2019 Visit to Zimbabwe Wrap-Up

Coming back to the states is always such a deep pleasure.  It’s not just your own bed and familiar comforts of home, but seriously, things like electricity, pure water, clean air, and garbage pickup, just as a start.  Good friends and family bring one’s cup to overflowing!

We just take so much for granted.  Traveling is a great way to wake up the psyche and take stock.  Each time I return through the US Customs I almost want to kiss the soil.  I know, we have our problems.  But we also have so many blessings.  I’ve taken to counting them.

I didn’t get to share too much of Carina’s film while there so wanted to give you some quick looks at our MMC camp in November, as well as the embroidery efforts, and a few preschool highlights.

We had a special Saturday meeting during their camp with a member of Parliament as an honored guest, as well as parents, local councilors and village headmen.  The girls presented a great show for a part of the two hours. 

Mhandara Monthly Care Girls Camp Dancing

Hanging around and playing marimba is a favorite past-time.  At the time of the camp, only a few of the girls had been able to take marimba lessons, although we are beginning to do regular classes now.

Just Learning this Marimba Song

The girls are always encouraged in public speaking. Here is one of our older MMC girls sharing.  In case the accent throws you, we are including our best understanding of her talk here:

 “MMC simply means Mhandara Monthly Care Program. This entails that there is caring and providing moral support of the girl child. It is Auntie Jaiaen’s wish to provide care and support for us. And we thank her for all of the supplies she gives us because our own parents are failing to provide those things. Without forgetting the Magaya family for their hand in this program.  I’ve learned a lot through the Magaya program.  I’ve learned how to cook, how to bath and how to behave like a girl child. My gratitude goes to Auntie Jaiaen and the MMC sisters for the everlasting support.  On behalf of my colleagues, I encourage you to continue coming each and every Friday learning more about life. With these few words I thank you for your attention.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ follow you for all the days of your life.  Thank you.”

Many Girls Presented During the Special 2 Hour Meeting

75 girls were able to receive their Start-up kits at this MMC Camp.  This includes 3 pair of underwear, a soaking bucket and bar of soap, put together by Patricia Magaya as our manager, as well as the reusable washable pads, which are put together by our MMC team in town

75 MMC Start-up Kits Distributed During the Camp

This video opens with a woman wearing a white shirt…that is our groundskeeper.  She manages the garden and orchard, and now the drip irrigation rows as well.  She is only in the kitchen because we are feeding 350 or so girls, so everyone moves around and gets involved however they are needed.  The gal in the Chevrolet t-shirt is our regular Nhimbe preschool head cook, also supervising the girls.  Everyone gets involved.  All girls are engaged in prep, cooking, serving, cleanup etc.  This was a particularly large meal since we had so many guests in attendance.

Food and Music….they always go together nicely!

We were happy to see them using plastic bags for gloves…YAY for hygiene!  That is probably the biggest concern with so many people all in one place with limited facilities.

How do you feed 350 girls from Friday through Sunday?

The children are so patient.  They really have a tolerance!

Rural Cafeteria?

First thing to note is that tradition calls one to use their fingers in Zimbabwe and having the utensils is a nice benefit, but not expected.  This is a custom, even if you can afford utensils, you may still opt to eat in the traditional way.

Long awaited lunchtime!

One really wonderful thing, is that you know that none of these girls wanting to play sports have to sit out due to their monthly cycle.  I mean, if they don’t feel well, then that is one thing, but they don’t need to worry that running and playing is going to be a problem.  They have supplies that work!

This beautiful blue ball is one we were able to bring from One World Play Project where we bought some at a discount. They are designed for rural African terrain. Everyone is delighted!

Team Sports

This is a close-by forested area that allows the girls to explore.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but imagine how it would be to never be allowed to go to the forest because it isn’t safe…so, with your buddies, it becomes manageable and even conquerable!

Hiking during Camp November 2019

You’ve noticed that music is the common thread, no matter what the story…the backdrop is the tunes and the rhythm and the song.  This little one is “all over it”.

