Project Updates

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?

 

Jaiaen’s First Field Report from Zimbabwe

 

Jaiaen and Jess have arrived and been busy in Zimbabwe! You can read the first field report (also archived on our website) at Field Report 1, or continue below.  Thank you for your continued support, especially if you are able to help with the solar repair project described below…and now over to Jaiaen’s report…

 

March 29 2018

 

Dear Friends of Zimbabwe,

 

Arriving at the Harare airport always feels somewhat like swimming underwater. The altitude and humidity creates a palpable texture to the experience. Nothing quite like it. No matter which airline you take, it is quite a long journey, but we actually got some pretty decent seating. Jess figured out after a couple of legs, that exit row seating was the solution as she is a tall, long-legged gal. Leaving home on Wednesday around 2:30 p.m. and getting into Harare Friday 12:30 p.m. sounds like 46 hours but due to time zones it was really only 37.

 

Here is the short version: 

  • OUR FIRST TWO DAYS – ADJUSTING TO NATURE
  • SUNDAY – ALL ABOUT FABRICS
  • MONDAY AND MMC EXPANSION…WOW
  • TUESDAY AT THE PRESCHOOL
  • WEDNESDAY AND PAYDAY
  • TATENDA CHAIZVO!

OUR FIRST TWO DAYS – ADJUSTING TO NATURE

 

We – Jess, my helper this trip, and I – were blessed with an uneventful flight and all bags arriving safely. We quickly found the welcoming faces of Cosmas Magaya, our Project Director and his wife, Patricia, who is also our key coordinator for the Mhandara Monthly Care program (MMC). Within a few hours after landing, we had stopped for supplies, dropped by the family home in the townships, left some donated flannel in town for getting a batch of the reusable washable pads underway, and headed out to Mhondoro, the rural home. We arrived after sundown on the 23rd. Tasvika! Sorting quickly through the trunks to find bedding by flashlight left us well spent and ready for our first night’s sleep at the village homestead.

 

Although we each had night-time mice visitors, we managed to overcome our first hurdle, as we are both hardy campers. Jess, an OSU student, my assistant and friend on this trip, woke up to two little eyes within inches of her own, but luckily outside of her mosquito net. The mouse in my hut was rustling about in a drawer, so I tossed the entire cane unit outside to be dealt with later. In the a.m. I was able to empty the drawer in the grass, assuming the noisy creature had gone during the night, but no. The thing was huge… I thought it was a rat… and it dashed right back into my hut!

 

Finally later in the day, three of the women came armed with broken tree branches to help me roust it out. Unfortunately, it had a nest of three babies inside the bottom of my bed and so it was not going to just be chased out. With their sticks they promptly dispatched them all and I finally was able to sleep. I felt badly, I just don’t like killing, but I reminded myself that it was probably just the first of many hard things, where not all involved are happy with the results. This can be a common situation as people think “us Americans” can solve everything with money and I often have to find ways of saying no, just like to the mice… Just can’t host those guests.

 

Jess said her mouse was rather small and crawled under the door that second night for a quick peek at her, but then left. She has since stuffed the hole with a plastic bag.

 

We have been on the run since arriving. Saturday was spent unpacking and barely settling, visiting our Chief Nherera who helps us help them, and getting the kitchen organized for the 3 week stay. We have hired Lillian, a very bright and talented 27 year-old with excellent English, a large capacity for endurance and hard work, and a superb cook. She is helping us with all the domestic necessities, translation help, as well as data entry. And, wow… we are eating great! Saturday was also spent successfully meeting with the marimba and mbira teachers to check on several things that will be unfolding during the trip.

 

SUNDAY – ALL ABOUT FABRICS

 

Sunday was a big day, meeting with our craftswomen who are embroidering the blocks that we began importing long ago. We will again have a few of these blocks at Zimfest, as well as filling an order for a quilting venture. These women are so grateful for the work and the money to help pay school fees. Not enough can be said about supporting their art projects and its effect on their morale as well as the food on their table.

 

We also had many meters of flannel fabric in our suitcases that were donated to the MMC program from three main sources. So Sunday we spent some time measuring and cataloging for Nhimbe inventory purposes. Everyone is so grateful for the help, and the flannel quality from Canada and the US is far better than what we have been buying here in the shops.

 

Sunday was our first big day of filming, and Jess was found behind the camera at every turn. She has a natural affinity for camera use as well as has found the women delightful and the culture fascinating. She is so very personable that she quickly found a place in their hearts. Filming the embroidery stitching and flannel inventory kept us busy for hours.

