Training in power tools
Let me start this update with some general comments:
Things have been very tough in Zimbabwe over the past several months. Last year’s drought pushed up the price of food yet again, and this year’s forecast is for more of the same. The World Food Program is warning of widespread hunger. The drought also left the city in a water crisis that led first to cut-offs of water every other day, then for 72 hours at a time and now for 96 hours off, 24 on. Unfortunately, our new well went dry, so we’ve been scrambling for both water and food.
Nonetheless, we’re thriving. After almost two years of frantic activity to get our new Center built and the programs redesigned to our new realities, we’re finally settling in to a routine. With our own site, and since Pumula schools are on two shifts, we are able to meet with our young people daily. The trainees who built the new facility with Dennis and Tinashe are now managing the Center programs. They are running daily tutoring programs in our library, especially for the teenagers currently sitting their high school graduation examinations. Foster, who is running sports programs, has recruited the older kids to help him build an obstacle course. Tinashe is leading everyone through the complexities of computers, starting, literally from the inside (of the machine) out. And Sithabisiwe and Collin have just completed a First Aid training course and are getting our clinic up and running.
We are about to bring in a group of younger orphans, preschoolers, because we are seeing too many young children wandering the neighborhood without supervision or stimulation – and with dangerously swollen bellies. We’ve recently dealt with a case of full-blown malnutrition with Fiona, a 13 year old who is HIV positive, so we’ve become even more sensitive to signs of serious hunger.
Our big news is that starting on November 1, we’ll be competing in the Girl Effect Challenge sponsored by Nike and Global Giving. It is going to be our toughest challenge since the winning charities will be those with the greatest number of individual donors, not the largest total amount of donations. We’re aiming for 1000, and if we prevail, we’ll be in good shape for funding a special training program for girls that will result in a series of microenterprises that we’ll eventually spin-off for the girls themselves to run and own.
It is enormously important because once girls hit 16 or 17, their caregivers want to marry them off as soon as possible, usually to older men, those most likely to abuse them, to want polygamous marriages and to be HIV positive. So we’d be really grateful if you could throw a bit into the pot at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/building-girls-futures/
A $10 donation counts as much as a $500 donation!
The Girl Effect program will be an integral part of our vocational training program, which is booming. I don’t know if you can imagine the excitement of young people who don’t even have shoes when they’re presented with the chance to learn on brand new computers! As they master the basics, we’re going to start a community blog about Pumula North, complete with photographs and video. We’re hoping that a few will get hooked and a friend from New York has offered to visit and start them on web design, a skill in growing demand.
And the welding program! We never would have anticipated the sheer passion these young people are showing for welding. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Harare, we’ve managed to purchase a second welding machine – and they’re off and running!
We are very fortunate to have been offered a bit of container space by a fantastic foundation in New York, and are about to ship three sewing machines over. They will be used both by our trainees and by some of the caregivers. And we already have both boys and girls asking when they can begin to learn sewing.
We have lots of plans for more programs, including one to prepare young people to serve as home health aids, another in furniture making. Little by little, we tell ourselves…
None of this could have happened, of course, without your help. So thank you!