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Chinhoyi: Then and Now

By | Chinhoyi School Community | No Comments

You often hear of schools in Africa being built by donors and volunteers. But do you ever stop to think about the impact that building has on a child, a teacher, a parent, a community? 

In the remote and forgotten area of Chinhoyi, over one thousand children are registered at the local school. But this school had nothing when we started working together back in 2010, save for a few dilapidated, bare and unsafe buildings. There were no facilities, no learning materials. Only 90 children could even afford to attend.

Many of them had to walk long distances to get there, sometimes on an empty stomach and with a dry mouth. Once they arrived, they had to squash up with others on a hard stone under the shade of a tree. If they weren’t early enough, they had to sit in the scorching 30 degree heat for as long as they could endure it. An old blackboard lent against a tree and hardly any of the children could even make out what the teacher was writing. If it rained – lessons were over! They may have been going to “school”, but this kind of environment was just another struggle as they tried desperately to focus and learn a little something before the long walk home again.

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Today, over 1000 children are attending the school each day. Many still have to walk to the long distance, and many are still hungry. But they all arrive to a new school. Classes are held in new, concrete buildings, providing safety and relief. These rooms are filled with the necessary learning materials to stimulate and inspire. There is clean water flowing from the borehole pump, readily available to drink all day. Green vegetables are growing in the field, which the community have planted themselves. Lunch is served each day and there are clean toilet blocks to use.

Now the children feel a part of a real SCHOOL – giving them a sense of self-worth and hope. Today, the school is the centre of a community, where children can uncover knowledge and discover their creativity, teachers feel valuable, and parents come to meet for prayer and entertainment.

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Water Pump Continues to Improve Health & Learning in Chinhoyi

By | Chinhoyi School Community | No Comments

In 2011, Fredrik Eklund donated enough funds to install a borehole and water pump on the Chinhoyi school premises, for the children and wider community to use.

Children, teachers and parents now have a permanent water source that they can readily access.

The addition of clean water to the school has had immeasurable benefits and has truly transformed the life cycle of the entire community. It’s remarkable to see the difference clean water, washed hands and a quenched thirst can make to remote rural schools!

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How is the water pump helping the Chinhoyi community today?

  1. Improved Learning

The children of Chinhoyi now have clean water to drink in between their classes. This has had such a positive impact on pupil’s performance as enduring thirst makes both teaching and learning very difficult, affecting concentration, motivation and ability. The school’s water source has also contributed to an increase in the overall attendance at school. It is known throughout the community that there is a reliable source of clean drinking water here, which most families do not have at home.

  1. Better Health and Hygiene

The water source has provided better hygiene and sanitation amongst the community. As well as fresh water to wash with, families now have clean water to use for cooking and preparing food. This has reduced the risk of water-borne diseases that previously forced many children to be absent from school, if not threatening their lives. There hasn’t been a Cholera outbreak since the water pump was installed four years ago!

  1. Community Harvesting

Good water harvesting by the community means that any excess is used for the agriculture plot, turning dry dirt into flourishing vegetation. The produce is given out on harvest day to families with many orphan children in their care. Being able to grow nutritious food means that families can now provide for their starving children, many of whom are HIV positive.

Thank you Fredrik Eklund for your incredibly generous support within the Chinhoyi community!

Water harvestingReceiving veg from garden

Impacting communities through conservation farming

By | Update | No Comments

After last year’s agricultural workshops, our Community Officer, Peter Kazembe, travelled out into the community to assess the impact of  the programme and find out how participants are doing on their own plots. These are just a few stories from over 30 families who will have food for the next year. After these amazing results, we anticipate that many more families will be signing up for the programme in 2016. 

“This programme has been welcomed by so many from the community. Participants have learned a lot, especially about the importance of mulching (applying a thick ‘blanket’ of fallen leaves and grass which helps reduce water loss from soil, suppresses weeds and protects against extreme temperature).

This season has been the driest in many years, but those who have been following instructions from the workshops have successfully harvested and are escaping the severe hunger that many of their neighbours face. Those who did very well on the demo plots have seen an overwhelming admiration from their fellow neighbours, who have promised to join them next season.

Many participants have fallen in love with this programme, as they are now discovering the greatest secret behind it. They have learned that conservation farming is achievable no matter what type of rain patterns may come. It is quite obvious that in the next ploughing season the number of people engaging in conservation farming will increase. Truly speaking, this programme came as an eye opener to many people in this community.”

