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.”