Article taken from;
Groups from Wales are working across southern Africa to help support partner organisations and communities in the face of severe food shortages.
Cardiff based Dolen Cymru, Bridgend based Friends of Monze and Abergavenny based Love Zimbabwe are among the Wales based organisation who are working to support partners in the affected areas.
According to UN sources 12.8 million people* in southern Africa have been impacted by the food security issue, with the lowest rainfall in 35 years reported in 8 countries* in the region. The number of people impacted could rise to nearly 36 million people* in late 2016.
Cat Jones Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Vast areas of southern and eastern Africa have seen very little rainfall which means that the staple crops such as maize haven’t grown this season, leaving many without food to survive. The increase in the cost of food can make it up to 75% more expensive just to eat a basic meal and many people are going without.
Wales has been twinned with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho for thirty years. Sharon Flint, of Dolen Cymru- the Wales Lesotho link, who has recently returned from Lesotho, said:
“The most obvious difference to their landscape is the views of wild flowers grown in place of the maize crops. On one hand it is beautiful sight, but the reality for the local farmer and community is devastating.
“The maize that is visible is poor and unusable. The prices to buy processed maize to cook ‘Pap’, the Basotho local staple food, have tripled and the changes to water supplies have pushed up the cost of everyone’s utility bills.
“An estimated 1 in 3 people (650,000) will be in need of food aid until next year, so we are working with Send a Cow Lesotho to provide vegetable seeds to families urgently now. We are also working to empower local people by creating school programmes and community gardens to grow crops.”
Some families in the region have resorted to eating only one meal a day to conserve food supplies. School children are dropping out of school to help their families search for water, or to seek work to be able to buy food.
Martha Musonza-Holman of Love Zimbabwe, which has been working with Chinamhora Village in Zimbabwe for seven years, commented:
“We visited Chinamhora Village in February this year and found that people are struggling to find food. The drought is still hitting people severely and many people are eating yellow maize – a crop typically reserved for livestock. The current dry weather, parched rivers, and crop failures have severely affected subsistence farmers in rural communities. Villagers are relying on gathering wild fruits to survive as their crops have failed and food prices have risen.
“The community is working together and people are supporting their elderly and disabled neighbours. Our project is supporting the community by installing water tanks and helping people grow food in drought-resistant keyhole gardens. Some of the craftspeople in the village are also able to earn money through our Fair Trade craft project, and this means that they can afford to buy food.”
With droughts in this part of the world becoming more frequent and more severe as a result of increasing global temperatures and the next rains not due until October, the situation is likely to get worse.
Cat added: “In Wales we are renowned for our community spirit and showing support and solidarity. So please support your local groups who are working in these areas, donate to an appeal and take action to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.”
Dolen Cymru is appealing for donations to its appeal to provide fast growing vegetable seeds for communities in Lesotho to help families feed themselves over the coming months. The Cardiff based Waterloo Foundation has promised to match all donations received by the appeal up to £10,000. To donate visit: http://www.waleslesotholink.org/seeds
Our current trip has been covered by Tendai Mbirimi, from The Herald Newspaper.
Wales Fair Trade Fair Welcomes All
In their opening speeches at this year’s 9th annual Wales Fair Trade Fair, organisers, Martha & David Holman stressed the importance of the event being open to all parts of the community.
New partners, Monmouthshire County Council have been instrumental in expanding the focus of the fair to include a huge range of diversity within the county.
The weekend has always been about inclusivity and has given a platform to traders and groups from culturally diverse areas around the world.
The fair started on Saturday in the Guild Hall, Brecon which attracted nearly 1,000 people and elicited some wonderful comments from the public about the nature of the goods on display.
On Sunday, the Market Hall was packed with people wanting to purchase an early Christmas present with a difference from the many amazing and colourful stalls, which included Love Zimbabwe, Fair Grounds, Fair and Fabulous, Ananuca, Tools for self reliance, Dragon’s Garden, Mixy Fandino, Siwok, Bees for development, Crafty Women, 3 Llama’s. V.S.O. ,Hands around the world and Shared Interest. An extremely exotic array of food was available form Taste Zimbabwe, Boonta Too Thai, and a selection of tasty Syrian fare.
