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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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-breakingawakening.
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.
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.
Continue to stay safe and thank you again for your continued interest and support!
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.
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!
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!
Graduation day for the Nhimbe for Progress Preschool and our resident's soap/mask distribution were brought together on December 17th. Both went on quiet well. Muda, our new co-director, shares the following story:
"We were graced by the local councilor and health workers. You will notice from the photos some did not even have masks and they had to cover their mouths with their shirt or hat when receiving the masks. We want you to get the true picture on the ground. Covid-19 education is a continual effort.
A total of 253 bars of soap and 253 masks were distributed. Febbie has been getting calls from those that were absent and she will be setting a day soon to distribute more. The councilor was very grateful to Nhimbe for the kind gesture and he will be donating some masks also to the preschool when schools open January 4 2021.
There was great team work on the day from Nhimbe staff. Febbie had everything set up nicely and the attendance by parents was great. For example, Kenny, the Marimba teacher, was busy the day ferrying soap for distribution. Compensation payments were also given on that day, and the staff are very happy and express their profound gratitude."
The Nhimbe preschool graduated 25 pupils to go to first grade in the surrounding six village community schools, starting up January 4th, 2021. With only five months of schooling under their belts, their demonstrated knowledge speaks to the way that education works well, having all ages of children in one schoolhouse.
Let me share the graduation photos and videos, followed by the Covid-19 intervention pics.
Men to the left, women on the right, in a traditional fashion, here to attend the graduation of 25 little ones.Check out that incredible cistern and windmill...thanks to your continued support!
The graduates are waiting patiently as the ceremony begins.
Finally...their turn to do presentations and receive certificates!
Presenting: Color Identification - in English!
Presenting: Counting to Ten - in English!
Strength in Numbers?
Presenting: Body Part Song in Shona!
Muda, the new Co-Director, presents the certificate to the child and mother, as Febby, the other Co-Director and also head of the preschool, looks on. Fortunate, a preschool teacher with us for several years, is in the background on the left.
Our graduation certificates have a real shiny gold seal!
This is a big event for the villages dressing in their go-to-meeting clothes. Most every child had at least one parent in attendance, and sometimes, like here, most of the family. This little lad looks ready!
Besides the certificate, each child receives pencils, and a school writing book, plus a special gift of either a small towel, Vaseline, tooth brush, tooth paste or bag of maphuti (popped corn).
Graduating Class of 2020!
Covid-19 Intervention Continues as a 2021 Focus
The Nhimbe Team was prepared with 400 hand-sewn masks and 400 bars of soap to be distributed to all villagers who showed up. Mid-May we similarly gave these resources, and many people didn't understand the purpose.
This line goes as far as the eye can see. Doing their best to stand at a socially distant space, many people still did not have masks, and used scarves or shirts for face covering.
Some soapy water is a prerequisite for entry into the Community Center. Hey - check out that water tank and windmill ;*))
I just love how this picture is just overloaded with soap! You know, if you are short of cash for food or school fees for children, you might not buy or use soap in the way we are accustomed. That is why this is quite a gift!
Here is the system. After lining up and washing up, they come by each of the two tables to receive one mask and one long bar of soap (about 14" long). We expect this to last for 2 months, when we will again distribute.
Here is someone who did not have a mask but needed to use a scarf. He is now setup!
This ambuya (grandmother) is very grateful. Her children and grandchildren have also been sponsored for school tuition over the years. Another happy camper!
Here is some video to be able to peek into the world of our MMC program (Mhandara Monthly Care), which focuses on the maturing girl.
This gathering was a normal Friday afternoon meeting, but was highlighted with the addition of MMC Start-up Kits for the new girls. They spent the afternoon together enjoying music, sewing, marimba, and always gentle instruction.
We have over 80 girls in total just within Nhimbe, and 45 or so received their first kits (bucket, soap, underwear, a new purse sewing kit, and reusable washable supplies). If enough donations come in, we will be able to reach out to the neighboring communities, as we have done in the past (just without the 3-day camping).
These girls are following the same mask pattern we sent by Whatsapp in April for the women to make for village distribution (very similar to the pleated onesour volunteers have made available here on our website as a fundraiser). The girls are making themselves and their family members masks. You hear some marimba music outside at the beginning because they are taking lessons as well.
