Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe

by Action Change (Formerly GVI Trust)
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe
Help Feed Hungry Children in Zimbabwe

Dear Supporters,

 

In July, the Trust team went on a site visit to Marula School!

 

Driving up to the school, we could see the new gate in all its glory! If you can recall, the old gate was reversed into by an army truck and had to be removed, allowing all the local goats to come roaming in, and feast on the school’s vegetable garden. Thanks to you, and your generous donations, the new gate had been erected - and boy does it look great!

 

We were warmly welcomed by Mrs Dube, the principle of Marula, who took us on a tour around the school. We visited each classroom, greeted by the happiest little faces - Despite their circumstances, the kids of Marula are such little rays of light, with the most impeccable manners.

 

We were then taken to see the new kitchen, at this stage it was just a foundation in the ground, but this allowed us to see first hand just how terrible the current working conditions were - a two meter by two meter room, no windows and one door. The fire is set up on the floor in the middle of the room with two big pots over it - you can only imagine the heat and smoke that bellowed out. The two cooks were mixing ‘pap’ (a tasty traditional African meal) with a giant wooden spoon, sounds easy right? Wrong.. The strength it takes whip the pap around fast enough before it burns at the bottom of the pot, is unbelievable!

 

We then visited the vegetable garden that the teachers, and children have been working very hard at growing. When available, the veggies are used for lunchtime meals, which was exciting for everyone! The day scholars walk miles in the early hours of the morning to get to school, and the meals provided at lunch are often the only time these children will get to fill their tummies with a nutritious meal.

 

To top off a great (but very eye opening) day, we were spoilt by the school choir, who sang a few songs for us. It truly made us incredibly proud to be involved in such a driven school, despite their hardships, pulling together in every way they can to make Marula the school it is.

 

A lot of this is thanks to your continued support and without you, we would not be able to support such a deserving school.

 

So with a full heart, Thank you!

 

Zimbabwe Education

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Dear Supporters,

 

Many years ago, when our safari lodge was up and running, we hosted a lion conference attended by researchers from all over Africa.  At dinner one night, I was talking to Professor Claudio Sillero, an Argentinian, about the economic disasters affecting both his country and ours.

 

“Things couldn’t get worse,” I told him.  “I think we’ve reached rock bottom.”

 

 Claudio laughed.  “There is no such thing,” he said.  “Take a lesson from Argentina – we just dig a deeper hole!” 

 

17 years later, and Zimbabwe is still digging.   

 

Hunger, inflation at over 175%, 18 hour power blackouts, water rationing, fuel queues and 3.5 million rural people facing starvation – it’s been bad before, but this time it’s worse.  Much worse. And there seems to be no way out.

 

Anyway, the point of this update is not to give you a rundown on the state of the nation, but to tell you how the children of Marula school are faring.  At present they are on “holiday” (whatever that means these days to a hungry Zimbabwean) but they are back to school in the first week of September, at which time a truck full of the term’s provisions will arrive.  I’ve said it before, but here it is again. Nothing is so heart warming as seeing groups of children on their way to school in the early mornings – when every one of them is smiling and waving as you pass. Some of them have walked for hours, but they know that at lunch time there will be a full plate of food waiting for them.   Thanks to you, our wonderful donors.

 

Progress has been slow on the outside kitchen – the footings have been dug, the cement has been bought, but Public Works are as usual dragging their heels.   So – I’ve enlisted the help of Craig Tilbury, who has been cutting and baling grass on the farm, and is very happy to assist not only with transport but with any building that needs to be done.   At last, someone we can rely on!

 

In my next newsletter, I’ll be posting photos of the school vegetable garden – made possible by our water reticulation scheme.   I just hope that someone has been watering it during the holidays!

 

As always, with our deepest gratitude 

 

All at Marula School 

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Dear Supporters,

Our beautiful gate is finally up thanks to The GVI Trust and all of our donors! The old one hung together relatively well for a very long time, until an army truck backed into it some years ago and nearly took it off its hinges. Since then, goats have wandered in and out at will and eaten everyone’s vegetables - so you can imagine how happy the school is to finally be able to lock them out for good. Not only that, once the side pillars are built, the entrance will give the school the start of a much-needed facelift.

In the images attached, an orignally built storeroom, now a classroom for 40 children and their lovely teacher, Alice, have to squeeze in there for their classes. In fact, there are only three proper classrooms for over 300 pupils, the rest have been converted from storerooms, the infirmary and other unsuitable spaces.

But things are happening. Now we have the gate, and the public works department is about to start on the outside kitchen for the day scholar cooks. It’s taken a while for them to get going, because they have been fully occupied in building the nearby Marula secondary school. What is impressive about that is that to date, the community has managed to provide much of the wherewithal for the construction. A great deal of this has been in kind – youngsters working only for a food allowance, farm bricks rather than expensive bricks from town, plus some locally sourced donations.

The plan was for the secondary school to open at the beginning of this year, but this has not been possible.  They have completed one block and partially finished another. Mr. Edgars, one of the builders, is at work on the teacher’s cottage. Roofing material is needed, plus a water storage tank. The toilet behind is of the “Blair” variety – invented in this country – and for those who might be interested: “The vent pipe sucks out air from the pit and fresh air is drawn down through the squat hole. ... Any flies escaping from the toilet are attracted to light coming down the pipe, but these will be trapped in the pipe. All Blair toilets are fitted with a roof and a semi dark inside.”   So, nothing flash, but they work!

Mr. Sibanda is our head cook and thanks to frequent unscheduled load shedding, he often has to cook for 70 or so boarders and teachers over an open fire. There’s always a plan in Zimbabwe – there has to be!