 

MONDAY AND MMC

 

Monday came quickly and our plan was to drive to 5 local schools in one day, 2 of which were already part of our Nhimbe community, having participated in Girl Guides for several years. Our goal was to reach out to more girls and see what kind of natural expansion was possible. We were met with great interest in all locations. Basically we gave a short spiel on our program to stir interest.

 

But then, it started occurring to us, since we were talking to hundreds of girls, that if even ten percent show up at our camp next week, we had better think about logistics. First is to see how many girls come to this coming Friday’s meeting. It’s a normal weekly meeting where they either sew or sing and talk. This time we will talk about the MMC system and our protocol for participating. We will also talk about my favorite subject, boys. Predation is a serious problem as it is anywhere in the world. Our goal is to arm these girls with knowledge, awareness, and permission to be unashamed to talk with our leaders. The program is called Hurukuro Na Tete, meaning “Discussions with Auntie.” Everyone loves that name! Hopefully we will help reduce teen pregnancy, HIV, and improve overall happiness for females, although I’m not sure that we can influence child marriage.

 

The 3 new schools (actually each consist of secondary and grade 7 from the primary as well) are all quite a distance to walk, so teachers have offered to accompany the girls. That was the first logistic to solve. Hopefully it’s worth the hike! Maybe the teachers will become as passionate about it as we are and can begin their own satellite programs out from our Nhimbe community center, with training from our leaders. This would mean the girls can stay closer to home. I’m sure that getting all of the adults together will benefit everyone, as our leaders are also very eager to learn. They really appreciate my blunt and to the point nature, particularly when talking about shy topics. I lost my shy somewhere along the way.

 

Another concern about the camp, scheduled for the 6th through the 8th, is that the solar battery is now unusable. It had a long good life, installed around 2006. To get a new marine deep-cycle is easily $300 and the tech to install and check the system another $100. Since we don’t have that extra in the budget we are trying to find alternatives. There are some little systems for $165 that we might be able to install. The small system will charge phones too. The large system from ’06 will charge cameras and laptops, so is the better long term solution.

 

In any case, with 75-80 girls normally at camp, and if we mushroom to include the new girls, with over 100 plus some, we really need to have some lights at the community center. I’m particularly concerned for the new girls since they are totally unfamiliar with the grounds. If you are in a position to help with this situation please go online to www.ancient-ways.org or send a check, indicating that you want to help with the solar repair! Please let me know at windgatherer@ancient-ways.org that you are contributing to this so I can make a corresponding decision. Thank you so much! And the girls thank you too!

 

The filming and driving to each of the schools took all day Monday and we were all whipped by the end. Zimbabweans have a lot of endurance and even they were tired. A storm had started moving in on Sunday, stirring up dust, mold and grass seed in the hut roofs, and Jessie and I began sniffling and sneezing about the same time. We both have needed to increase our vitamin vigilance and try to fend off being immune compromised from fatigue.

 

TUESDAY AT THE PRESCHOOL

 

Tuesday gave us the last day of the first term to pack in all possible filming of the preschool. Again by the end of the day we were bushed.

 

We made it through the day with scampering children everywhere, and are still recouping from the intensive, purposeful activities and weather changes. Hopefully a break to town to get supplies will be an easy diversion. I tend to like to stay rural, and avoid cities, much like back in the states, but do look forward to solving some communication challenges that can only be dealt with in a network area. We, in the states, take much for granted in city life.

 

WEDNESDAY AND PAYDAY

 

Normally today, Wednesday, would have been payday due to the upcoming Easter holiday weekend, but even though we had hundreds of dollars between us, we didn’t have any small bills to pay people. That means another reason to go to Harare, since the rural area has little money. So instead of payday, we had a nice staff meeting where Cosmas and I were able to explain more about the world economy, and how much we appreciate their hard and committed efforts. We all enjoyed the conversation and could have simply adjourned, but gratefully I was in a position to offer them a slight increase in compensation due to your generosity this year. When I calculated it, the actual percentage of increase was around 10%, but we had kept a tight lid on any raises, since their dollarization of ’09 and our housing collapse of ’08, and just not being sure of how the economies were going. So it felt great to be able to shift after having to hold such a hard line, and everyone was very happy! We paid them just the increase, and will go to town to get change for the remainder.

 

We’ve taken a risk here and I’m hoping it was well founded. We are able to continue this work because of you and your generosity, and also because they are a super team, carrying out the mission and executing our agreements with great cooperation.

 

TATENDA CHAIZVO!

