Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019



We have finished this field visit, and we are already planning for our next visit in September 2019.

If you want to learn more, please consider joining us for our annual Zienzele Night Celebration!

Both Prisca and Nancy will be on hand to answer your questions!

extra-fun benefit of following our blog:

the villages that make up the stations along the Walk for Zienzele (our major annual fundraising event) will now be familiar to you!

gather sponsors, recruit friends, showcase your knowledge of rural Zimbabwean villages, enjoy a leisurely walk around Occom Pond AND join us at the Zienzele Night celebration right after the Walk! All Walk participants are invited to attend Z-Night as our guests!

Child-Headed Household day!

A huge thanks to Lukana’s Dream, the Listen Center, and Jane McCarthy for generous donations of clothing and shoes!

A huge thanks to Lukana’s Dream, the Listen Center, and Jane McCarthy for generous donations of clothing and shoes!

Help us support the most vulnerable children we work with!

Join our Child-Headed Household program!

your annual donation provides a child-headed household with food, clothing, school supplies and school fees.

information about the program HERE

and our online donation portal is HERE

New shoes for Precious, Yvonne, and Tatenda

New shoes for Precious, Yvonne, and Tatenda

Manetta and her Zienzele supplies

Manetta and her Zienzele supplies

Sadza for supper tonight!

Sadza for supper tonight!

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

This past weekend we hosted our secondary school students from all villages at Zienzele House in Masvingo:

“Our students in Forms 4-5-6 came to Masvingo for the weekend-15 of them! Eight young women and seven young men. Blessing and Solomon picked everyone up on Friday afternoon and they arrived at Z-House about 4:30. We gave them time to settle in and then we all began preparing dinner together- a real treat: beef, sadza and kovo greens. Over dinner we all introduced ourselves- these students are from six different secondary schools, so many did not know each other- for many this was their first trip into Masvingo!

We started conversation by asking them to talk about their future plans. One boy and two girls in Form 6 thought about being lawyers because those are the only A-level courses that there are teachers for. They hadn't thought of where they would study, and didn't know the requirements. We went over some of that, and then also talked about the importance of making a ‘Plan B’ and many chose teaching. Form 4 had many who thought about being nurses, but again, and not surprisingly, they did not have a clear idea of where they would or could go to study, so we talked about options there too. We even had an aspiring accountant who didn't know what an accountant was! Asking a young person to talk through their plans for the future might seem like ‘no big deal’ but conversations like this really drive home for us how important it is to give our students the chance to have this talk with adults who can offer ideas and guidance!

Friday night everyone was understandably a bit shy- meeting new people, being asked new questions! That said, once Prisca and I went to bed, the secondary students started talking with the Zienzele All-Stars that live at Z-House. I was very excited to hear that the students wanted to talk about how they (the All-Stars) made decisions- such an important thing, and something our All-Stars are great role models for!

Saturday morning, after breakfast, everyone headed out for their ‘college tours.’ They visited Masvingo Hospital for a very good tour and informational talk about the nursing program there; they visited Great Zimbabwe University and saw the Law School, the Polytechnic facilities, the Education School, and the main campus. Then we went for a special treat: we drove to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins for a great tour and the students all hiked to the top! Great Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an important cultural touchstone- so great to facilitate a visit for these students!

After a long day, everyone returned to Z-House for dinner and a program with Mr. Marimi on relationships, CERTs (thanks Cynthia!), domestic violence, and the importance of maintaining Shona language (as opposed to Shonglish). By Sunday this was a changed group: more talkative and many sparkling personalities emerged! They will finish the next term and then take the national exams- those will determine future possibilities. They had a great adventure, starting planning for what comes next, met new peers, and we all got to know each other much better!

GREAT work by our All-Star staff: Blessing, Petronella, Solomon, Godknows and Daniel went above and beyond to make these students feel comfortable, and to make sure they got the most out of the weekend. We all gathered together tonight to celebrate a great weekend!”

Daniel, Petronella, Solomon, Godknows: WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR ALL-STARS!!!!

Daniel, Petronella, Solomon, Godknows: WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR ALL-STARS!!!!

a full van en route to a big adventure!

a full van en route to a big adventure!

an important conversation with Mr. Marimi

an important conversation with Mr. Marimi

What was that we said about sparkling personalities?!? Such a pleasure to get to know these young people!!

What was that we said about sparkling personalities?!? Such a pleasure to get to know these young people!!

