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, 

It's about time that something from Zimbabwe made your smile- and here it is- we'd highly recommend you watch this video!

The Marula children gave a concert for some visiting American students, and the highlight was a performance from the from Grade 0’s, of their very special rendition of Baa-baa-black-sheep, and the Wheels on the bus.   A scuffle broke out during rehearsals between two little boys in the front row when the wheels on the bus went in opposite directions, but this was quickly resolved by the teacher!

Meanwhile, in the crazy world of their elders, President Mugabe and his entourage of over 50 people, including his wife, flew to New York for a week by invitation of the U.N. to attend an Oceans Summit, in order to contribute some crucially important opinions from landlocked Zimbabwe.  

Our President has blown over $20 million in foreign travel in the first half of 2017 alone. Perhaps it escaped his notice that according to the Africa 2016 Wealth Report, Zimbabwe has been ranked as the country with the poorest people on the continent. It’s almost impossible to believe that in 2000, on a per capita basis, this was one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, on the streets, acute cash shortages mean that banks are limiting the amount of money both individuals and companies can withdraw, to as low as $20 a day – often dispensed with sacks of coins.  The fact that it is so difficult to access their money also makes people reluctant to put it into their banks. In any case, the majority of Zimbabweans live in the rural areas, in a hut with no power or running water – and certainly no chance of ever owning a bank account.

Economists report that poverty levels in the country are skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest levels in more than 60 years – with more than 76 percent of the country’s families now having to make do with pitiful incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.

Many of the day scholar parents at Marula can no longer afford the school fees and even if they could –there is no cash available to do so. But still, their children keep coming – and the school hasn’t the heart to send them away.

And you can rest happy knowing that every single one of them (270 +) is receiving a nutritious meal every day, thanks to your hard-earned donations.

Thank you!

With love from all at Marula School

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The maize plants, which should be 1.5m by now
The maize plants, which should be 1.5m by now

Dear Supporters, 

The New Year started with high hopes of a good rainy season and a bumper maize crop.  And what a season it has been, our area in the south-west of Zimbabwe has been literally awash.  Rivers that have been dry for years are now running, dams are full and the cattle and the wildlife, at last, have full bellies. 

But – and there is always a but in Africa – the welcome rain turned into a flood, particularly after the arrival of Cyclone Dineo, which first made landfall in Mocambique. The effects on the crops have been dire. They have either been swamped or washed away, as have many mud and thatch houses, which are simply not designed for such a downpour.

The photos attached are from a village near the school. The maize plants should be at least 1.5 m high at this time of the year, but all that is left are a few yellowing stalks. Fortunately, the big dam from which people draw their water is intact, though many of the smaller dams in the area, as you can see from the photo, simply couldn’t take the pressure of such a huge volume of water.

Thanks to you, though, feeding continues unabated at Marula school, to the relief of local families. As expected, the introduction of our “bond” notes as a result of the mysterious disappearance of real money has led to inflation, and prices of basic commodities have risen sharply in the last couple of months.

These problems, however, do not affect our leaders. Here is a report from a local rag about the President’s 93rd birthday party that was recently held in our area:

“The Mugabe family and their cronies feasted on a 93 kg cake at a requisitioned school in Matobo where local people live in desperate poverty, their children starving, increasingly cut off from the outside world by decaying infrastructure.”

And here’s another eye-opener from the president's wife:  

“For her part, Grace Mugabe, as befits someone with a doctorate, takes a more scientific view. She wisely warns girls that they are more likely to get pregnant than boys and cites her evidence: ‘If you look at the statistics, girls have nearly 100% chance of getting pregnant, while boys have nearly zero chances of falling pregnant. This means girls have to be extra vigilant”

Thank you, everyone, for helping our little school – you’ll never know just how much it appreciated. 

Lastly, here’s a cheerful picture- one kind donor arrived with a box full of soft toys for our littlies, and the elephant was a favourite!

With Gratitude, 
Bookey Peek 

Dams broken by the sheer force of the water.
Dams broken by the sheer force of the water.
Huts ruined by the rains
Huts ruined by the rains
Happy faces thanks to a kind donor!
Happy faces thanks to a kind donor!
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Ready for 2017!
Ready for 2017!