The event was officially opened by Pippa Bortolotti (leader of the Green Party in Wales) and Councillor Martin Hickman on behalf of the Mayoress of Abergavenny. In her speech, Ms. Bortolotti outlined the importance of Fairtrade and how the balance of trade between nations should change to benefit people more equally.
Councillor Martin Hickman praised the new partnership that David and Martha had created with M.C.C. and that the town should be proud of the event and support it fully. He also confirmed his role in the town council as the liason officer with Abergavenny Fairtrade Forum.
Another new innovation this year was the Diaspora/Diversity speaker’s forum, organised by Martha and Susanah Kimani-Njogu. The speakers included – Ellen Jones from Fairtrade Wales, Bekezele Nsingo from African Mother’s Foundation, Zainab Nur from Grassroots Africa Diaspora Women, Daniel Biddle – survivor of the 7/7 London bombings, Adam Smith from the Green Party in Wales, Asmaa Alfashtaki from Syria and Batool Syeda from Pakistan.
The talks ended with a vibrant and lively fasion show by Younique Wear. This forum was a great success and one of the speakers, Zainab Nur said that it was the best inclusive event that she had ever attended.
There was a great programme of entertainment which included – singer/songwriter Ellen Coombe, Chrys Blanchard’s Abercapella, and Blaenavon Ladies Choir with Zim Voices. There was also a welcome return for the very popular sheep racing organised by Jacks Lyndon with many people enjoying the buzz surrounding the races.
Martha and David would like to thank everyone who assisted to make the weekend such a fantastic success, and are already planning next year’s event which will be their ten year anniversary.
WALES FAIR TRADE FAIR GROWS.
This year’s Wales Fair Trade Fair, organised by Gilwern based couple,David and Martha Holman has attracted new vibrant partners. Monmouthshire County Council has joined with David and Martha to broaden the event to include more diversity within Monmouthshire. As part of the European Year for Development, Love Zimbabwe Charity which is run by the couple has received a sub-grant by Bond as part of the EYD2015 to enable them to run a series of diaspora story telling workshops around Wales starting in Brecon on the 3rd Oct with a Zimbabwean Story teller Bevin Magama www.magmaticstories.co.uk followed by a series of diaspora speakers on Sunday 4th. October in the Market Hall, Abergavenny.
The World Fair Trade Fair starts in Brecon Guild Hall on Saturday 3rd. October at 10am (Adm free) and then moves to the Market Hall in Abergavenny on the 4th. (Adm £1 donation). The Abergavenny event will be officially opened at 11.00am by Pippa Bortolotti (leader of the Wales Green Party) and Cllr. Martin Hickman (representing the Mayoress of Abergavenny).
At the opening, Llantilio Pertholey Primary School will sing their winning Fairtrade song from the previous fair.
There will be an amazing selection of stalls over the two days selling fairly traded goods, time to start your Christmas shopping! Stall include – Love Zimbabwe, Zimele, Tools for self reliance, Siwok, Ananuca, Mixy Fandino, Dragon’s Garden, Fair Grounds, Fair & Fabulous, Traidcraft and Global Seesaw. Fairtrade will be represented by The Abergavenny Fairtrade Forum and Fairtrades Usk and Crickhowell. F.T. Abergavenny will be running workshops for children and Rebecca Hands from Zimele will once again run the children’s area. There will also be many charities and information stalls present including – Health Help International, Send a cow, Bees for development, Crafty women, MDML, Sight Cymru, Umbrella, Hands around the world, V.S.O.(tea and coffee stall), and Shared Interest
There will be a fantastic range of world food from Zimbabwe, Thailand, India and Syria as well as great real coffee from Yirgacheffe, Eva’s teas & coffees, Divine Chocolate and Bridges Brilliant Bakes.