The marimbas are sounding wonderful! The girls didn't get to play for months during the hiatus and are now back to it. Many thanks to Kutsinhira ZCDP grant that made this marimba set available to Humwe, our sister organization here in the villages. And, of course, thanks to you, our donors, for sponsoring the teacher, Kenny, who comes to offer lessons!
Offering a speech to your peers and the community is part of growing up in Zimbabwe. This girl speaks to the empowerment of learning.
"A good day to you all! My name is Tariro Rukodzi. I want to tell you about Education. Education! Education! Education is the key to success. Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world. Without education, life is tough, like chewing roasted maize without any teeth. With me, I have education...we stand without compromising. With education, life is like cutting margarine with a hot knife. Education is the vaccine for violence. Thank you!"
WE can't thank you enough for your tremendous and continuing support! This year has been difficult for all of us, and it is no different for them in the rural area, except maybe less media to tell them what is going on and less water and soap to use for cleaning, but all balanced by a very strong resilient nature.
Please join us as we celebrate our work in Zimbabwe for yet another year!
An amazing assortment of new African fabrics have been donated, as well as the efforts of two lovely women volunteers with superb sewing skills and artistic love for their work. Your decision to get a mask from us brings all of this together.
Here we are with the holidays budding, and thoughts of sharing love buzzing...how can we help you?
Please check out the latest in the "Store" HERE. The new 3-D style as well as the familiar pleated and fitted designs are clearly shown and easy to navigate with the shopping cart (rather than the old google sheet that we started last spring on a whim of "oh heck, lets give it a go...;*))
We are uploading more pictures as they are finished, and until then there are fabric swatches ... you can see how incredible these turn out ... please reach out with any questions.
The latest news as well, is that you can request a child's size! Just email and you'll be in touch with the seamstress, who is adaptable and experienced with grandchildren, neighbors and the like, fitting those sweet little faces.
Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement! All proceeds from these donations join our efforts to intervene in the lives of those in Mhondoro specifically with protocol for Covid-19. If you haven't yet read about our vision, HERE is the overview, and HERE is the progress to date!
We are all enormously grateful for your interest in our particular products and services ... you choose the donation amount that fits your budget
(remember that online payments and mailing spend close to $5 of your precious contribution)
and its a bit like being a kid in a candy store...enjoy running up and down the aisle!
Your recurring generosity, friendship, and kindness has made all of this possible. Tatenda Chaizvo!
PS Please watch for our annual letter in your inbox, giving you a snapshot of 2020-2021.
PPSLooking forward to pictures, video, and the story from Mhondoro? We hope so! Those on the ground are elated at what they have been able to do because of YOU!
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.
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.
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) ;*))
Nhimbe for Progress continues despite the many challenges we have faced for over 20 years. There is a spirit of tenacity behind us... impelling, propelling, compelling. Please remember to check out our ongoing progress reports in this link. It shares the very latest, and can be filtered by your favorite focus!
Ancient Ways began working on a "transition team" in mid-August, a month after Cosmas' passing. Then, just two weeks later, we realized that Patricia, Cosmas' widow and our "next in command", was needing to return to her rural family home to fulfill her dreams as a merchant and farmer. She will be working the fields of her father's land and hopefully opening a new store. We bless her on her way, and for listening to her inner guidance, although this came as quite an awakening to all of us!
We immediately initiated work on a plan for the new transition team. By mid-September we began completing those strategies. How do we effectively transfer all of that knowledge and power and move forward without wasting a drop of time? The rains are likely coming the end of this month meaning, well building will cease for 6 months, preschool is starting the beginning of November (opens the 9th), and maturing girls never stop blooming!
Nhimbe has a new team in place working diligently on the details of getting everything moving, now! More to follow in another blog, as that is taking detailed and firm shape, solidifying with all the i's and t's clearly marked.
Thank you for your continued concern and support during these last few months. It means a great deal to hear from you, even if just a few words. I think the most poignant feeling shared with me has been, "No time on earth is long enough to share with those we love, or to prepare our hearts for good-bye." (Christopher Lyles) It speaks to death and loss so very well. I've certainly been blessed by the brilliant light of many people whom I've dearly loved over the years and that sentiment shouts loudly.