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

This is what it looks like when our dreams come true:

“Chikofa is Number One!!
Largest number of orphans in school.....63
Biggest school fee payout......$685
Largest basket project......60 members
Most money paid for baskets......$3,345.
Most chickens.........115
Most goats.....8 (with 6 expecting!) 
Gardens ready for planting- they even bought their own gate!
They told us about their micro-lending within the basket groups- we LOVE to see this happening!!
Mai Mbaiya is an effective and very well respected leader.
The rest of the community appreciates and respects these women’s accomplishments- these ladies are important people in Chikofa!
They are amazing!!”



A big welcome for Zienzele at Mapagamuri!

A big welcome for Zienzele at Mapagamuri!

We think Primrose is pretty great!


Mapagamuri baskets: EXCELLENT!

Your first opportunity to buy the stunning baskets we are purchasing this trip will be

at our annual Zienzele Night Celebration

May 22nd (Wednesday) 5-8 PM

Dartmouth Outing Club, Hanover NH


Thank you to Lukana’s Dream in Bethel for these finger puppets- a big hit!

Thank you to Lukana’s Dream in Bethel for these finger puppets- a big hit!

Zienzele Kids at Chikofa Primary!

Zienzele Kids at Chikofa Primary!

This beautiful lady is Mbuya Dzinganai of Chikofa!

This beautiful lady is Mbuya Dzinganai of Chikofa!

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

Monday in Chamatutu:

“Chamatutu is at the proverbial end of the road: a small isolated village and one of our newer groups. In the past, they have struggled: they had to learn how to make baskets, they have no water for a garden, they have a poorly motivated population ( on the whole, folks are more interested in gold panning) so today was a HUGE surprise….

We met with the kids- not terribly bubbly, low aspirations. This is not unusual in villages that are new to Zienzele- it takes TIME to develop trust- we must remember that Chamtutu is early in their journey toward thriving self-reliance! Visits to new groups like this also remind Prisca and I to stay conscious of the profound changes we have witnessed in our ‘original’ groups. Sometimes we lose sight of that, having been at their side for each incremental change.

Then we met with the women. There were only about twenty women, many having left the group as their orphans left school. This is for sure one of our smallest groups. They talked with us of the challenges of people not making the baseline of 6 baskets each, of disagreements within the group, and of the inability to attract new members-hopefully it was helpful to talk it through with us.

Then they revealed the baskets.


A total shock! Chamatutu’s sales wound up equal to the sales of Berejena-a larger, more experienced group!!

We all expressed how impressed we were, and naturally they were very pleased with themselves!

They also got to experience the immediate reward for their excellent basket production: we increased their student number to 26! They also got 2nd prize for the poultry show, so despite their somewhat glum tone, SOMETHING sure is working in Chamatutu!

We then went to Arch Munaka Secondary for a typically dreary meeting with the headmaster (again, once Zienzele is well-established, all these relationships improve) and then we met with our 13 secondary school students. We have five Form 5 students, and we look forward to getting to know them better when they come to Masvingo to join our Zienzele secondary student workshops next weekend!”




Chamatutu Basket Group visit: small group, BIG baskets!

advanced dispatch from Nancy and Prisca: “CHAMATUTU: EXCELLENT BASKETS!'“

advanced dispatch from Nancy and Prisca: “CHAMATUTU: EXCELLENT BASKETS!'“

Did we mention that your first opportunity to purchase baskets from this Spring 2019 field visit will be at our

Annual Zienzele Night Celebration?

May 22nd (Wednesday) 5-8 PM at the Dartmouth Outing Club in Hanover NH

Preparing sadza for lunch, and Chamatutu’s view of the Munaka mountain range.

Workshop Day in Chiware!





Petronella joined us again today to lead workshops that encourage Zienzele kids to stay focused and stay in school. Petronella is an amazing young woman, and someone we have supported and encouraged since she was very young: she was one of our original Child-Headed Households, she was part of our original drive to keep girls in school through secondary school, and she is a shining star of our post-secondary education program! All this AND she is an engaging and charismatic workshop leader- we feel such joy seeing her mature into such a wonderful, resilient, healthy, and strong Zimbabwean woman!

Petronella is currently at Great Zimbabwe University studying Geography and Environmental Studies. She is seeking an internship at a mining company and came to offer to work for Zienzele for the chance to earn the money she will need to cover transportation for this internship. Together the three of us agreed that she will clean the Masvingo Zienzele House and help with the roofing project we have scheduled there in May in exchange for the money she needs to make her internship happen.