Preschooler Attending MMC Camp

Camp finally comes to an end, and you would think they would be tired.  But so many are still movin’ and shakin’ to the next groove thing on their mind. 

End of MMC Camp – Strolling Home

The final frontier is sending off all of those that come from beyond our immediate area.  The truck has been hired to haul their gear back to the schools.  And, the teacher catches a ride!  This teacher from an outlying school happens to be the daughter, of Isaac, our Building Facilities manager who stays on top of well building and the like. Easily in her mid-40’s now, she always brings such an optimistic feel to whatever she does…and here she is after 3 days with all these girls!

The Final Frontier

Wini is one of the founding members of MMC. In the beginning, and regularly since then, she and I have spent months reviewing costs and fabrics and ideas to come up with a plan that is feasible to continue to implement. After all, Zimbabwean economy isn’t what one would call stable. She has spent a couple of years working through the refining of details, and the economic changes, over Whatsapp to make sure we can actually do what we propose.  Her spirit is extraordinary, her work committed, and her heart genuine.

Winfilda Magaya and the MMC in her life

Other remarkable women are the embroidery crew.  This year we were only working with a dozen of them, since a larger group can get unwieldy.  Take a close up look at those details.  Thanks to the totes from the Amazon Smile Charity list that were donated, these women were able to sew some blocks on totes making incredible bags.  I know, everyone already has a lot of bags…but these are different!  And, another way to reach into the heart of Zimbabwe.

By the way, the two women that are being focused on in this excerpt are both absolute beginners. They have the least experience of anyone, and have only made one or two blocks.

Embroidery Women

Another item that was donated through Amazon Smile Charity lists are these raised surface cards.  We were able to bring 3 sets and the teachers love them….looks like they are catching on with the children too.  I think the youngest ones don’t have any idea which way is up.  Such a sensual way to approach learning, to feel your way to reading – makes so much more sense!

Preschool Alphabet Learning!

The children regularly are playing in various groups singing songs and making merry, getting all that coordination going.

Preschool Group Play

This call and response goes on for quite some time with more of more children getting involved.

Call and Response Preschool Game

These puzzles were donated originally by Sundborn Children’s House, who has been our partner in sponsoring this preschool since 2002.  Many thanks always to Karen Barton for blowing on the embers, Keith Barton for supporting the vision, and their Board of Directors for directing support to keep this all alive on behalf of children in Albany, Oregon, Mhondoro, Zimbabwe, and young ones everywhere!

Puzzle Play at the Nhimbe Preschool

The orchard and garden continue to bear fresh food to compliment whatever comes from town.  We work hard to provide a balanced and healthy meal…often the main meal of the day for these children. Although a small opening into their lives, this meal is a critical one, as most children this age are not receiving the kind of food that we provide, in their homes or at other preschools.

Quick Look at Lunch

The Nhimbe preschool playground did not exist before a Zimbabwean NGO found our preschool to be a model in Zimbabwe, and asked if they could build us a playground. We have maintained it and are very grateful for the donation! Everyone loves it!

Nhimbe Preschool Playground

Like usual, there is much to share, and little time to peek into another part of the planet.  Hope you have enjoyed this tiny open window into the latest of the hearts and lives of the rural Mhondoro Nhimbe for Progress community. 

Thank you! Your continued supports makes all of this possible!

Its almost 2020!

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Field Report from Zimbabwe!

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

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

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

JESSICA, WINIFILDA, and CORINA!

Library Hut Thatching Success!

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

The steps to building a new roof are amazing.

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

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

Also not a quick job…

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

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

Then we replace the poles.

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

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

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

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

Get your own copy here!

Last Call for This Trip to Zimbabwe!

