Our biggest gathering EVER!

We can hardly believe it: FOUR HUNDRED WOMEN came to our basket show/ grand finale gathering!!!

We cannot understate: conditions in Zimbabwe right now are so SO difficult.

Yet, as hard as conditions are, in the stunningly resilient women and children we work with, we are seeing so much that gives us hope and keeps us motivated!

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The Basket Show: our grand finale!!

We will not tease you: here are our Fall 2019 First and Second place winners!!!

(once these prize winning sets of baskets make their way back to the US, they will be available for purchase- if you would like to buy these beauties, check out our upcoming basket sale schedule OR if none of our venues are within reach, email us- if we still have them, we can ship them to you)

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“ma woko ma woko”     Rebecca Utete got the celebration started!

“ma woko ma woko” Rebecca Utete got the celebration started!

Child-Headed Household visits

I want our CHH sponsors to understand: thanks to your generosity, this visit we have delivered material supplies and support to SIXTY child-headed households. Words cannot describe how huge your impact is- for our most vulnerable children, $300 a year changes their WORLD.
— Nancy

Every Child-Headed Household receives:

10kg of mealy meal for sadza, sugar, salt, soap, peanut butter, cooking oil, beans, and a selection of clothes and shoes donated to us (thank you so much!) and Zienzele pays school fees and the cost of the required uniforms.

Want to be a part of this wonderful program?

Support a child-headed household for one year with a donation of $300

Would you like to supply us with donations of school supplies and clothing? please email us to learn which school supplies and which types of clothing we can accept!

Blessing and Mai Panashe help get nine CHHs in Mawadze sorted with their supplies!

Blessing and Mai Panashe help get nine CHHs in Mawadze sorted with their supplies!

Berejena CHHs  Know what’s cool?  Seeing our most vulnerable families (our child-headed households) forming a supportive friendly and safe community with each other!

Berejena CHHs

Know what’s cool?

Seeing our most vulnerable families (our child-headed households) forming a supportive friendly and safe community with each other!

Rungai CHHs

Rungai CHHs

ZCC: leaps and bounds!!

What a thrill to see this project take shape!

So much appreciation for Mr. Mutatisi, our head builder (the elevated and authoritative figure in the last image), and all the people who worked so hard on this construction!

Nemauzhe

Nemauzhe Grade Six: Everjoy (in the V-neck at the left) is number 1in her class and wants to be a doctor!

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His name says it all: Confidence!

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Twas a cold and drizzly day when we met with the Nemauzhe basket-weaving group…

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Wowza! Amazing basket selection at Nemauzhe! Their supported-student number was raised from 31 to 35 because of this great production- high quality and many more baskets than usual!

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… and that called for a Happy Dance!

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Zienzele Weekend 'Camp': SIXTY-TWO STRONG!

This year 32 girls and 30 boys (actually: young men and young women!) participated in our Zienzele Weekend! Day One focused on career choices and paths. Many hoping to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, and teachers. We were pleased this year to have only one aspiring soldier. We also talked about the value of having not just one plan, but plans A B & C. Students in Forms 4 and 6 will take the national exams next week, and those results will determine options- so the timing of this discussion feels productive. Our post-secondary All-Stars again shared their stories, and they again did a great job of speaking openly about their struggles and the rewards they have seen from persistence.

This year 32 girls and 30 boys (actually: young men and young women!) participated in our Zienzele Weekend! Day One focused on career choices and paths. Many hoping to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, and teachers. We were pleased this year to have only one aspiring soldier. We also talked about the value of having not just one plan, but plans A B & C. Students in Forms 4 and 6 will take the national exams next week, and those results will determine options- so the timing of this discussion feels productive. Our post-secondary All-Stars again shared their stories, and they again did a great job of speaking openly about their struggles and the rewards they have seen from persistence.

The wonderful Chippewa presenting on gender inequality and gender-based violence.

The wonderful Chippewa presenting on gender inequality and gender-based violence.

Lunch break!

Lunch break!

Faith Simbayani is the youngest member of one of our first Child-Headed Households. You might recognize Faith’s surname: she has grown up with a great role-model in Zienzele All-Star  Tendai Simbayani .

Faith Simbayani is the youngest member of one of our first Child-Headed Households. You might recognize Faith’s surname: she has grown up with a great role-model in Zienzele All-Star Tendai Simbayani.

Zienzele Representatives from Berejena, Mai Susan and Mai Panashe. These women have been crucial for the success of the weekend: they not only cooked for camp, but they stayed overnight to make sure everyone behaved (they are no-nonsense ladies- good thing they couldn’t see those guys goofing for the camera!)