A big hit from three years ago is also returning – sheep racing. Come and have a friendly bet to support Love Zimbabwe charity.
Music comes from Chrys Blanchard’s Abercapella, acoustic singer/songwriter, Ellen Coombe and Blaenavon Ladies Choir with ZimVoices.
Martha and Susanah Kimani- Njogu have been busy organising the Diaspora/diversity speaker’s forum of which there are many highlights including Daniel Biddle (7/7 bomb survivor), Elen Jones (Fairtrade Wales), Asmaa from Syria and Mrs Katsande from Zimbabwe.
All profits from the weekend go to Love Zimbabwe charity who undertake lifesaving projects in Zimbabwe www.lovezimbabwe.org
Come and have a great day out and bring the family!
A collaborative piece from Sam Hawthorn, Dan Grimshawe, Martha Musonza-Holman, Steve Jarvis and Taurai Sinaro.
Wow what an experience! Just five and a half weeks felt like a lifetime! We were all really touched by the spirit of Africa, and are deeply grateful to have had the possibility to travel to the community centre and experience life together there.
Life started quickly in Chinamhora, many friends to make, children to greet, it took a few days to settle in, especially the children who were the centre of attention for all the local boys. After that period, the work started as everyone became accustomed to village life.
Thank you very much to Martha, Dave and their family and friends, to Martha’s mother, Gogo Rosie and her family, to the mothers, the children and the men of the community, for the warm welcome and support we received during the visit to Zimbabwe this year. Our lives and those of our children were deeply enriched and inspired by the experience and by the friendships and connections we all made there. We were all sad to leave, and hope to return again.
Within the scheduled time, the water tank was built with a lot of help from everyone there, and the tree nursery with shade nets was constructed. As well as many other projects, these along with the tree planting, were my main focus. At times I had to overcome my frustrations, which were related to material availability, tool scarcity etc. When you have no access to things like a cordless drill (or any drill) and a saw that China sends willingly at a high price but then decides it doesn’t like its job after all, a broken tape measure, but god bless the multi-fix-all ability of wire, it’s tough. This is the situation for the majority of the world’s population, and it was a learning experience for me to see how well the local people cope, along with a strong trait for adaptability.
On a personal level I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. To be in Africa, the birthplace of humanity, the music, wildlife, stories and the open-hearted people, who struggle so much day to day, truly touched my heart. Visiting Lake Chivero was the highlight for the boys and us all I think, especially seeing the crocodiles. It was a welcome break from the work at the center and driving to meetings, town, shopping etc.
By the end of our visit, everything we set out to do had been achieved and we were all still talking to each other. So a successful trip all round. At times it was hard and the challenges of Zimbabwe are huge compared to life here. To not have a dollar in your pocket (or know when your next one might come), the small projects set up in Chinamora could help in an encouraging manner, even in the way of people feeling they are not alone in the world and others are willing to help. The visit for me was definitely a two way exchange – I have come home with rich memories of how people can share, laugh at dire situations and, with a strong sense of family bonds, move through hardship.
The centre, projects, gardens and people evolved during the visit, moving and growing through different phases and stages, until finally the grand opening day was held on our second to last day.
Martha, Dave and Taurai gave a tour of the centre and land, past the two new African huts, then the new septic tank, and onto Taurai’s talk about the thriving sustainable gardens and methods he is trialling from his training in Uganda. The gardens are now protected with a new chicken and goat proof fence, and newly planted hedge of acacia.
We passed the new water collection tank, next to the new tree nursery, where Taurai’s new contacts and partners from the training centre gave an informative talk about the importance of agro forestry and planting trees from seed.
Then the Headman cut the opening ribbon to the newly completed and painted working toilets and showers! The Headman promptly shooed everyone out so he could christen the toilet! He emerged looking very content.
The women were sewing the moon pads, and gave one out free to every woman at the open day, and showed others the work they were doing.