Surprises come in many forms and this time it was unprecedented funding covering the expenses for a volunteer videographer to join Jaiaen on her upcoming trip to Zimbabwe in November!  Leaving 11-11 and returning 12-12 the team will be working in all of the project areas, bringing back art, as well as taking several project supplies (see below). Please read and respond soon to gogreen@ancient-ways.org if you have the video qualifications to offer our 25th anniversary as Ancient Ways, and our 20th anniversary year of working in Zimbabwe. Thank you!

How can you help with your Amazon Smile purchasing power?  First sign up for Amazon smile choosing Ancient Ways in Scio OR.  Then look at the “charity list” that we have prepared with this upcoming trip in mind (notice these items are marked urgent since time is of the essence). 

If you like shopping and want to help, please choose one of the items that we need to take early this next month. (Read the balloon text box next to each item). They will be shipped immediately to our Oregon address, and be able to pack into our Zimbabwe suitcases right away. Please pass these requests to your friends and family. Here is a summary for this trip:

GloGerm powder and fluorescent flashlight – This amazing product is a basic for sharing about hand washing hygiene. In a brief moment one can see how well they wash, and what to do differently. We have used this product in the past health forums and it has been a real hit!

Sensory Letter Cards – Preschoolers learn best through their senses.  These cards offer the upper and lower case alphabet in multiple colors with touch.  Lightweight and easy to take!

Sewing Needles – In Zimbabwe, the needles are coming from China and are below standard, often being rusty, and of course, breaking during use.  These requested needles are high quality, lightweight, and so easy to pack.  How precious it is to sew, particularly with knowledge of how to make monthly care supplies. Purchase just one of the needle 3-packs listed, and almost half of our girls will each get a new needle!

Cotton Canvas Tote Bags – This tote 12-pack is well designed and sturdy.  The women who do textile arts can utilize these high quality totes to design a nice product for sale here.

Car Charger Extender – This great product allows USB and cigarette charging for multiple electronics in one location.  With electricity at a premium both in the city and rural area, our Nhimbe office needs help.  Many people in the city stay up at night to use what little electricity is available.  In the rural area, generators and solar help but not sufficient.  This is a great solution!

Thank you for this assistance!

Zimfest and Zimbabwe News

Summer Greetings!

The Zimbabwe Music Festival 2019 is just around the corner, starting with a free concert on Thursday evening, August 8th at WOU Monmouth, OR, and going through Sunday the 11th, midnight! See Zimfest.org. Please join us there, as we share in the love of Zimbabwe, learning and playing its music, hearing more about its culture, and connecting with like-spirited folk.

All kinds of musicians will be playing most of the day, both outside during the day, and inside for the incredible night-time concerts. If you have never tried your hand at marimba or mbira, now is a great time! Ancient Ways will be both a vendor in the marketplace open Friday-Sunday, and playing as Chipindura Marimba on Saturday at 1 p.m.

If you are attending, please stop in and say hello. Do get in touch now to be a volunteer in the booth for an hour or two, in case you can squeeze us in! We appreciate however you can help and look forward to seeing you there!

The latest news from Zimbabwe has been percolating for about a month. We have been waiting to see how the dust settles. As of the last week of June, anything except Zimbabwean currency became illegal to trade. Its fine to own, but can’t be used, other than to exchange it for the Zim bond note. This of course, is so complicated for everyone. Let me leave you here with a brief report from our friend in Zimbabwe:

We are trying to cope with the situation here, both economic and political.   I know that we are more fortunate than many and I don’t know how the man in the street is managing these days.  Food is becoming much more expensive and now that we have the ban on spending US$ for goods and services that has only complicated the whole issue.  Of course, people still use dollars, and sellers accept them, but always having to look over one’s shoulder.  And there is much confusion about “exchange” rates between the dollar and the newly-created Zimbabwe Dollar (which is a mixture of RTGS and Bond). The official rate is now 8.85 but on the street it is 10, or 12, or whatever the seller wants to use. 