Mr. Gungungu with his well-mulched plot

Despite poor rains and the dry spell, Mr. Gungungu is a hard worker. He proved his this by mulching close to three hectares (his entire plot!) and making lots of planting stations. His crops are not suffering moist stress but are growing just as well as they would in normal rainfall. He worked tirelessly all summer and his neighbors are stunned by his incredible plot.

MR Gungungu

Mr. Daison and his soaring crops

Mr Daison has been working tirelessly with Mr. Gungungu as a team, and they are doing wonders! The height of his crops alone speaks volumes in this dry spell. He managed to prepare his whole field, almost three hectares!  He is one of our most successful participants.

Mr. Daison and MR Kazembe

Mr. and Mrs. Mahwendepi promise some fireworks next season

This couple worked very hard all summer making their planting stations, successfully planting close to three hectares of maize. Though they did not manage to mulch the whole area, they have a good looking plot and with better rainfall will certainly manage to get an even better harvest.

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Mr. Aaron anticipates a bumper harvest

He is a young man who has passion for farming and as seen in the picture he is standing right on top of thick mulch. He did a great job during summer collecting grasses for his plot as evidenced in the photograph and there is no doubt about it. His plot is quite health and come what may he is going to have a bumper harvest.

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A state of disaster declared in Zimbabwe

By | Update | No Comments

A state of disaster has been declared in Zimbabwe due to the current drought that has been worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon. An estimated 2.4 million people are now in need of food aid, more than a quarter of the population.

There has been abnormally low rainfall since last year and there is no sign of water in many rivers. Fields are dry and bare, and thousands of cattle have died because their grazing areas have become parched.

We are stepping up our efforts to give children in the Chinhoyi region relief and keep them coming to school through our Feeding Programme.

But it is not only children who are suffering. Last week our Community Officer was approached by this old lady pleading for help. She looks after many orphan children since their parents (her own children) have passed away over the last few years. She is overwhelmed, weak and has no other place to turn.

Please help us raise awareness of this desperate situation, or make a donation here to directly impact these families now facing a desperate situation.

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Chinhoyi Secondary School Classrooms

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The Chinhoyi Secondary school now has their first ever classroom block! The building, completed in 2015, consists of 3 large rooms housing 3 different year groups.

The secondary school is small when compared to the primary school (950 children vs 300 children). This is due to the rise in fees children face upon entering the high school. Unfortunately, many families are no longer able to afford school, and many young teenagers are sent out to work, or worst, become young brides and mothers.

We are working with the school and parents to educate families of the risks involved in taking these desperate routes. Encouraging them to keep their children in education is part of a long-term plan to stop the poverty cycle.

Thanks to our friends Fredrik & Derek, in 2015 we managed to fund school fees for 55 of these children. This has paid for their entire high school education!

The money received was then used to build their first ever classroom block, which was opened for use on 11th January 2016.2013-10-22 08.17.07revelation kazembe - 2013-10-22 08.15.50

Feeding Programme: Latest News

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We would like to say a very sincere thank you to all our loyal supporters! We have had such a wonderful response to our plea to continue and expand the Feeding Programme.

The children we work with in Chinhoyi are from very deprived families who struggle to survive. This means many children often arrive at school extremely hungry.

Our Feeding Programme has already brought relief to so many of these children. However, in 2015 we were only able to feed the very youngest children at Chinhoyi Primary. This meant that we had to turn away the older children, who were also hungry.

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However, the severity of the problem with all children attending the school was soon realised. The Headmaster found out that some children were going without food for periods of up to two days.

Because of your recent support, we are happy to say that we can now continue the programme into 2016. Not only this, we can now also make the programme available to the WHOLE primary school! Thanks to your donations, we can ensure the older children are also well-fed and ready to thrive in their learning!

2016 still looks to be another difficult time with more drought predictions. However with your loyalty and support we can bring light and hope to their lives!

Our aim is to expand the programme to the neighbouring schools in this deprived, rural area, where more children are faced with hunger every day. Providing food will help improve these children’s concentration and performance at school. It will also give them further incentive to attend their classes rather than going out to work or beg.

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Feeding Programme Update

By | Update | One Comment

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to announce the launch of our much-needed feeding programme at the Chinhoyi Primary School from pre-school to Grade 2. Since then however, the food shortage many children were facing has worsened, as Zimbabwe has been hit with the worst drought in a decade.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that around 1.5 million Zimbabweans do not have enough food this year after a dramatic fall in maize production. As a result, our Chinhoyi primary school staff have been struggling. The Head Teacher recently appealed for help due to high absentee levels caused by shortages of food, stating “pupils are going two or three days without eating food.”