Everyone on our team is deeply moved by being a member of this new Nhimbe. We all recognize how fragile life is, and what a tender seedling we have in our hands, looking for the sun and hoping for the nurturing of rain. We are rapidly working towards getting the preschoolers in their seats by phase 4 of the government's plan, and MMC girls again learning about their bodies, as well as deepening the remaining 25 wells before the rains come...all considering Covid-19 safety issues!
Locally, here in Oregon we are currently looking at higher numbers of infections as well. As a music community we continue to encourage utmost care in all arenas, including mask-wearing. Our latest volunteer has come forward with a great new mask for us to offer through Ancient Ways on behalf of Nhimbe (currently only 4 new fabrics available at the bottom). Please check it out:
Designed by an engineer, Dora Cary of Orange Dot Quilts, and enhanced with special adaptive features by Heather Hodney.
Curves out away from nose/mouth, allowing more breathing room.
Does not slip down when talking.
Silicone adjusters to size ear loops to fit.
Ear loop elastic extends behind head, creating a lanyard, allowing mask to be worn around neck when not needed as face covering.
Nose piece can be removed.
Made of 2 layers of pre-washed cotton.
Can be machine washed and dried .
Here is our first testimonial "I love the mask. It is the best fitting one I’ve tried to date. The special features of the nose guard, 3-D breath-ability, toggles for fit, and the elastic for around the neck make this design special—not to mention the beautiful fabric! They really are sensational". Liz H.
The Magaya family has been able to hold their nyaradzo ceremony for Cosmas on October 3rd in Zimbabwe, after waiting almost 3 months due to this unusual Covid situation. Normally, this would traditionally have been finished within about one month of his passing, allowing everyone to complete one of their rituals leading up the final ceremony next year. This successful event is a great relief to all involved!
Now, the rest of us around the world, also have an opportunity to gather together online to honor and celebrate the life of this unique man on October 10th! Please feel welcomed by the following invitation from the Kutsinhira Center, who are hosting this online event.
September 25, 2020
We at Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center deeply mourn the passing of the great mbira player Sekuru Cosmas Magaya, our long-time teacher and friend, who died on July 10, 2020, after contracting COVID-19.
We are planning an International Zoom Memorial to honor Sekuru Magaya on October 10 and invite you to join us. As we are able to accommodate only 250 connections in addition to our presenters, we are asking that you RSVP to let us know that you would like to join (please see instructions below).
The approximately 2.5-hour memorial will take place on Saturday, October 10, 2020, beginning at 10:30 am PDT and at 7:30 pm Harare time.
Our presenters will include many family members, close friends, hosts, and mbira students who consider Sekuru Magaya to be a major inspiration in their lives.
10:30 am/7:30 pm: Begin slide show accompanied by recordings of Sekuru Magaya, while people connect. We highly recommend joining early to enjoy the beautiful slide show created by Mark Cohen, featuring Sekuru Magaya’s US visits 1998-2018 and accompanied by his solo mbira recording, Anoyimba.
11:00 am/8:00 pm: Brief greeting, introduction. State intention to record.
Opening Prayer by Fradreck Mujuru, live from Zimbabwe
11:15 am/8:15 pm: Musical and spoken tributes, 3-5 minutes each. Most or all of these will be pre-recorded, and in a pre-set order. We will begin with Magaya family and friends contributing from Zimbabwe.
12:30 pm/9:30pm: (or whenever planned program finishes) – invite other attendees to contribute spontaneously (by request via the Zoom chat box)
Approximately 1:00 pm PDT (10:00 pm Harare time): Closing
If you would like to join us for this event, please fill out the brief registration form HERE:
If you have any problem accessing the form, you can instead reply to this email with your name, email address, brief description of your connection with Cosmas (e.g., “mbira student,” “university host,” “longtime friend,” etc.). It will be helpful if you can use the form though.
We will send you the Zoom link and some helpful Zoom hints 2-3 days before the event. When you click on that link any time between 10:25am PDT and the end of the Memorial Zoom, you will join in a Waiting Room and soon after admitted to the event by our tech people.
Please do NOT publish this link on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). If you know of others who would like to attend, please ask them to send us an email requesting the link.
Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center and the Magaya family retain all rights to the recording of this event, and we plan to share it with those who are unable to attend the live session.
