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,

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 – 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, 


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Dear Supporters,

September in Matabeleland South. It’s dry and the hills are hazy with the smoke from wild fires. But there’s still water around – and the school now has a pump in the well that supplies three outside tanks, and a raised tank by the kitchen where they can store water from the local authority, when their pumps break down – which is frequently!

So, at last, we are facing the worst of the dry season with a good chance of a constant water supply.

The children have been on holiday for almost a month and sadly, during that time, they don’t receive their daily school lunch, as there is no way of organizing this. Still, the lorry full of supplies will be arriving in the next few days – and this will last them until the December holidays.  

Zimbabwe had its election – and despite the noises made by both sides, the result was inevitable. SOS, as they say, same old story – except that this time we have the army firmly ensconced behind the President. Nothing has improved since the “coup” – in fact, some things, like the supply of cash have become far worse. And the value of our “bond” money is being eroded away day after day, leading to runaway inflation.

Since there is no cash available, I have been unable to pay the two ladies who cook for the children at lunchtime. Some people can receive money via their phones, but since neither of the two ladies can afford a phone, the only way I could pay them was to go with them to the local store and buy them supplies.

As you may remember from past reports, we are hoping to use future donations to erect an outside kitchen, so they no longer have to spend hours every day choking on smoke in a small room. Unfortunately, they have to cook on open fires in enormous, three-legged cast iron pots, as there are so many mouths to feed.

A high spot was the visit to the school by Phumuzile – a 32 year old Wife and Mother of a two year old boy. She’s pictured here with a new girl to the school who was not all happy about it! Phumuzile was a village girl, and the village remains her rural home. There were nine children in her extended family, all raised and cared for by her mother, who laboured untiringly in the fields and seasonal gardens, while her husband worked in Bulawayo, many kilometres away – only managing to visit the family for one day on every second weekend.

The children helped with all the chores: laundry, field tilling and weeding, all the way through to harvesting, and Phumuzile says that through those skills, she learned the value of hard work.

The family could barely afford to send the children to the local rural primary school and if it had not been for the intervention of a new headmaster in Grade six, she would have gone no further than the local secondary school. But he recognized her talent, and managed to obtain funding for her to attend a Catholic boarding school. “It was strange,” she says. “Everything was new, electricity, stoves, toilets - everything. It was like starting a new life altogether, it wasn’t easy for me, I was so out of place.” But she soon settled in and, once again, excelled. This led to a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management at the University of Science and Technology, and then to a Masters through Rhodes. She’s presently helping my husband, with a wide ranging project on Zimbabwe’s leopard population, and through that, she hopes to go on to to study for her PhD.  

But Phumzile’s real love is education and that is where she can make a huge contribution to this impoverished country. It’s all very well educating our children in Maths, Science, English and the like – but since only a very, very few of them will ever find a job, teaching them animal husbandry, land and wildlife management and all the associated practical skills will be of far greater use.  

“My greatest thrust is bridging the gap between research, management and education in natural resources conservation through the outreach and empowerment of the young generations and community involvement. Without the community, natural resources can only persist for so long. Looking back, I can just see the hand of God in my life, how he has brought people in and out, how he has put me in places I could only dream of. I have come this far because at some point someone believed in me, saw something in me and gave of themselves to see me move forward, even now. That has made me realise that I can do the same for others,” says Phumuzile.

With people of Phumuzile’s calibre working in our community, there is truly a reason for hope!

We would like to thank you for your continous support to our program and our mission! 

With Gratitude, 

Zimbabwe Feeding Program 

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Dear Supporters, 

For the last few years, the 250 plus day scholars from Marula School in rural Matabeleland South have been receiving a cooked lunch every day of the term, thanks to our wonderful donors who have given so generously through The GVI Trust. 

We have just begun another term - and the feeding programme was in full swing from the first day. Our headmistress says that if it were not for their daily meal (in most cases, the only one they will get), the children wouldn’t be coming to school at all.  Now they have the strength to walk the often long distances from home and back; to concentrate in class and to play - (the most important activity of all!)

National Foods provides 1.5 tonnes of mealie meal free every term, and has continued to do so even when the local crops have failed and the bulk of it has had to be imported from Zambia or South Africa. The rest of the food - beans, soy mince, soup and vegetables is supplied from a wholesaler in Bulawayo and trucked out to Marula.

We’ve now extended the reach of our appeal - first, to build a simple outside cookhouse for the two ladies who are presently preparing this enormous quantity of food daily in two gigantic three-legged pots in a horribly smoky room; and second, to provide the most needy children with exercise books, pencils,pens and other basic stationary.

