The most successful of our projects has been making traditional Zimbabwean baskets. Basket making is a traditional art form and we encourage the caregivers to involve orphans in the process to keep the tradition alive.
The Zienzele Foundation buys baskets from the projects, providing modest but important earnings to their makers. The baskets are then sold in the United States and abroad with all earnings returned to the villages to pay school fees for our identified orphans.
There are garden projects in all 23 school districts where we work. The "families" caring for orphans are given plots in the community garden space for their use. Vegetables grown are used for family consumption as well as income.
The Foundation supports these efforts by providing seeds, fencing, and arranging education programs by the agicultural extension agents in the area. There is a great deal of friendly competition among the groups and an annual Garden Show gives prizes to the best gardens. Drought is a constant threat to the success of the gardens, so the need for irrigation systems remains critical.
Zienzele's sewing groups have grown and prospered. Originally the foundation provided a sewing machine per group and the materials needed to create school uniforms to sell. With their continuing success and the support of a donor, the groups are now making children's clothing, choir uniforms, and sports uniforms for the schools. Groups have used some of the profits to subsidize the purchase of more sewing machines.