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Heather’s Report from Zimbabwe April 8, 2014

-Meeting with Anna and Sithembile from Marunda Village-

Heather Ferris, team leader for Zimbabwe, arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe on February 18, 2014. Her agenda there was to visit Rokpa, Chitungwiza and meet with community members from Marunda Village, where Ronald had defrauded this community. (In the photo, Heather is seen meeting with Anna and Sithembile from Marunda Village.)

She initially met with the team at Rokpa who are overseeing the Chitungwiza project, which is a respite day-care facility for children and youth funded by Canadians. The facility includes non-disabled children who are either siblings of the disabled children or fee paying kids. The team shared the progress and also the learning at Chitungwiza. They have completed the buildings, the playground, the kitchen, upgraded the permaculture gardens and put in place a staff of 4 plus parent helpers who come daily and one who works diligently in the gardens helping youth with disabilities to learn gardening. It takes time to get teams to work together harmoniously and at the same time appreciate volunteers who are actually feeling like unpaid staff. They are also realising how much more equipment is necessary for the various disabilities.

“I was taken out to Chitungwiza a few times with Sabina and Winnie and received a warm welcome with so much appreciation for all who have raised funds and donated to this venture."

At one point they took advantage of me being there to have a staff meeting and I was left with over 20 children (about half with disabilities)….eek!!! It was very demanding with some kids who couldn’t walk unassisted, others lying on the floor, some crawling and others running wild, and very excited to be free to play. I took out a bag of storybooks I had brought with me and within a few minutes they were all on the carpet looking at and exchanging books--these children have very few books.

It is rainy season in Zimbabwe and, when the book-reading was waning, I suggested that those who were able should go outside before it rained. I called for assistance for someone to watch those who couldn’t make it, then headed out assisting one girl who had the determination to walk but very little balance to do so. The merry-go-round is very popular and, once I had ensured that everyone was aboard, I sent it spinning, hoping that no-one would fall off (I have a short video). Then the rain came: it was fast and heavy and I experienced the hardship of those less mobile trying to get in from the rain.

We sang songs and played games and I felt exhausted! The carers reappeared after a good meeting. At the end of the afternoon, two men came with instruments, mbiras and hoshos. The rhythm was fabulous and the women and children danced. Even those children with very limited mobility moved to the music. It would be great to have more instruments so that this could happen every day.

We had time to discuss various money-making projects they are considering:

  • A peanut butter making machine for the wonderful peanuts grown here
  • A bicycle fix-it shop

Other needs included:

  • a permaculture visit to a Zambian village for Winnie and connecting Women for Change with the Zimbabwean women from Rokpa.
  • Stanley has soccer teams playing locally who need some equipment. (The goal is to teach them to be quality people with caring hearts as well as soccer players.)
  • The afternoon club. -Will start a bit later once they are ready and that classroom is already built.
  • They have asked for computers from an embassy and are awaiting a response.

Rokpa Chitungwiza’s aim is for this to be a community used facility after school hours so they are holding an open day in mid-March.

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also visited the craft centre where women are creating such beautiful things. They are all mothers of disabled children. They also have a respite centre in their village (not Chitungwiza) for their children with disabilities. They sell through fair trade and their organisation is called Batsiranai.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I played jump rope with some local village children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zimbabwe is a country of courageous people living very close to the earth under very difficult circumstances. The land has huge rocks often balancing precariously. There is maize growing in every possible space along roads and highways. This is food security!

Heather Ferris

Chitungwiza
Zimbabwe

ICO Initiatives

September 17, 2014
ICO’s Instruments4Africa provides opportunities to underprivileged children in Mali, one of Africa's poorest countries, to get an education and reach their potential. Building on Mali’s rich artistic culture, children receive performing arts training, and are part of a performing arts troupe guided by professional dance and music teachers.