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!

3rd Field Report Update from the Ground December 6, 2019

We all want to Thank You! Tatenda! for the magnificent gift of your attention to this small place on the globe, so far from you and your busy lives. If you draw a line through the earth it looks like its exactly on the other side of the world…this gives us pause. 

Still in our 20th anniversary year for Nhimbe, and 25th for Ancient Ways, we are only able to be here working together (nhimbe) for progress because of you!  It’s an amazing journey, which takes endurance, blameless courage, and deep love for humanity.

Please remember us, as you consider how to share your wealth in the world.  $10 here can make a difference!  $1,000 impacts many people, for the long term as well.  Whoever you are and whatever you can do, is felt, and the ripple is farther than you can imagine!  Please check out this year’s annual letter by going to the 2020 Focus on the website menu.

We are continuing to open our hearts and minds to the incredible opportunities here, to see how best to reach into their daily lives.  What is it that they really need today that will carry them the farthest with the most prosperity for health, wealth, and happiness?  Which resources are the key, besides education, which is fundamental, and not free here in Zimbabwe.

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

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

Click the arrow on the video to play Planting Covo Cuttings

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

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

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

Diki Diki (little) Message from Zimbabwe!

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


Marimba lessons this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They grow them big here!  

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

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

Good night from our front door to yours! 

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!


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!

Upcoming Trip/Permaculture Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special Orders for the Holidays!

We have an unusual opportunity to pre-order holiday gifts that will return to the US on 12-13-19 with our team (which is leaving in a couple of weeks)! If that works for your holiday shopping schedule, we will be bringing back some nicely carved wooden spoons ($8), intricately woven baskets ($10), and beautiful handmade purses (three color choices) with inside pockets ($26). Here are some samples:

The embroidery is random patterns. The sizes are consistently the same. She includes an inner pocket. The fabric bolt swatch shows the colors the best. They are approximately 10" x 10" with a 2" gusset in the bottom. They are extremely well-made. Easy to carry a thermos, keys, phone, plus other assorted items...very roomy but not bulky...the perfect size.

There has been no reliable electricity for quite some time in Harare and so the seamstress is often found at her machine after 10 pm when the electricity comes on, sewing into the wee hours.

This last year Winfilda lost her sister due to a sudden health issue. She is now responsible for her sister's three children, as well as her own. These purses she makes will help her pay school fees for the children as well as put food on the table. She doesn't sell these locally but primarily to us. She is a trained tailor and does an excellent job!

Thank you for helping us help them!

Please email gogreen@ancient-ways.org or call 541-259-4673 or 877-TATENDA with any product or shipping/delivery questions! We leave on 11-11 and must have orders before that date.

Thank you so much for your support of these craftspeople!

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!