We have worked very hard to get attendance rates up and give these children the education opportunities they deserve.  We cannot accept that all our hard work is diminishing and children are absent due to hunger problems. In response to their appeal, we have successfully sourced funding to extend the feeding programme to more children. We will be offering the children Mahewu – a traditional Zimbabwean porridge-based-drink fermented with sorghum or finger millet malt, and fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, sourced from a local organisation.

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We cannot emphasis enough the desperate situation so many families are facing. It is going beyond hunger and bordering starvation. These children need your help, not only to remain in full time education but also to survive the hunger problems they are facing  – they have nowhere else to turn! We have been so successful in creating a school community full of hope and aspirations. Next year could see many more wonderful achievements for these children – if only we can get them through this extremely difficult time.

For £30 a year we are keeping each child in school and providing a feeding programme and conservation agriculture training for many families.  It will be the best £30 you spend this Christmas.

Thank you and Merry Christmas from all at Zimbabwe’s Children.

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Foundations for Farming Workshops

By | Update | No Comments

This November, we collaborated with Foundations for Farming to deliver a three day agricultural training programme in the rural area of Chinhoyi.

Foundations for Farming is an incredible organisation working to help communities become self-sufficient by teaching them effective agricultural practices. Using Foundations for Farming methods, a family of six can feed itself for a whole year from a very small plot of land. That’s one bucket of maize per week, for every week of the year!

This means these families can use the land to turn a profit, so that they can eradicate hunger and have surplus yield to sell and pay their children’s school fees.

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Training began early in the hot morning sun with an introduction on the importance of maintaining healthy soil. Participants were taught how to prepare and maintain good soil structure without ploughing. While this method might sound unusual, it actually makes the soil less sensitive to erosion, increases its water absorption capacity and actually increases yields, all at a much lower cost because the soil doesn’t need to be turned. The group also learnt about how to keep a mulch cover on the surface of the soil, a thick ‘blanket’ of fallen leaves and grass which helps reduce soil water losses, suppress weeds and protects against extreme temperature.

Then everyone got to work pegging their own plots, following precise specifications in order to achieve optimal plant populations and give their plants the best chance to thrive. Everyone practiced planting seeds and applying fertilisers, as well as learning about different seed varieties and home remedies for pest control.

Participants were also taught about keeping a farm calendar and how to budget with the help of record books. With the training’s focus on how to make a profit, they learnt how to farm for value. For example, if a certain crop like maize is not fetching good prices on the market, this can be used to keep pigs which can then be sold at a higher price.

It’s possible to reduce the need for or even eradicate the requirement for fertiliser through the use of compost. This results in even lower input costs and a higher standard of living for the family. Participants learnt how to make compost making and “chicken manure soup” for the supply of nitrogen in plants.
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Certificates of attendance were issued to the participants and this was the happiest moment of all since they also received 2 seed packs to set up their own “pfumvudza” plots at their homes. Each pack contains enough agricultural lime, specially formulated basal fertiliser, seed maize, and ammonium nitrate needed for an 8m x 39m area of land. Measuring cups and instructions on how to plant and manage the crop are also included.

Participants were so happy that they have all written letters of appreciation to the organisers of the programme.

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Primary School Feeding Programme

By | Update | 2 Comments

We are very pleased to announce that we have launched a long awaited and much needed feeding program at the Primary School from pre-school to Grade 2.

Each week 276 children are given a nutritious meal kindly donated by Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in America. The rice pack formula is specially designed to meet the needs of the most severely malnourished children with all key vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

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This last winter term has been even more difficult than usual with most families producing no yields in the previous season due to harsh annual drought. The food programme was established for a set time to bring relief to the youngest children.

If funding allows we hope to continue with this program and expand up to further grades. All of the children in these photos were surviving on one meal at the end of each day, which causes issues in attendance and concentration. Receiving a nutrient rich meal will not only improve their health, well-being and attendance, it reduces the stress on guardians and families who suffer from severe hunger. Thank you to all those who have supported this programme.

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Zimbabwe’s Children Funds

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Many of our supporters ask how much of the money we receives goes to the children.

We work towards making it as close to 100% as possible. However there are times where we have unavoidable costs. It is difficult for people to understand that we have to travel to where the children are, find good and trustworthy people to work with them, account for every cent that is donated and continue to fundraise so we can reach out to more children just like Esther, Obert and Grace.

We are proud to say that even with these costs, we still manage to give no less than 92% to the children.

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SUPPORTERS!

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