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!

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!

Join us in Celebrating Earth Day for a Week!

Ancient Ways will again be working with the local community in Earth Day awareness and festivities...Check this out: 

  • April 20th we will share in the ambiance of the gardens and forest of Thyme Garden in Alsea - Join us as we spread goodwill and honor the incredible  land there.  Nursery hours are 10-5 pm.  The Circle of Well Being closing ceremony (a program of Ancient Ways) is from 3-4 pm.  Check out the entire day's event!
  • April 27th we will become our African animals in the Procession of the Species, beginning at 10 am at the Albany Court House. Find us as the percussion section next to the children from the Sundborn Children's House, our Nhimbe for Progress collaborators. And, do check out Sundborn's upcoming fundraiser!
  • Tashinga Marimba will be playing from 9:40-10 am and again after the Procession, from 11 am to 1 pm at the Albany Saturday Market on this same April 27th.  Get on your dancing shoes!

As part of our 25th year as Ancient Ways, and also marking our 20th year sponsoring Nhimbe for Progress in Zimbabwe, we thank our local organizations for all the ways they contribute to building community, which has also been our passion for all these years!

 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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!

Incredible Night of Music for Zimbabwe!

Please share with your community!

 

Great Change for Zimbabwe - Marimba and Mbira Performance @ Whirled Pies
Kutsinhira Cultural Arts

 

Marimba and mbira performance supporting Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center and Ancient Ways.

Plan on joining us on Friday Dec. 7, 6 to 10 pm at Whirled Pies in downtown Eugene. A night of traditional Zimbabwean music will be presented in support of Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center of Eugene, and Ancient Ways/Nhimbe for Progress of Scio.

 

Kutsinhira’s sponsored artist-in-residence for 2018, Musekiwa Chingodza, and his fellow musicians from Mhofela will perform beautiful mbira music. Three bands from Kutsinhira, including Jenaguru-Full Moon and Chapwititi, teen extraordinaires, will provide rousing marimba dance music.

 

Bring your extra change, throw in the jars at the event, and help make Great Change for Zimbabwe. Cost:

 

$12 for Kutsinhira members
$15 for adults
$5 for children 12 and younger

 

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.

10/6 Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

Ancient Ways Community Marimba Ensembles are again sharing the sweet and uplifting music from Zimbabwe at the Annual Silverton Sidewalk Shindig.

 

We'll be playing from 12-3 pm.  Please find us in the parking lot between Citizens Bank and the Town House Cafe on Main Street (next to the painted wall mural).

 

See https://www.facebook.com/sidewalkshindig/ for more information.  Come and say hello!

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.