We look forward to sharing this time with you.
Marilyn Kolodziejczyk and Memorial Committee (Tsitsi Hantuba, Lynne Swift, Janis Weeks)
We are hoping that this finds you and your loved ones well!
We continue to forge ahead in all ways possible. Our latest progress report is always online here. Our team in Mhondoro is searching for simple and safe solutions to attend to the great need in the rural area. The country's lock down has tightened and we are, of course, following all guidelines.
We are still expecting results for the many Covid-19 tests that were done in our area at Cosmas and Patricia's home. The immediate family is well, with almost all testing positive, and recovering any symptoms that presented themselves. Quite a statement about Shona resilience. The remaining residents are patiently wait to hear.
If you have been following our mask inventory, you know that we have had shortages for a bit. We are back in masks! Due to your generosity, we have raised over $2,300 because you have bought our masks, and because people have donated hundreds of hours of their time, plus their Zimbabwean fabrics, to make this all possible! Wow!
We are doing everything possible to make a difference in Mhondoro through this ordeal...thank you!
Not every style in every fabric is back in stock, but doing far better. Continue to stay tuned as we receive more inventory and update the online inventory. You can find the information here, as well as when you:
Go to the website on the main CHANGE! page (towards the bottom), where we explain what we are doing to intervene for Covid-19, or
The MASK TRIBE page, where there is more background about mask making (again towards the bottom).
The main difference in the recent masks is that there is a metal nose strip on most of them, but not all. If you need a metal piece in yours (you wear glasses for instance, and prefer the lack of fogging) then please mention that in your order, otherwise yours can come either way.
We are getting great reports about their comfort and quality...Enjoy shopping! And again, thank you for your continued support of these residents!
It's with enormous gratitude and appreciation that I write with the latest about what is going on in Mhondoro. Besides bringing an opportunity to share some historical context about Nhimbe for Progress, additionally, there are some lovely video updates towards the end. Being able to write is sorely needed for me, in coming to terms with the miracle of life and death.
Blogs “should” maybe be short, but, sometimes it’s not possible.
With Cosmas’ passing and his family being tested, Covid-19 became a reality to his neighbors, both locally and for the entire region. Likely, the first person any of us have known personally to have died from the virus, the impact has been great to our hearts and psyches. Cosmas grew up in the Magaya village and herded cattle like other small boys. Little did anyone know that he would evolve into such a beloved teacher and friend to so many around the world.
Many articles have been written to commemorate his life. The NY Times article is linked here. Although reading about his life in these various ways is helping with healing for us all, I continue to be a little miffed reading the articles because he is acknowledged as the Project Director of Nhimbe for Progress, but not the co-founder. So here I am, just wanting to set that record straight…Cosmas Magaya and Jaiaen Beck joined together in a vision for this particular pragmatic elaboration of consciousness.
Yes, Ancient Ways as a non-profit was my vision and began 5 years earlier, but I had no premeditated inclination to ever go to Zimbabwe, Africa in general, nor to jump into humanitarian outreach in this fashion. I knew I was feeling prompted to do something since childhood, but what exactly?
When Cosmas and I met in ‘98 during his first trip to Eugene, he came to visit our community near Scio and we spent much of our time talking about his father (now late), a nganga or more commonly n’anga, which is an herbalist and spiritual healer. I wasn’t one of Cosmas’ mbira students, but instead had this compulsion to study his father’s work.
His father Joshua, renowned in the region, and mother Matilda, both had enormous hearts, and handled everything that would arise with compassion, always looking for the high road in difficulties, as well as the most progressive and enlightened approaches to practical aspects of life, including being well-known for their farming. It was the Light emanating from that relationship exploration that became an undeniable driving force in my life.
During Paul Berliner’s Soul of Mbira tour in ‘99, Cosmas and I took our imaginings of a dream, and created a laundry list. That day, surrounded by my first marimba teacher Maggie from Kutsinhira, and Marilyn and Mark, who are other members from the multi-faceted, devoted and affectionate Eugene music community organization, Cosmas and I defined our specifics. All of this impelled, compelled and propelled me to be on a plane 3 months later, on my first trip into the Zimbabwean veld, the savannah, the bush.
