ZimKids has been rocking and rolling over the past two months. All of the brickwork on the buildings for our new “home” is almost complete, and the roof structures are rising. Plastering has begun, and Zimbabwe now has its first two female plasterers, our very own Sithibisiwe and Thandiwe! The grounds have been landscaped with a dry garden of cacti and aloes. The paintings on the wall between us and the street have become such a local attraction that people constantly come by to admire and photograph them. Shaka Ndlovu is teaching our Elders who will teach our children how to paint wall art.The younger children have begun digging vegetable plots for their families. Students at Carmel, a local private school, raised $150 and bought us a solar cooker and some post and pans. We distributed glasses donated by an American medical researcher here on the Fullbright program. And thanks to the generosity of the Proctor and Gamble Alumni network, we’re in the process of purchasing a full solar array so that we can be independent of the crumbling electrical grid and operate without a monthly electric bill.
In terms of the building project, while the plastering team moves from building to building, the roof team hopes to have the buildings closed in by the end of February or early March. As we complete that work, the plumber will train our Seniors to connect the toilets to the sewer and the electrician will show us how to put in our wiring. We’ll still have a dozen small items to complete – putting the glass into the windows, polishing the floors, doing the final clean-up. But we’re on target to be done by the end of April.
As Tinashe and Dennis have worked with the Seniors at the building site, the Council of Elders have been continuing their wonderful programs with the younger children. Just this weekend, they began rehearsing with them for a special play for the Center opening!
Things are harder then ever here as prices continue to rise. Rents keep rising, and people now are paying $100 a month for two tiny rooms. Food prices for everything but vegetables are now well above what we pay in the U.S., and medical care is astronomically costly. We’ve managed to continue providing the safety net that was our first project and in December, Adrian Suskin, our ever-loyal guardian angel, sponsored a special food distribution. Our terrific doctor is still keeping people as healthy as possible when they live with water and electricity cut-offs and no money.
By the end of the year, we’re expecting that we’ll have an abundant garden and a functioning poultry project to help out our families and provide ZimKids with a bit of income. Once our solar panels are installed, we’ll begin networking our computers and training our young people so that we can open our very own Internet café and computer training center – the first one for miles around!
So, as we move into 2012, thank you again for all your support and encouragement. Every time officials stop by – from the community, the city, or from embassies – and admire what we’ve accomplished, we think with immense gratitude how far we have come because of the amazing generosity of our friends!