Dear Supporters, 

Our very best wishes to all our donors for 2017 from all of us at Marula Schoolease

To kick off the year, please watch our amazing choir practicing for their performing of Amazing Grace (video on our Facebook page). The choir is made up of both boarders and day scholars and lead by their gifted music teacher, Mrs. Dube. They sing like angels! Late last year, they competed in the national finals - having won on both the district and provincial levels. We can't believe that any other school will sing Amazing Grace as beautifully as they do!

We have had some early rains, which have been erratic, but nonetheless very welcome indeed. It remains to be seen whether the maize crop will be successful this year, but it’s certainly been a great start.

As one would expect, the sound of jingle bells and the rustle of wrapping paper are not a feature of the Christmas season in rural Zimbabwe.  Instead, the children are anxiously awaiting the start of the school term in the second week of January –when they will once again be receiving their daily lunches.  

The lives of all Zimbabweans have been made increasingly difficult because of the shortage of money – the banks having mysteriously run out of the US$ that have kept us going since 2009 when our local currency was scrapped.  In 2008, we almost made history with a rate of inflation of 89.7 Sextillion percent – when a single egg cost over a billion dollars.*   But here we go again.  Despite violent opposition on the streets, Government has once again introduced the dreaded “bond notes”, backed by fresh air and breezy promises that they will continue to be on a par with the US$, when the fact is that on the day that the first notes appeared, the fuel stations were already loading them with a 20% premium.

This, of course, makes food even less available to the vast majority of Zimbabweans (say, 99%), who at the very least need a regular supply of mealie meal – their staple diet. As usual, Government made no provision this year for grain imports, and what little did come in was earmarked strictly for party members only. 

For most rural people, their only assets are their cattle.  But stock losses in our district alone have numbered in the thousands as farmers cannot afford supplementary feed, and selling them is hardly an option with so many animals on the market.   So, this early rain has been a godsend for those that have survived (and of course for the wildlife!)

I’ll be posting some updated pictures when school opens, but in the meantime, our heartfelt thanks to you as always for helping these children  - and for giving them the best present they could ever ask for – one square meal a day.

* A few months ago, the son of the Governor of the Reserve Bank was detained at the border post with South Africa carrying US$7 million in cash.   

Thank you for your interest in our project and for your generous support over the 2016 festive season. Your donations will go a long way in 2017!

With Gratitude, 
The GVI Trust

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Hurry! It's lunch time!
Hurry! It's lunch time!

Dear Supporters, 

Zimbabwe may be in a bigger mess than ever, but the 270 day-scholars at Marula school are happy, thanks to you, our very generous donors.   Happy, in Zimspeak, is simply a good meal – and thanks to you, we have been able to feed every child a nutritious lunch every school day so far this year, and this will continue until the first week of December when schools break up for the holidays.  

Every school day at 12 noon, grades 0 and 1 tear out of the classroom to the smoke-blackened little hut where local ladies are stirring two huge cast iron pots - one containing “sadza”, a thick porridge which is the staple diet of Southern Africa, and the other with a mix of cabbage, tomatoes, beans etc.  Each child gets a full plate.  When the littlies have had theirs, in come the Grade 2’s, and so on, till the Grade 7’s have finished, and the ladies can finally clean the pots, pack up and walk home. It’s a big job.

Even though our rate of unemployment is around 99% these days, and it’s very probable that none of these children will ever have a job, their parents would rather go without food themselves than deprive their child of an education. The 80 or so boarders, whose parents are employed, and can afford the fees, receive their meals at the school.  The day scholars pay $25 per term, a huge sum for their unemployed parents, which is indicative of how crucial they consider education to be. Those children receive nothing but their tuition at the school.  When the bell goes for lunch, the boarders head for the dining room, and were it not for the meal our donors provide, the day scholars would be left hungry outside.

With food in their bellies, their lives are transformed – for them joy is a square meal.  Children smile so easily – and you are giving them something to smile about. Compared to daily hunger, our own concerns and irritations seem so trivial.