Zienzele Representatives from Berejena, Mai Susan and Mai Panashe. These women have been crucial for the success of the weekend: they not only cooked for camp, but they stayed overnight to make sure everyone behaved (they are no-nonsense ladies- good thing they couldn’t see those guys goofing for the camera!)

Forgive the furtively-taken photos: Takudzwa (L) and Patrick (R) were our brave expert explainers for the nuts and bolts of reproductive anatomy. Patrick explained the female reproductive system and Takudzwa explained the male reproductive system (with exceptional comic flair)- well done!

Truth or Myth: this is a FANTASTIC game shared by Cynthia Stadler! Groups discuss whether statements re: reproductive heath are true or a myth. Each statement spurred very active intense discussions within every group- everyone learned very important information, and the winners got to get in line first for food! Nothing like a little friendly competition!

Truth or Myth: this is a FANTASTIC game shared by Cynthia Stadler! Groups discuss whether statements re: reproductive heath are true or a myth. Each statement spurred very active intense discussions within every group- everyone learned very important information, and the winners got to get in line first for food! Nothing like a little friendly competition!

It seems simple, but this ‘unwinding game’ gives all our participants the chance to move around a bit, and communicate with each other in a relaxed way. These young men and women focus 110% on serious stuff most of the day, so this ‘game’ is good break.

It seems simple, but this ‘unwinding game’ gives all our participants the chance to move around a bit, and communicate with each other in a relaxed way. These young men and women focus 110% on serious stuff most of the day, so this ‘game’ is good break.

Drama Workshop: four groups acted out issues re: positive /negative relationships, substance abuse, gender-based violence, gender roles, and more. Participants really engaged- everyone put their all into the acting and came up with great messages to share with their peers- SO important for such a vulnerable group of young people. GREAT END TO A GREAT CAMP WEEKEND!

Drama Workshop: four groups acted out issues re: positive /negative relationships, substance abuse, gender-based violence, gender roles, and more. Participants really engaged- everyone put their all into the acting and came up with great messages to share with their peers- SO important for such a vulnerable group of young people. GREAT END TO A GREAT CAMP WEEKEND!

Musvovi and Chomuruvati

Musvovi: a road ‘less taken’

Musvovi Grade Seven students: they had just finished a FOUR HOUR national exam. The results of these tests determine their ability to continue on to secondary school. Today was the Math exam and they all said the math was easy!

Musvovi Grade Seven students: they had just finished a FOUR HOUR national exam. The results of these tests determine their ability to continue on to secondary school. Today was the Math exam and they all said the math was easy!

Baby Alice: mother brought her 5month old to Musvovi today for the “baby clinic” done by the district health office.

Baby Alice: mother brought her 5month old to Musvovi today for the “baby clinic” done by the district health office.

In Chomuruvati, students play a few games of Nhdo Nhdo while they wait for us to get started!

Mapagamuri

The ladies of Mapagamuri greet Nancy and Prisca with a particularly enthusiastic welcome every visit, and this visit was no different! We distributed a truckload of millet that supplied both our caregivers and Child-Headed Households in Mapagamuri, and we checked in with the robust group of Zienzele students!

So: how do these women dye the sisal they use for these gorgeous baskets?!?

By knowing their world. The seed pods on this tree are the vegetable source of the dye that produces the grey that shows up in the baskets we sell both online and at events. To produce the exciting bright colors (turquoise, purple, bright blue, pink, etc) our women’s groups collectively decide to purchase dyes- but for MANY of the ocher tones, the deep browns, the darkest blacks, the grays, and the rusty reds, our basket makers use native plants and trees.

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The Zienzele Community Center: PROGRESS!!!!

After a few days away, we returned to see very encouraging progress at the ZCC worksite!!

The walls are inching upward as concrete drying allows, the circular foundation is coming along (Jim Clark the engineer wants to draw our attention to the fact that those perfect circles were etched with a stick and a string!), and the work group has come together as a self-motivating bunch.

Also of note: the Community Center committee in Mupagamuri had been hesitant, putting off the initial steps of construction. Given how tenuous everything feels these days, their reluctance toward taking the first step of buying construction materials makes a kind of sense- it is very hard to count on promises and plans under these conditions. But Prisca and Nancy visited them and after a stretch of trying to convince them with words, we invited them to come see the Berejena worksite. They made the trip, and returned ON FIRE! They have plans to get the bricks to their site in time for March, and have made enthusiastic commitments to the project- a very hopeful sign! It sure is great to know that in Berejena, we have an example that will inspire other communities.