 

Thank you again for your prayers and encouraging words. Jessie and I are blessed to be here and thank you for your continued interest and support of these people in their efforts towards progress. From the infants to the elders, they are all benefitting. The work is reaching far more than the 6 villages, due to the nature of the preschool and the MMC and how both of these programs can welcome anyone in need.

 

Thank you for hearing me… I am typing this in the dark of my hut, listening to the Zimbabwean bugs, maybe crickets, talking quietly just outside, and thinking that tomorrow is going to come very early as we will head out for the 1.5 hour drive to the capital city after breakfast.

 

All the best,

Jaiaen and Jess

 

Jaiaen’s Field Report #3

In this year’s final field report from Zimbabwe, Jaiaen writes:

 

Grasping what the basics of life are, is a gift… it’s not obvious. What appears to our senses is often diluted, over-stimulated, misrepresented, fluffed up without substance, etc., so discerning the essential can be elusive. Like all that we take for granted… fresh water, enough energy to produce food, enough food to sustain health, air that heals, medical care for loved ones, freedom to govern one’s life and make choices without duress, sovereignty of mind, body, spirit… the list goes on. What are the real requirements for wellness, wholeness, happiness?

 

THE QUICK VERSION:

 

Transport – $5/gallon, few vehicles on the road, and sardine-like commuter travel are a lifestyle.
Real African medicine – meeting Sekuru Moyo gives hope for the future.

Survey results – after some serious interviews, we will have a completely new look at the complexion of the Nhimbe families’ living situations.

 

Read all the details here, or access through the menu at Blog & Reports>Archived Field Reports & Letters.

 

After reading these field reports, if you’d like to make a donation, please donate through the website or call the office 877-TATENDA (877-828-3632) or (541) 259-HOPE (541-259-4673).

 

Thanks for your support,

Payton

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

 

 

Update from Zimbabwe!

Greetings! Jaiaen is in Zimbabwe for the first time in five years, and has sent home a report on how she is finding things there. The complete report can be found here, but the following is her quick synopsis:

  • Feeling much gratitude for everything!
  • What it’s like here in town and the rural area… summertime, a safe friendly culture, a struggling economy beyond your imagination, a resilient people,
  • There is an impending drought and feeding the hungry may be on the agenda in 2016,
  • Our preschool is having several challenges – over $2,000 can solve some unexpected problems… can you help us be part of the solution?
  • Thank you for whatever you can do!

Hopefully we will get further updates during Jaiaen’s trip. Watch this spot!
-Payton

Upcoming Trip to Zimbabwe

Dear Friends of Zimbabwe,

Please take a minute to hear the latest from our Zimbabwe project!

** If you have been able to help us with this year’s mission, this email will hopefully give you a short update. And thank you, for your decision to make a difference in Zimbabwe through our efforts. We all are working together!
** If you haven’t seen our annual letter please go to http://www.ancient-ways.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/AW2015-packet.pdf and check out the film clips, or
** If you have read the letter (and seen those great videos) but haven’t been able to donate yet, please see http://www.ancient-ways.org/about/join-or-donate/2016-focus/ to contribute today!

Here is what is happening NOW:

1. The preschool needs some soccer balls and a local girl scout troop is gathering them to send in my suitcase. I leave on the 16th of February for a month.
2. Our library sponsor is covering the postage for us to send some books to arrive while I’m there. We have some books to send, but if you have a special book that would be a great addition to our library please send it right away! I must receive it by February 6th to get it in the mail (that’s 10 days from now). These books will be part of our library there, which serves a full community from daily preschoolers, primary and secondary as well as adults, including local teachers who use our facilities. I would say that lots of Goldie locks and Goosebumps or Harry Potter might not be the best choices – they have their own educational curriculum as well and so straight school text books are also not the best. Think about their culture, and great literature, to make your choices! Please send any books right away that you would like to see made available in the village setting to PO BOX346 SCIO OR 97355.
3. We will be providing monthly care for the girls this trip and all the wheels are in motion to make this happen.
4. We will be providing uniform fabric for the preschoolers and staff so that our school is following the legal guidelines for school uniforms.
5. We will be able to print one of the preschool books that Red Zebra made so that each child might have their own book! What a thought!
6. We will be able to provide some health care by being present to the village needs as we do daily work. Thank you for your support with this.
7. I’m looking forward to getting pictures of wells! We have built a total of 92 wells…16 built just this last year. Now since a camera has been recently donated, we can get pictures of the wells on an ongoing basis (our last camera bit the dust). Thank you all for your patience with our well building and picture taking progress. Some of you don’t care about getting a picture and others do. We continue to always do our best…thanks.
8. We will be able to explore many areas of the project and hear from the residents just how Nhimbe for Progress is helping their lives.

