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!

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! 

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!

Mhandara Monthly Care Update

Please check out the latest about our Mhandara Monthly Care (MMC) program in this link! (or paste this in your browser https://ancient-ways.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/MMC-Request.pdf)

 

We are asking for your consideration to send this to anyone you know who has a heart for females and the challenges that face them, particularly in Africa. 

 

We have an incredible program with an excellent track record...check out our website.  With very little funding we can intercede on behalf many of our MMC maturing girls' lives in 2019!

 

Please forward...thank you so much!

2nd Day of September MMC Camp

What do 234 girls look like on a hike?  Incredible!


They are hiking about 800 meters from the Nhimbe Community Center.  How delightful! 

How often do we as females get to be free in the forest?

MMC September hike from Jaiaen Beck on Vimeo.

 

 

The hiking journey always makes a stop to climb.

Anyone is free to go for it.

 

And go for it they do!

MMC September trees from Jaiaen Beck on Vimeo.

 

The girls also practice their public speaking by offering a thank you to everyone involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September MMC Camp Live Now!

We hope to bring you some pictures and videos over the next few days as the girls have gathered in Mhondoro at the Nhimbe for Progress Community Center for yet another great camp. 

 

They live together Friday to Sunday, three times a year, to celebrate life and being a girl

 

We are so honored to be able to bring them this opportunity and thank all of you for the support you have extended to help Mhandara Monthly Care (MMC) and this camp.  It has grown and developed into this rich and deeply connected program.

 

They arrive in their uniforms from school and then relax into whatever they want.  Girls of any age are welcome, so some of the preschoolers even attend, as well as graduates from our Girl Guides weekly meetings.  They always begin the weekend with plenty of singing.

 

MORE TO FOLLOW AS THE WEEKEND UNFOLDS!

Third Field Report

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

More News from Zimbabwe

We received another update from Jaiaen in Zimbabwe!

 

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

 

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

 

THE QUICK VERSION:

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

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

-Payton