Mai Katsande had her bags and fantastic aprons on display, with Martha modeling one that said, “If you are hungry, ask me!”
Congratulations to everyone on all their hard work, and so much appreciation of the time and commitment all put into the whole trip so we could achieve so much.
When it comes to supporting projects and individuals in the community, I found that it is essential to critically analyse the repercussions of the support before providing it. We are a small charity and funding is extremely tight, whilst we are in Zimbabwe there are so many people who rely on us and hope that we will sponsor them for the year. But, as a charity the hardest thing is remembering that there isn’t enough money to support everyone. In the UK and Zimbabwe, we constantly fundraise and seek funding, but I cannot emphasize enough that the work we do is only made possible by our supporter’s kind donations.
We are still a small charity and each trip brings back a lot of education, every year I feel that Love Zimbabwe is becoming better known. I want to thank everyone who went to Zimbabwe on this trip, there was so much work that was accomplished in such a short period of time. Taurai (Our community center manager), your team at the community centre is amazing. Keep up the good work. I am so impressed with the key-hole garden and the other little nitrogen gardens that you have planted around the centre. It was so difficult to leave, especially with the newly implemented flush toilets and shower!
Every time I return to Africa, I learn so much more about myself. My tolerances, needs and necessities, how to adapt to different situations and abilities to communicate. The most fulfilling aspect of the work Love Zimbabwe does is the fact that it provides individuals with so much inspiration. The rich knowledge you gain from each trip would be impossible to teach without experiencing it and living within the real Zimbabwe. Being on the ground and providing so much support to Zimbabweans who genuinely need it is far more rewarding than anything I have ever done.
On returning back to New York, I feel completely refreshed and as an artist, I take so much from these lived adventures. I cannot stress enough how much Love Zimbabwe depends on support from our supporters, the work we do couldn’t be possible without you.
The bright future is there!, LoveZimbabwe is really growing and I am excited with the MOUs ( Memorandum Of Understandings) that were signed between the charity and different government bodies here! I would also like to thank the trustees and volunteers who were with us for the past month, may the almighty bless you all for your kindness!
I think we were all humbled by the generosity, resourcefulness and resilience of the people.
Today I saw a quote..
“A community is not a place where you can stay without having a sense of who is around, nor is it an item on the market for sale. Rather, a community is an environment where you can find a home in each other’s heart and soul. It is a living entity with spirit as its anchor, where a group of people are empowered by one another and by the ancestors to be themselves, to carry out their purpose, and use their power responsibly.”
Our Trustee, Taurai, based in Zimbabwe, is managing the day-to-day charity activities in Chinamhora. Here is Taurai’s latest news:
“Many thanks for the extra money for the building project, the first hut should be complete by end of this week. The second hut will be finished by the time Sam (Trustee) gets here in January, we have already started working on it and are progressing very well! We will try to cover a lot before we give the builders a short festive holiday next week. Once again, many thanks for the support you are all giving, it is greatly appreciated!
Apart from the building project, the rains have just graced us and I am now tirelessly working on a lot of permaculture design models. The good thing (or bad thing as most people will say here!) is that the government has not been able to give enough supplies of fertilizers as it normally does so it means people really need to find alternatives and that’s when we shall come in once our designs are fully functioning. I’m counting on Sam to help me with that when she comes. The chicken project is still very much alive and we are already planning for the next step! All in all, it has been a very good year here and I look forward to a great 2015!
I would like to wish you all a merry christmas and a happy new year!!
We have set out plans to build a traditional African village on the community land in Chinamhora, where, in the future, visitors will be able to stay and experience life in Zimbabwe on a cultural exchange.
Find out more about what we are doing to incorporate permaculture within the community centre.
We have already built a chicken run which can house up to 200 chickens to provide vital food to the community. This is one of the most important steps in the setting up a sustainable food supply which doesn’t have a high ongoing cost.
Taurai,(community centre manager) with volunteer Steve Jarvis during January 2015
Read about our successes from the latest trip below.