I don’t know what the NGO projects do with the dollars they get from the US; it isn’t illegal in any way for the non-profits to send dollars – after all, millions of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora send money home on a regular basis, and the economy of the country depends to a large extent on these incoming dollars.  But whether they are still paid out in dollars by Western Union I don’t know. And if they are, legally they are required to convert them to ZimDollars – and then to use a registered exchange dealer and get the official rate.  I have no idea how bookkeepers or accountants will account for it with any of these projects or businesses! 

As an example of how costs have escalated, my wife’s car was recently serviced; nothing complicated, just a service and oil change.  She was charged an amount which was very nearly half of her monthly salary! 

A large part of the country is having 18 hour power-cuts every day; they have had to change their life-style to sleep during the day and get up at night to do the cooking, washing and housework.  This also means that alarm system batteries are not being charged up, also electric gate batteries.  Hundred of people are now opting for solar power with batteries and inverters – we are in the process of doing so, although we haven’t had such severe power cuts (I think because there are some very high-powered individuals lining nearby). 

I don’t know where this is all going to end up. 

We too, have no idea where it will all end up. This is the 20th year Ancient Ways is celebrating on the ground in Zimbabwe, and most of it has always been in not knowing…it has never been clear how anything would be resolving. We all just have an enormous amount of faith in the Creative Life Force that cradles the good close to the heart, staying focused, standing for only the best possible outcomes.

Peace and blessings to you and yours – and may we see you at Zimfest!

Losing a Family Member and Team Player

Most of you know that over the last 20 years, the Magaya’s have been instrumental in “holding the energy” for Nhimbe for Progress.  This all began with Joshua and Matilda, as heads of the family, and Cosmas as the musician and ambassador for his homeland. 

 

Over the years many of the family members have participated in Nhimbe a variety of ways.  Yesterday, sadly, Hilda, one of Cosmas’ younger sisters, passed away from an unexpected heart condition.  The family had a few short days of trying to source basics like saline, by driving to multiple locations throughout the capital city of Harare, since the current hospital situation is still in a deplorable state.  In 2000, on my first trip to Zimbabwe, we found ourselves in a similar situation as Cosmas’ wife, Joyce, passed on 3 days after my arrival. The current state of medical care continues to be heart-breaking.

 

Some of you may remember Hilda as our travel team’s main helper for many years.  She would cook our meals and tend our laundry.  She was well-known for an incredible gift of working with food and getting the nuances of our requests for international cuisine from Italian to Mexican and everything in between. One would always, and yes I mean always, hear her singing in the hut as she was preparing the meals.  What a blessing! She also always participated in our embroidery projects in between her duties.  Most recently, Hilda has been a key player in the Mhandara Monthly Care program as she was one of the team, monitoring the quality control and handling the packaging for the girl’s supplies.

 

During my last trip in March/April, you heard about Hilda because her only daughter, Lillian, was our chief cook and bottle washer, as well as our laundry-lady, computer person, and translator, but then too, amazed us with her intellect and speaking abilities as she addressed the young girls about the virtues of staying focused on their education.  We asked you for funding for Lillian’s education so she could finish her 4 year degree, since she was within months of completion but without funds, and you rallied to support our request.  She is now sponsored to be in a position to finish her degree this next year. 

 

The death of Lillian’s mother has come at a critical time though, as her tests for this term are 1 week away.  I ask for your prayers to help her during this stressful time, to stay focused, while still also being present for the family and funeral, taking place right away.  I also ask for your prayers for the family as a whole.

 

Losing family members is hard enough, but the helpless nature of having no medical intervention just rips away the veils, and leaves everyone standing naked before the Creator. 

  • There were heart tests that were to be done on Monday costing almost $1,800, which in Zimbabwe, would not be completed without payment up front. Try to imagine how the average person there receives medical help, as insurance is not an option. 
  • Any hospital bills must be paid before any other family members can be admitted for care.  Maybe you remember 7 years ago July, when I wrote about Benita’s mother passing away leaving a $500 hospital bill, and so Benita (our executive assistant) couldn’t get care for her son John, without first paying for her mother’s medical care, so we asked for a hardship aid loan on her behalf.
  • With unemployment at an all time high, of course people can’t afford buses, or petrol if they do own vehicles, so how does anyone get to the funeral? If one hasn’t been to Zimbabwe, it takes a large imagination to think about the enormous difficulties in facing the simplest things. 
  • The current state of affairs has those with both a car and money waiting in long ques to be able to get fuel, as petrol availability is at another all time low.
  • The family is currently looking for a bus to hire so that anyone who can get to Harare, can get a ride to the Mhondoro rural funeral. They will supply a cow to feed everyone attending and help get guests back home. Quite a different custom than ours.

