Our 2016 visit to Zimbabwe

Report on our recent visit to Zimbabwe.

The students arrived on the 5th January (apart from Seren who had lost her passport). We had formed a working support team in Zimbabwe with two of Martha’s ex students who were very keen to help the charity and promote the student visit. On their arrival the students were met by traditional dancing and singing, and although very tired they enjoyed it thoroughly. The state had provided a bus to collect the students from the airport and we were taken to a private house in Harare equipped with a swimming pool in order for the students to rest and acclimatise.
The programme developed as the visit went on. The students re-located to the community centre where they met the mothers of disabled children and settled in. They were taken to the Police station to register their visit. This is important as it helps in terms of security. Land at the centre was cleared in anticipation of brick making and building the learning centre/library.

We had some problems in locating the brick moulding machine as the previous supplier was not now operating the same business. On the first weekend we all visited Dombashawa Caves, which immediately struck a chord with the students, as they had been studying the San people (bushmen) as part of their course.

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The other main recipient of the out reach work was Anna who is disabled. Love Zimbabwe had previously helped Anna who was raped in 2015. An appeal meant that we could fix her door and keep her safe. We took the students to her hut and it was even in a worse condition than Mr.Kunaka’s. Lucinda and Bridey (two students from UWTSD) decided to take on the job of cementing the floor and painting the interior, contributing their own money. This was a great sign of their commitment and dedication to helping people in the community.

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More imagery on our Instagram page @lovezimbabwe_

Our support team had been working hard and had organised an official reception for the students at the National Gallery in Harare on 14th. January. This was attended by many top ranking officials from all of the Ministries in the Government. These included the Ministries of Tourism and Rural Development with whom we are now signing Memorandums of Understanding. This will help our work in Zimbabwe a great deal. Through the connection with the Ministry of Rural Development we gained access to culturally historical sites such as Domboshawa Caves and Chinhoyi Caves. This partnership means that we will be able to take future groups of students to most historical sites in Zimbabwe.

As part of the visit we focused students on the areas that were connected to their studies, as the trip is an official part of their University course, and counts towards their dissertation.
Several students came to visit Nyakudya Primary School, which is one of the local schools in our community. Eggy, Jessica, Seren and Bridey (students from UWTSD) took classes for lessons in English and in climate change. All of the students learned a great deal about the difficulties of teaching to classes of up to 50 children.
The next trip was to Mucheri Primary School where last year we had planted 100 trees. We had also promised to try and raise money for their new library roof. We were glad to be able to present the school with a cheque for $300 donated by Ysgol y Lawnt in Rhymney. On the way to Mucheri we visited Kutama College which was established by missionaries. The students made some good contacts with the pupils of the school. On the way back, we visited Chinhoyi Caves which was both culturally and visually stunning.

The cooking for students, staff and visitors was mainly done by our volunteer, Catrin Cribb, the mothers of disabled children, Dave and the students themselves. This was a valuable lesson in using fresh produce in different ways, as there were several vegetarians. This actually saved money on purchasing meat. It also changed the attitudes of some of the meat eaters towards vegetarian food.

At the end of the trip we had a farewell party for the students who by then had become very connected to the centre and the people who had worked there.
Overally, the trip was a resounding success, due to the hard work of the managers both from the U.K. and in Zimbabwe. Special thanks should go to the team in Domboshawa led by Taurai and Tafadzwa who made great efforts to make the students welcome and worked with great endeavour and commitment.

Report by Dave Holman, operations manager.