Wednesday: “Berejena was the first village we connected with back when we began, and the Berejena group has always been a source of beautiful, prize winning baskets, but the broader changes we have seen over the years were evident in what we encountered at Berejena today- the baskets were not up to the usual standard we have seen from this group.
As our older caregivers have left the project and as fewer households are losing their ‘parent’ generation to AIDS, our representative Rebecca has found new women to step into the project. These are women who might not be caring for orphans, but they are caring for their own children, so they are motivated to join the group in order to work toward school fees. These women are new to our process, and do not yet know the skill expectations for the baskets— I think that explains the shift in quality. We went over expectations, and next visit I suspect we will see improved basket quality.
There is now only one child-headed household left in Berejena!!!! This means that the households we have supported have now grown into adulthood, and improvements in HIV status-awareness and anti-retroviral treatment have resulted in fewer households deprived of a parent figure in Berejena. 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!
Petronella Chikwati got my vote for Zienzele All Star of the Day! She wrote a great letter to Prisca and I ( "the most important people in my life" ) this morning with the message that “challenges do not affect my studies, but rather strengthen my faith to study hard”. She 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 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.