Its been 5 years since I have gone to Zimbabwe. Initially the political situation made it difficult to spend a month in the rural area, since having regular gatherings could be misconstrued. Then my late husband, hence our family and friends, were all working through Agent Orange and its repercussions. Its taken a while to be ready to travel and return to the rural area, but I’m now looking forward to it.

Thank you for any way you are able to help us, help them! We are committed to making a difference today, and in the future.

Please feel free to call or email with questions…thank you for your continued support!

Jaiaen
541-259-HOPE or 877-TATENDA

 

Have you seen our annual letter?

Have you received our annual letter, which we just sent in the last couple of days? It would have come directly from the office to you, personalized for your ease. You can also go to http://www.ancient-ways.org/news/annual-newsletters/ to find the latest update and a general purpose donation form that can be used and/or also sent to family and friends, if you would like to forward them this information. Check out http://www.ancient-ways.org/about/join-or-donate/2015-focus/ for an online version of the donation form. Thank you for your time and attention! Looking forward to hearing from you!

Great W.A.T.E.R! News!

W.A.T.E.R! = Wells And Toilets Everyone’s Right! After some difficulties in acquiring cement, we are now in a position to source the cement for wells! Ancient Ways has saved enough since 2013 to build 22 wells right away before the rainy season comes in November. Around 7% of the residents have a pure water well. We have about 515 left to build, 280 in Nhimbe and 235 in Jangano.
If you have a “special project” jar, in which you have saved up your skipped-video-or-latte money, or, are moved in your heart to make a big difference in an extended family’s life, consider DONATING NOW at http://www.ancient-ways.org/programs/facilities-improvement/water-for-wells/.
Don’t hesitate…Join us in our W.A.T.E.R! program. One well costs $250 to build , or $23/month if using a reoccurring credit card (CALL THE OFFICE at 541-259-HOPE or 877-TATENDA). Any amount helps…Plus, your family surname is painted on the well. Thank you for increasing a family’s garden productivity, overall health and wellbeing, as well as ensuring their future. Always feel free to call or write with questions! Tatenda Chaizvo!

Burgers for Books Fundraiser Sunday 8/25 12-2

“BURGERS FOR BOOKS” FUNDRAISER this Sunday 8/25/13 12-2PM at 35355 Eicher Rd, Albany OR 97322
Join us following the 10:45 am Gathering at The Shift when the Red Zebra Project will host a “Burgers for Books” barbeque fundraiser that will benefit a new books project in Zimbabwe through collaboration with Ancient Ways. The event will include:
• Live marimba music from Marimba Detembo
• Red Zebra cookie decorating and temporary tattoos for the kids
• Special appearance by Cosmas Magaya from Zimbabwe playing mbira
All donations will fund the new Red Zebra Project in Zimbabwe. Come and share food and festivities with us as we raise money to get Shona language books in the hands of the Zimbabwean children.
Also feel welcome to attend an informal tea party hosted by David & Hilary Ker of the Red Zebra Project on Sunday afternoon for those who would like a chance to meet Cosmas Magaya. Tea and coffee will be provided beginning at 3 pm. You can bring cakes, cookies or fruit if you like. The address is in downtown Albany, 539 5th Street SW near White Spires church on the corner of 5th and Calapooia. Call David at 541-971-0839 if you have questions or need directions.berryjam.ru

Partnership to Teach Children Mbira

Last year’s Zimfest grant to Ancient Ways is helping to start an mbira program in the Jangano area where Fradreck and Fungai Mujuru co-direct the project. Additionally, we are partnering with MBIRA organization (also a 501(c)3 non-profit) to provide mbiras to the children – check out this incredible video http://youtu.be/IRgvDJYZ1V4 from another primary school they have helped in Nyamweda, Zimbabwe.
MBIRA is dedicating 100% of June donations to purchasing mbiras for children, some of which will go to the Jangano children – see their success with these kinds of programs http://mbira.org/Teaching-the-Children-of-Zimbabwe.html. $100 buys an mbira – any amount is helpful! Help us with this program by donating:
• Building Instruments – Go to the mbira.org link above or send a check payable to MBIRA P.O. Box 7863, Berkeley, CA 94707-0863.
• Scholarship Students – Go to http://www.ancient-ways.org/projects/jangano/campaign-to-keep-jangano-children-in-school/ to help sponsor the teaching of mbira classes in the Jangano St. Bedes primary school.
Thank you!Focuz