That same day, as we were delving into what was possible, they received a phone call that Dumisani Maraire had passed on. The imprint of that moment transferred all of the undefined passionate energy I had received from Dumi, as my first Zimbabwean teacher, into the as-yet unnamed project Cosmas and I were in the midst of birthing. Cosmas was my co-conspirator, if you will, to change the face of rural Zimbabwe, alleviate the suffering, and create opportunity for another way forward through difficult times (kuenda mberi), and the Kutsinhira community became a mid-wife of sorts.
It’s obvious to those on the inside of our larger Zimbabwean music community, that his 20 years of devotion and dedicated work to Nhimbe was not a light-weight endeavor. Anyone who has visited Africa for any duration, or even camped anywhere for longer than a few days, understands how everything requires more effort to achieve basic results, since water and electricity flow are not easily available. Compound that with the politics of the day and you have a determined but careful leader, who was often found saying “We are winning!”.
Besides requiring incredible endurance and resilience, which appear to be innate Shona characteristics, the Large Love from Cosmas’ parents infused his life with a genuine capacity to not just find a way to dance with everyone he would meet, but also at every turn, he would highlight how we as communities need every diverse reflection of the Divine…all of us, even when we don’t like something we see in another, are each bringing out some aspect that contributes to the whole, with forgiveness and acceptance as huge gifts to evolve us through the challenges.
It is with his hand at the plow, complemented by his dear wife, Patricia, that we have expanded over the years. Her energy exceeds no bounds and her administrative and management skills have been growing by leaps. The many enthusiastic and loyal family members, and Nhimbe staff, have created a strong fiber so that Nhimbe has evolved beyond a faithful and steadfast mushroom, into a native beauty with fervor and zeal, and which now belongs to the entire community from the elderly and children, all the way to the local politicians, and the Mhondoro member of Parliament.
This last week, the 18th to 20th of July, the member of Parliament who had attended the MMC (Mhandara Monthly Care) Camp during our 20th anniversary trip November 2019, organized 300 Covid-19 tests for Mhondoro, at Mudavanhu’s (Cosmas’ son) request. Muda has taken on the role of family head there at this point, negotiating the terrain, filling some enormously large shoes. Because of those promptings, 56 of the tests were given at the Magaya homestead for the nearby neighbors, thereby including Nhimbe residents, with the remaining tests being given in surrounding villages to include multiple Chief’s regions. This is an incredible awakening gift to the villagers considering the current lack of medical and insurance systems in Zimbabwe!
We continue with our Nhimbe intervention, as we await the immediate family test results. Patricia is staying in town during this isolation time, and so is guiding the efforts by cell phone calls and Whatsapp, reaching out to members of the Nhimbe community. The following video, created by a neighboring villager coming to help out, shows our two guards, the preschool head and a teacher, harvesting rugare from the new garden. The bounty is amazing!
Those identified as the elderly, plus pregnant and nursing women, are being given these beautiful bundles of greens, the most impactful vitamins and minerals available. And, this is winter! I can feel such a grateful reverence for this process. It’s so very touching to see!
Patricia also reports that Isaac, who is in charge of the wells, has completed deepening another 2 wells. We have finished 17, but have another 30 to go. The drought has taken its toll on the water levels, so at times there is absolutely nothing there. We had 48 to do, but one was dropped, so we only have 47. They found out that there was plenty of water in the family's well, it was just that the rope on the bucket was quite a bit shorter back in 2010 when it was built, so they bought another rope and are happy campers!
Thank you for all the ways you are helping us with these efforts. Always feel free to reach out by phone or email – I appreciate the encouragement, and find comfort in being engaged by and responding to your inquiries. Below are a few links to peruse further:
Cosmas Magaya Memorial Fund donations can be made here. Thank you so much! These monies are being used for burial and funeral expenses, as well as interceding on behalf of the family’s medical expenses to get through the Covid-19 circumstances.
Currently school is in a hiatus thankfully, although, the grounds are being maintained and guarded. We continue to pay the Nhimbe staff, although at a reduced rate, it was what we must do for this year, while the pandemic restructures and repaints the new normal. The staff continues to step up and assist at every turn. Please see how you might be able to help here!
Many blessings your way, with health, well being and safety for all of you and yours! Tatenda Chaizvo!