Today, Scout Jabulani Khanye and I went up to the school when the infant grades were lining up with their empty plates, and as you can see from the pictures, I was swamped – dozens of little hands reaching out to shake mine. 

There are so many worthy causes that you could contribute to – and we feel immensely grateful that you have chosen support this little school.

As for Zimbabwe, we keep hoping for change.  We don’t give up -  we’ve been hoping for over 30 years now, and it must come.  May I recommend a marvelous book for those who are interested in our country?  It is called  The Struggle Continues – 50 years of Tyranny” - written by David Coltart, a lawyer and political activist who has fought against our corrupt dictatorship ever since his university days. This is the only definitive political account of our country ever written, and in my view, the man should be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize, having survived 5 attempts on his life and still fearlessly carried on. 

Lastly, here is an excerpt from a recent report from Oxfam which refers particularly to the problems in our area:

“In 2015/16 up to 75 percent of crops failed in some of the most drought-affected districts in the south due to prolonged dry spells and record high temperatures. Agriculture based livelihood was severely impacted, leading to loss of crops across two cropping seasons. This subsequently had an impact on livelihood options for the majority of poor households across the country, especially in the south. As a result of the ongoing dry spell and drought, there are acute water shortages in the affected districts and nationally, 31 percent of boreholes are no longer functional. South of the country currently faces acute food insecurity and disruption to agricultural practices impacting on food security. As per FEWS-net Masvingo and Matabeleland South provinces (Southern provinces) continue to experience Crisis(IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes from April through September. According to the findings of theJuly 2016 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Committee (ZimVAC) Assessment, 4.1 million people will need assistance at the peak of the 2016/2017 lean season. This group of affected community will therefore remain the main priority for humanitarian support for the remaining part of the year. Oxfam’s assessment in the target districts highlight severe food insecurity at community level, loss of crops; absence of carryover stocks, asset loss including critical water shortages impacting the targeted communities.”

Once again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your donations, it really does give us something to smile about!

With Gratitude, 
Marula School

The little ones lining up first!
The little ones lining up first!
Beautiful smiles
Beautiful smiles
The hard working kitchen team!
The hard working kitchen team!
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Dear Supporters, 

For a change, I do have some good news! Thanks to the incredibly generous help from our donors, we will be able to feed our day scholars for the next term (three months from September to December). 

Actually, that is about the only good news to come out Zimbabwe right now.  Things are so chaotic and unpredictable on every front that I sometimes wonder if, coming as we do at the end of the alphabet, we might someday just drop off the planet altogether.  

As a result of our not being able to control our own currency, we adopted the US$ around eight years ago. For a while all went well and the shops once again had food, though much of it was unavailable to the majority of our mostly unemployed populace. However, the temptation proved too much for our leaders who have managed to relieve the country of nearly all of its cash – to the point that banks have limited withdrawals to $100 per person per day, for those who have the time and the ability to stand in line for hours.  Even then, this option is available only to those who live in the cities – not to rural people who have no access to banks. It is possible to move theoretical money around using mobile phones, but of course, many people do not have one, and although some rural outlets may accept that form of payment, they also demand a substantial purchase of goods before they will release even a minimal amount of cash (if indeed they have it).

The only people who are in a position to survive this situation, are those with foreign currency credit or debit cards, which are fortunately accepted by most outlets (with alacrity!)

Add the monetary disaster to the failure of the crops after last season’s drought, and you have a desperate and very hungry populace, who can see no end to their troubles.

Nothing is closer to Zimbabweans’ hearts than the education of their children, and they will sacrifice almost everything else to find school fees which, at $25 a term, are almost unaffordable for most of them. This is where the daily meal is so essential for their children, who not only have very little to eat at home but have to walk long distances to school and back every day.

So, that’s the update, and once again, very many thanks to all those who have given so generously so that these children can eat.  What is more important than that?

With Gratitude, 

The GVI Trust

 

 

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Action Change (Formerly GVI Trust)

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Tyrone Bennett
London, London United Kingdom
$213,048 raised of $250,000 goal
 
6,891 donations
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