Life in Africa is so unlike life in the states, I feel like we forget about other parts of the world when our own problems here are going through their up-and-down cycles. It doesn’t diminish the impact of tragedies and traumatic experiences in our lives, but having a glimpse into another window on our planet helps me find more balance.  We are all so very connected.  And because of the music, we have found one another.

 

Hilda was survived by her brothers Cosmas and Leonard, and sisters Efilda, Winfilda, and Emilda, as well as her sons Nyasha, Tafadzwa, Norman, and daughter Lillian, as well as her husband Daniel.  Any financial help towards these expenses can be sent through Cosmas’ daughter, by mailing a check made payable to her, Tsitsi Hantuba, at 5311 S. 45th St., Rogers, AR, 72758.  Thank you in advance for all of your good thoughts, prayers and encouraging words.

Be Seeing You at Zimfest August 9-12th?

Summer Greetings brings the sweet music from Zimbabwe to our local Oregon mid-valley! If you are attending, please contact me at windgatherer@ancient-ways.org just as soon as possible about whether you can help at our booth where we will be bringing the crafts from our villages as well as other African wares, and sharing information about the latest in our Nhimbe for Progress project.  Cosmas Magaya is not able to attend Zimfest but he is here in the states, while his wife Patricia is running things abroad, keeping everything in tip-top shape.

 

August 9th-12th, we will be celebrating what this wonderful music has brought into all of our lives!

See www.zimfest.org where you will find more information about:

  • Zimbabweans who have been able to come for a visit,
  • Sharing of daily and nightly Zimbabwe music at WOU campus in Monmouth,
  • Vendors who will be offering an African marketplace,
  • Musicians of ALL ages playing together as performers and as students,
  • Free daytime concerts and affordable concerts at night for 4 nights and 3 days,
  • As well as other pre-festival events…look at zimfest.org for more info!

Do let me know if you can help at the booth…many hands make light work…the most critical times are setup and take down every day since all booth items are packed away daily, and then we re-invent the space the following day.  Thank you for however you might assist!

 

Hope to see you there!

 

Jaiaen

Shop for Zimbabwe/Father’s Day Promotion at Amazon

Have you signed up to support Ancient Ways through the AmazonSmile program yet?

 

Right now, Amazon is running a special Father’s Day promotion. Through 6/15/2014, for every person who makes a qualified purchase, Amazon will donate $5 in addition to 0.5% of the purchase price. To learn more about the promotion, or to sign up, follow this<a title="link" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?R=2GS547F2Z37UB&C=3SS2O5OZ670D6&H=JW2RZFUM2JWAHXYZQ6TAFK1H9YYA&T=C&U=http%3A%2F%2Fsmile.amazon singulair dosage.com%2Fgp%2Ffeature.html%3Fref%3Dsmi_em_chfd_btn_fdoc%26docId%3D1002662301%26pldnSite%3D1%26ref_%3Dpe_732550_119439840″ target=”_blank”> link.

 

Or try http://tinyurl.com/plytlb6 or http://smile.amazon.com if the above link doesn’t work for you.

 

Example: I’ve been procrastinating on buying a new tent for camping this summer. It costs $140. If I order it right now during the Father’s Day promotion, Amazon will donate $5.70 to Ancient Ways. In this case, procrastination pays off 😉

 

Please take a minute to register for this fundraiser. If you ever shop online at Amazon, it really starts to add up and it’s no extra money out of your wallet.