If you would like to contribute to our support for Petronella’s next step, contact us!

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

Sunday: “It's Chiware-our last workshop of this trip! We left with our All-Stars, Petronella and Daniel, and we picked up Chipiwa and two new interns. When we arrived at Chiware, there were 118 children waiting for us. We did the usual intro with dividing up by school, then grade, then boy/girl, then ‘what is your dream’. We met many aspiring nurses, soldiers, teachers, a few doctors, lawyers and two pilots! Our workshop continued with our Be Safe Be Strong Be Focused theme and addressed the challenges of HIV, puberty, nutrition, abuse, drugs and alcohol, and early marriage, with the fundamental message about staying in school as a way to stay safe and strong. As always, the day included plenty of active games, songs, dramatic play and so much good fun with other Zienzele children. We are always moved by the difference it makes when Zienzele kids gather and see that they are not alone, and experience just how strong their community is. GREAT to see.”

Berejena Workshop Day!

“We were greeted by 88 kids from Berejena,

Makovere, Paradza and Musvovi”





Godknows led a wonderfully open and interactive workshop today, where he shared his own story: how he struggled with poverty, how he cared for his aging Gogo (GRANDMOTHER), how he went away to South Africa, and how when he finally came back to Zimbabwe, he got focused and stayed focused! Best of all, he shared how as a result of staying focused, he is now successful as a student at Great Zimbabwe University!

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

Saturday: “First we picked up workshop leader Chipewa Mugabe (no relation, we assume), her interns Aubrey and Princess, and our Zienzele All-Star of the day, Godknows Bvacatcha, and we all headed for our Grade 3-7 workshop in Berejena. We were greeted by EIGHTY-EIGHT kids from Berejena, Makovere, Paradza, and Musvovi. The theme of the workshop was again Be Safe! Be Strong! Be Focused! and our workshop covered issues of health, puberty, HIV, drugs/alcohol, and early marriage- all challenges one encounters on the road of life toward your dream. Many of the children want to be teachers, soldiers, nurses, drivers, and we even got one lawyer. The children were great, everyone very open and interactive, and for Prisca and I, the highlight was seeing Godknows share his own story of struggles with poverty, caring for an aging Gogo (grandmother), going to South Africa in search of work (something that is a high risk choice), and finally coming back to Zimbabwe, getting and staying focused, and now being at Great Zimbabwe University! Lots of games, songs, an exciting game of frisbee toss, and all in all a super-fun day for the kids with a lot of education tossed in. it was GREAT to be there!”

Nancy's notes from the field: Spring 2019

Saturday in Musvovi “We went back to Musvovi for our official school visit and basket purchase. We met with all the kids- forty-eight of them! Prisca and I were impressed by their confidence and willingness to speak English with Mai Joseph (Nancy). These students are speaking at a much higher level than any of the other schools, and several of them had used their English skills in the entertainment program at the Poultry Show.

Zienzele All-Star for today: Darlington Gumbo is one of three kids in a Child-Headed Household that we support. He is in Grade 7 and was #1 in his class last term! Hooray Darlington! He wants to be a doctor. Prisca and I are determined to figure out a way for him to attend Berejena Secondary School.

We then went to meet the caregivers- they were all still pumped about the poultry show. This is becoming a much younger group with a promising 15 new members- so there were many little babies, children of the younger generation. The three best weavers are aging and have been sick; their influence was missed, as both the quality and quantity were down- something we have seen in other groups where new younger members are stepping up and learning what the expectations are. Musvovi has often been tops in basket sales, but this visit their total from the sale was less than Rungai. I think the focus of the village has been on the chickens and perhaps the baskets paid the price! That said, we had a productiove meeting with the women, and as with the other groups, I suspect quality and quantity will improve as younger members catch on.”

Rhaditzho Shumba

In a previous post about Berejena, we introduced you to Rhadidzho Shumba.

from that post: “Our one remaining child is Rhatidzo Shumba- she is in fifth grade, and she has cerebral palsy. Her family chose not to care for her, but four years ago, an elderly neighbor who had been part of Zienzele took her in. Zienzele has supported Rhaditzo and her aging caregiver for the past four years as part of our Child-Headed Household program. She has done well in school and wants to be a lawyer. With continued support, we hope to see her reach her goal!”

We went back to Berejena yesterday, and we thought you might like to see a photo of Rhaditzho and her beautiful smile!

If you would like to join our effort to support Rhaditzho, please consider sponsorship through our Child-Headed Household program.