There was a great deal of hard work going on all day at the ZCC worksite- these sweet kids entertained both themselves and the rest of us by hopping around in the concrete bags! Who among us doesn’t know how fun that is!?!  This is a very important reminder that even in places where the conditions sound unbearable, kids are kids, people are people, and there is ever-so-human joy in everyday life.

There was a great deal of hard work going on all day at the ZCC worksite- these sweet kids entertained both themselves and the rest of us by hopping around in the concrete bags! Who among us doesn’t know how fun that is!?!

This is a very important reminder that even in places where the conditions sound unbearable, kids are kids, people are people, and there is ever-so-human joy in everyday life.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT OUR ZIENZELE COMMUNITY CENTER FUND, PLEASE CONTACT OUR TREASURER JIM CLARK AT:

jhclark48@gmail.com

Architect Christopher Smith donated his time and expertise to a high-efficiency design that takes into consideration local constraints and traditional architectural techniques- thank you so much, Christopher!

Architect Christopher Smith donated his time and expertise to a high-efficiency design that takes into consideration local constraints and traditional architectural techniques- thank you so much, Christopher!

Mawadze

Pictured below:

The ladies of Mawadze like to set up their baskets for a dramatic reveal, and their baskets are consistently top-notch! We meet on the rock under the tree- you may remember a very similar image of our Spring meeting! This year included some debate over new product ideas, always encouraging to see innovation! At Mawadze School there are 63 students supported by Zienzele, including our Grade 5 superstars!

(The Zimbabwean flag is still officially at half-staff for the death of Mugabe and funeral singing lasts through the night.)

Chikofa

The Chikofa basket-making group set a new record!

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The Zimbabwean economy/currency market/inflation rate is in full chaos, but Zienzele caregivers are able to keep these kids in school because all our transactions are based on USD. One thing Prisca and Nancy are troubled to see: based on what they observe, it is entirely possible that in some schools, the only children able to have fees paid will be Zienzele kids. The cost per term in USD has not changed- but the amount in Zim dollars rises almost daily. More than ever, basket sales are a crucial means of supporting our mission. Please consider helping us expand our reach by directing friends to our online basket shop ( https://www.zienzelefoundation.org/basket-shop  ) or to our basket selling events ( https://www.zienzelefoundation.org/new-events-1 ).  Every basket we can work together to sell? It sends children like the kids in this photo to school. And that makes a WORLD of difference to each and every child.

The Zimbabwean economy/currency market/inflation rate is in full chaos, but Zienzele caregivers are able to keep these kids in school because all our transactions are based on USD. One thing Prisca and Nancy are troubled to see: based on what they observe, it is entirely possible that in some schools, the only children able to have fees paid will be Zienzele kids. The cost per term in USD has not changed- but the amount in Zim dollars rises almost daily. More than ever, basket sales are a crucial means of supporting our mission. Please consider helping us expand our reach by directing friends to our online basket shop (https://www.zienzelefoundation.org/basket-shop ) or to our basket selling events (https://www.zienzelefoundation.org/new-events-1).

Every basket we can work together to sell? It sends children like the kids in this photo to school. And that makes a WORLD of difference to each and every child.

Getting organized!

We take time at the beginning of our field visits to check in with our regional representatives/coordinators and get organized- in addition to everything else they do, these women ensure that our caregivers and children know when we will visit their village, and when and where our workshop gatherings will happen. SUPER. IMPORTANT.

Our blog regulars might recognize these Zienzele All-Stars taking fun seriously while relaxing over a Scrabble game. These guys have been a huge help with construction of the Zienzele Community Center- this morning, Blessing, Solomon, Daniel, Godknows and Munashe took off at 4:30AM to go dig the latrine holes….. (to be continued)

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(latrine holes, continued) … which were carefully sited and marked by the sanitation action group representatives in what Prisca and I have dubbed “poop in the toilet" uniforms. All blushing aside, our community center has the chance to model best sanitation practices, and these guys are helping us do so!

Sure is a striking reminder of how much we take for granted when it comes to even the most basic sanitation considerations.

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Autumn 2019: The Zienzele Community Center!

AND AWAY WE GO!

AND AWAY WE GO!

Construction begins with a site visit, a gathering of the work crew, digging the foundation trenches, and prepping a water basin for mixing concrete. Tafadzwa was eager to help the grown-ups out!

Leaps and bounds! Bricks are being carried, concrete is being mixed, the bricks are being laid- walls are taking shape! We are all very excited about the circular foundation for the traditional communal kitchen!