't hear anything of what is being said, you can see that she is a good teacher and very interested in these girls! She gave a lot and ask for nothing.
Story telling and metaphors are a huge part of Shona culture. This song is all about being completely frank about their bodies and explaining to the boy's and men's advances just exactly where not to touch them.
The bottom line is telling them "don't touch here, here and here" quite literally!
This is a song about power. Note the girl's with their buckets. These buckets come as part of the start-up kits although I see they make a good drum also! At the camp, thirty girls just received the bucket, soap, 3 pair underwear and their re-usable washable supplies (made by our team!) along with a sewing kit to learn to make a small purse, making our efforts potentially far more sustainable.

Thanks for tuning in!

Thanks to your donations we are moving and shaking, and these maturing girls are blessed by your help.

Always feel free to write or call with questions, answers, and encouragement. If you have any ideas on how we can source further financial backing to let us reach more girls, we know what we are doing and we do it well. And, there is so much need.

Tatenda Chaizvo!

May Announcements – Here and in Zimbabwe!

Thank you for your incredible support again this year as we remain focused on our work in rural Zimbabwe.  Second term brings much activity:

  • The preschool re-opens with purchases of supplies and food for another 13 weeks,  There are 59 little ones, with more coming each day, all being fed a nutritious meal (often their main meal).  These children are being supported in early childhood development as well as being prepared for 1st grade in the Zimbabwean educational system. The preschool staff includes teachers, cooks, housekeeping, grounds-keeping and guards to assure the children's space provides a safe, clean and nurturing learning environment. The government officials consider Nhimbe a model preschool!
  • The Mhandara Monthly Care (MMC) program continues to manufacture and distribute start-up kits in 2019 for all the new maturing girls.  Each kit's cost of buckets and underwear has increased since our estimate last fall when we wrote the year-end letter.  We never know when the economy will be stable and when not, but we hold the vision and keep making headway!  We have just produced 30 kits for our first 2 batches, which will be distributed very soon at the upcoming Teen Care Camp.
  • The MMC Teen Care Camp is planned for May 24th-26th.  260 girls are expected and arriving on foot from quite some distances.  We provide a vehicle to pickup their bed roll and other gear at their various schools, where they all congregate before leaving.  Arriving Friday, they are able to stay at the Nhimbe Community Center (with those great solar lights!) until Sunday, when they hoof it back home after the incredibly unprecedented opportunity for learning, healing and growing.  There are a minimum of 11 adults that are present to keep everything moving smoothly.  The girls are involved in every step of food prep and cleanup, as well as participating in many activities, including music, mentoring by the elders, and much in the way of interpersonal discussions of intimate teen care.
  • The MMC program (the Start-up kits, the Teen Care Camp and weekly meetings) are helping to keep these girls in school each month, and making a huge difference in their lives.  For example, they learn about personal hygiene and the difficult subjects of dealing with boys and peers.  The girls learn crafts, such as sewing, to be able to make their own monthly care supplies someday.
  • Both the preschool and the MMC program need soccer balls!  We hold strong in the belief that the Right to Play is of enormous value in children's "normal" development, physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.  Research has found that play is the key to children surviving the hardships of chronic economic issues and the displacement and relocation of continual transient populations.  Please consider a special donation towards this unique need.  Typically because of the rough terrain a normal ball doesn't last, but we have had help locating one for $25.  Shipping is another issue, particularly if we can send more than one.  With this number of children playing together, one ball would not suffice.  Thank you in advance if you have an interest in encouraging play!
  • Thank you for any ways you might be able to help us with these heartening and supportive efforts, as we intervene in these children's lives.  We remain consistent and faithful to the task at hand and ask for your assistance once again to reach out across the planet to our Zimbabwean neighbors.

Our music ensembles here in the mid-Willamette Valley are playing their part in fund raising, as they hit the streets earlier this year than normal, beginning in March.  They are out there raising money for the Nhimbe youth programs and are enjoying watching the summer fill up with play.

Please join us at our next event in Alsea, Oregon, Sunday the 12th, as we make our annual pilgrimage to the Thyme Garden for their Mother's Day weekend.  Find us engaged in the music near the herb nursery, where there is a huge selection of plants for sale. We offer the uplifting marimba music from Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well as original tunes:

  • Chipindura plays from 12:30 to 2 pm
  • Tashinga plays from 3:30 to 5 pm

The Mother's Day venue is particularly delightful with exquisite food and unique crafts for sale at a variety of booths.  All of this wonder is set in the ambiance of the woods, where this most interesting source for seeds, herbs and other fine plants finds its home.

Join us with your dancing shoes!