And unfortunately, some very sad news, our Headmistress Dube has just lost her husband of 37 years – a fine man who often helped out at the school, and was always on hand to assist the community.   

We are hoping that Tyrone, GVI Trust representative, will be able to come and visit us in July, so he can see what is happening at both schools. He’s given us constant support and encouragements and we really look forward to meeting him at last and showing him around.

Thank you once again, to all our donors who have shown their commitment and care by continuing to support our school.

As always, you are all hugely appreciated!

With love,

Zimbabwe 

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Dear Supporters,

We were very worried when we came back home, after a month overseas visiting our family. We’d been following the news about the riots – the burning, looting, and once again, the shooting of unarmed civilians by the army. To everyone’s concern, Government had shut down all social media and cut off the internet.  

No money, no jobs, no hope - Zimbabweans are the most peaceful of people, loathe to resort to violence and insurrection. But they had had enough.

In the past four months prices have gone up by 200% but wages and income have not. The people had tried peaceful protests and been shot for daring to raise their voices. They had endured the 2% tax on electronic transactions to fund government expenses; they had become used to queuing for hours at the bank to try and get cash (now barely available and then mostly in $2 bond notes), and they had tolerated the near-disappearances of basic supplies like cooking oil and bread, and resigned to sitting in the three or more kilometre long lines waiting for the arrival of fuel at the petrol stations.  

But then Government increased the price of fuel – overnight – by 150%, making it the most expensive in the world, and the lid came off. But not for long.   People were shot, beaten, imprisoned and abducted, and the brutal crackdown hasn’t stopped.

Austerity for Prosperity! Goes the government’s dazzlingly hypocritical mantra.

The day after the fuel price increase, the President hired a luxurious Boeing 787 Dreamliner from a Vietnamese company to fly to Eastern Europe.

He’s been in power for 16 months, and in that time, his travel expenses have cost the taxpayer around US seven million dollars.

So, when we arrived at the airport, we expected worried faces and a very gloomy atmosphere. And what did we find? Smiles, laughter and that irrepressible good humour that is the trademark of this wonderful country.    

The teachers were on strike for a month for higher salaries (to no avail), so the children at Marula School missed out on four weeks of their first term – and their daily lunches. And despite all the plans that were in place – the lack of fuel has prevented the builders from starting on the outside kitchen, and the teachers’ cottage at the secondary school. But… the children are back, having their nutritious lunch every day, and as you can see, still smiling as they always do.

The whole world is hurting, and most of us feel helpless to do anything about it. Right now, there is no positive news from Zimbabwe, but I believe that all we can do is to concentrate on one area, however small, that makes the difference. What you give those children every day is truly invaluable, both to them and their parents, and they appreciate it enormously.

Thank you so very much.

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Dear Supporters,

The excellent news is that thanks to your donations, the 250 odd day scholars at Marula Primary School are still receiving lunch every day. And that makes them some of the luckiest people in the country, because a few weeks ago, Zimbabwe pretty much closed down.

No fuel, no money, no supplies in the shops. Since then, fuel supplies have become available, but intermittently – and the same goes for basic supplies. But…if you can find something to buy – you either have to pay in US$ (unavailable to all but the most privileged), or with our “bond” notes which are officially (and ridiculously) still on a par with the US$, but in reality are trading at anything from 3 to 6 : 1. Very luckily, I had managed to organise a delivery of food for the entire term (3 months) just before the crunch came, so there has been no break in the supply of lunches to the day scholars.

A photo of the Zimbabwe flag was doing the rounds on What’s App, with the words “Closed for Stock Take”. And that’s how it is. “Winner Takes All” has been the motto of our government since it took power almost 40 years ago.

Although we are told that the situation is easing, as traders are now being allowed to import basic commodities, like cooking oil and flour, from Botswana or South Africa – there is still almost nothing in the shops. What appears to be happening is that these are being siphoned off to be sold on the black market.

So now you can appreciate just how lucky our children are!

We have managed to find a builder who will construct the teacher’s house at the proposed secondary school just down the road from Marula Primary. The local people have done an excellent job in putting up one classroom block, using volunteers, and once they have a teacher’s cottage, they can start classes. However, they ran out of money a few months ago, so we paid them a visit, had a look at the plans, and called the builder. He was on the point of coming to have a look, when the fuel crisis hit. But when that is resolved, he’ll be able give us a quote. And we hope, by that time, he’ll be able to source some materials for us.

The other project, as I’ve mentioned before, is the open cooking hut for the ladies who give the day scholars their daily meal. And this is the priority – they are spending hours every day in a small room, choking on the smoke from their three legged pots. Again, the builder will be able to quote on this when he can find the fuel to get out to Marula.

The great advantage we have is that we can rely on the funds you supply externally, so that while any purchases we make for the school will be on the high side – we will get the best possible prices.

You’ll be happy to know that despite everything, we are still going to be giving the Grade 7’s a leaving party with chicken stew (a great treat) and the loads of sweets that I managed to buy before the prices went crazy. Great news too is that the Marula choir came first in the provincials – for the sixth time running – with their beautifully harmonized Batonka songs. I’m going to be video’ing them shortly, and will post the link on this website.

If you are interested in knowing a bit more about what’s happening in Zimbabwe, do have a look at zimbabwesituation.com – a daily roundup of the news.

Thank you as always to our wonderful donors – I don’t need to ask the question: what would we do without you? I know. Nowhere else could we get the help that you give our children.

With Love, 

Zimbabwe

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Organization Information

Action Change (Formerly GVI Trust)

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Tyrone Bennett
London, London United Kingdom
$213,048 raised of $250,000 goal
 
6,891 donations
$36,952 to go
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