Unfortunately, Government does not assist the school in any way, although this doesn’t stop them from making constant impossible demands on the Headmistress. (Their latest suggestion was that the school should raise funds by starting a fish farm, despite the fact that water is a never-ending challenge in drought stricken Matabeleland. If anyone knows of fish that can survive in hot sand, please let us know…).

So your assistance, as always,  is invaluable. The school was built by local farmers in the 1930’s for a maximum of 60 children. There are now around 350 (including some boarders), so the place is bursting at the seams. We need classrooms, upgraded toilet blocks and so much more, but right now, we’re so grateful that we can offer the children their daily meal, and perhaps make some other changes that will assist them.  

Our heartfelt thanks!


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Dear Supporters, 

We were in the news last November, when the tanks rumbled into Harare, and Zimbabwe experienced its very own coup (that wasn’t really a coup). According to some, we are now living in “cloud coup-coup land”, but for most of us, that’s a whole lot better than where we were before. Nothing of much substance has happened, but it is early days for the new President, and the real test will come at election time in July. Can there possibly be “free and fair” elections after decades of vote rigging and subterfuge? And if the ruling party continue in power – this time with a very strong army presence in Cabinet – will anything really change? Opinions are divided – the upper echelon are keen for new business opportunities and the revitalization of local industries – but those in the lower strata (around 95% or more of our population) see it differently, particularly in our province, Matabeleland South, which has suffered the most under ZANU (Pf).

One old chap summed it up with his comment: “Change? I don’t think so. Same shoes, different socks.” Wait and see, we’ve been telling ourselves for nearly forty years now, and we are still waiting, but this time with a certain “cautious optimism”. In the meantime, Marula school continues under the direction of our wonderful headmistress, Danae, and her second in command, Mrs. Tshuma. Nothing has really changed for them – there is still the constant battle to find cash and to keep up with the rapidly escalating cost of living. I’ve added a picture of one of the ladies who comes to the school daily to cook for the 260 odd day scholars, thanks to your donations. I paid them each $50 (in our bond notes) today, and it was all in $2 notes, the largest denomination one can draw from banks, if it is available. Often, all the bank can give you is coins. The local “bond notes” were issued sometime ago on the basis that they were on a par with the US$, but in reality, one US dollar now buys US$1.50 in bond, so the black market is thriving. To add to that, due to the changing seasons, we are once again getting very late rains – too late for the maize that was planted in November.

So, not a lot of news from Marula – the children are getting their lunch every day – beans, soy mince, cabbage, tomatoes, sadza and gravy – in different combinations, and it makes an incalculable difference to their lives. I gave a lift home to three day scholars last week when it was pouring with rain. All three are under 12, the youngest around 7, and they had no raincoats or umbrellas. Each day they make a round trip of 20 kilometres to school and back home. You can imagine how much that daily meal means to them.

So, as always, our heartfelt thanks for your support – if we pass the children on the road in the early mornings, every single one of them waves and smiles – and that’s really for you – in appreciation for all that you do to improve their lives.

With Gratitude, 

Marula School 

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Dear Supporters,

Last night, the tanks rolled into Harare and shots and explosions were heard in the direction of Mugabe’s mansion in the northern suburbs. The army, they maintain, is “targeting criminals” - Something had to happen to stop Mugabe’s wife, Grace from taking over. Not only have we run out of money, but we are now being told that the factories have no raw materials to manufacture basic commodities, like cooking oil and flour. People are being encouraged to do their shopping in Botswana or South Africa - as if that’s even remotely possible for our impoverished population.  

Fortunately, all the action is in the north and today, Bulawayo goes about its business as usual. Rumours abound, but the likelihood is thats the sacked Vice President Mnangagwa will soon be leading the country - although into what exactly, we do not know.

Despite all the disruptions, you will be happy to hear that the children are still receiving their daily lunch, and that we have enough supplies to last them until the end of the term. We always budget for mealie meal - the children use around 1.5 tones in a term, but very luckily, National Foods has been providing it to us for free up to now - a massive help!

Since my last report, we have had the following expenses:

Transport and casual labour - $170

Tomatoes - $70

Payment to cooks (until end of term) - $300

Total: $540

Keep watching the news - and hopefully this will all be over very soon and the country can return to some sort of “normality." In the meantime, don’t worry about the children, we’ll make sure that the food keeps coming!

On behalf of Marula school and its happy children - thank you as always!

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Action Change (Formerly GVI Trust)

Location: London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Tyrone Bennett
London , London United Kingdom
$216,475 raised of $250,000 goal
7,016 donations
$33,525 to go
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