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Your donations have fed 6,000 children!

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COVID-19 MAHEWU DISTRIBUTION
Visions of Obert trying to capture and cook a tiny bird for him and his Gogo have again been haunting us since schools in Zimbabwe closed due to the Coronavirus lockdown.    

Last month we managed to reach 204 of the most vulnerable families, in one area, to deliver maize and soya from our Conservation Agriculture farmers.  The relief and gratitude from elderly grandmothers and child led households was emotional.

However before lockdown over 5,000 children were receiving a nutritious porridge-mahewu drink every day at school – we couldn’t help by worry, what are they having now?

We had to be creative in making sure the children still received the mahewu – with 700% hyperinflation, a severe fuel and cash crises, lockdown restrictions and villages in impossible-to-reach locations – it had to be an impeccably organised operation by our small team, parent volunteers and school committees.  The transport chain varied from large trucks with sacks of food to scotch carts and cattle navigating through dried up river ravines.  We wanted to make sure we got food to the forgotten, beyond-reach children and families so everyone has an equal chance!During our fundraising campaign we set a new challenge for ourselves – to add 1,000 babies and toddlers to our list of children receiving mahewu every day.  We are so grateful to everyone who helped us reach that target and are happy to share with you that we have suceeded in delivering a supply of mahewu to 6,000 babies and children for the next 3 months!  Parents came to the schools, in small groups, to  collect the food according to the register and the number of children in their care.  Everyone expressed sincere gratitude and had the opportunity to talk with school staff and our small team in an attempt to release the heavy burdens they carry.THANK YOU!
 
Thank you to Ruff’s Kitchens, The Phyllis Aspinall Foundation, WTMD, some private philanthropists and our loyal monthly donors for enabling us to feed the many desperate families in Zimbabwe.  

“Us Zimbabweans know suffering! We have experienced very bad droughts, severe food shortages due to terrible economical problems and illness.  But these days feel even more hopeless… all of those things just get worse.  I can honestly say that it is only through people like you that we survive.  We just don’t know what else to do or say… THANK YOU and please don’t forget us.”  Teacher, Makonde District, Zimbabwe 
 All donations are presently going towards nutrition relief to ease suffering from starvation and contribute to health and well-being (during the Covid 19 pandemic).
PLEASE DONATE HERE

CA Farmers deliver food!

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Conservation Agriculture Farmers Feed 204 Families The CV-19 lockdown has been extended indefinitely in Zimbabwe as cases continue to rise – making the hunger crises even more urgent.  As Zimbabweans battle through the fourth year of drought, those farmers who received training in our Conservation Agriculture programme are successfully harvesting their crops and were able to ‘pay it forward’.Following the plan set out in our last newsletter – and after having enough food for their own families – we have spent the last 2 weeks working with those famers to deliver 12 tonnes of maize and soya to 204 vulnerable families within our school communities. We made sure we followed all the social distancing procedures including sanitisers, masks etc for all who were helping, as well as those who were handling the sacks. Thanks to you – our donors – for making this happen!  Seeing the tears of gratitude from elderly grandmothers, who have so many mouths to feed, was an emotional experience for everyone.Our next newsletter will show you how we have adapted our feeding programme to deal with the CV-19 hunger crises and our determination to feed over 6,000 children! 100% of your donations received here are being used to support this programme.Conservation Agriculture Training (Pre-Covid)We did not have a chance to let you know about the Conservation Agriculture trainees, from our school community, who were chosen to attend an advanced CA course “I WAS HUNGRY“.

These participants had already received basic training and had excelled, proving they wanted to improve their own lives and weren’t afraid of hard work.  The intensive course was held over a 2 week period in February 2020 at the Foundations for Farming head office in Harare. 

Amongst those chosen were struggling single mothers, widows, illiterate grandmothers, grown-up orphans who are responsible for their younger siblings, men who support huge and extended families and a young woman who single-handedly takes care of her own children, as well her deceased sister’s six. In total, 30 participants LEARNED and worked vigorously on only natural techniques for soil management, household herbicide remedies, planting stations, mulching, composting, agronomy, moringa plants, field mapping, agroforestry, financial planning and social harmony. 

All plots created through this training will be strategically placed in central, roadside positions so people walking by can see and learn from our participants.  Rewards and incentives are in place for passing on their training.

Thank you Foundations for Farming!ART GIVES BACK 
 
We urge you to read this inspirational story of one of Zimbabwe’s most talented artists who, in spite of his own formidable hurdles, chooses to give to so many others. 

Valentine Magutsa was born in 1975 in Mberengwa, Zimbabwe, but lived with his uncle, who worked at a tea estate in Chipinge, Manicaland. While at the tea estate he was surrounded by tea pickers and coffee pickers. This scenery formed part of his early painting subjects, inspiring Valentine to view life from a different perspective. He was fascinated by the reciprocal relationship between human beings and nature, and how each can influence the various conditions they find themselves in. 
His artistic talent was nurtured at Hartzell high school near Mutare – a scenic mountainous area with many waterfalls and forests. Valentine was continually
inspired and enrolled at Chinhoyi Technical Teachers College to study Art for both Industry and the Education sector. Valentine taught Art in Chipinge and Bulawayo until the year 2005, when he decided to pursue a full-time painting career after building a name internationally in the Arts field.
In November 2011, however, he was struck by crippling rheumatoid arthritis which has left him more or less bedridden and confined to using a wheelchair.
Despite all these challenges, Valentine has a resilient spirit to continue doing his work in whatever limited way he can, by selling reproductions and a few of the available original paintings.  In 2019, after much rehabilitation, Valentine has taught himself to paint again.  


Valentine has generously given a percentage of his sales to support our cause – we are honoured to work with such an inspirational and dedicated human being.  https://www.valentinemagutsa.com/For £30/year a child in rural Zimbabwe can receive a quality education, a nutritious meal every day and their families given a route to self-reliance. 
PLEASE DONATE HERE

Covid-19 response

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How are we supporting Zimbabwe’s children during hunger and COVID-19?

Schools closed earlier than they should have and Zimbabwe went into lockdown for 21 days – this has now been extended for 2 more weeks. However, most people have much bigger worries – HUNGER! One teacher explained… “We know about Coronavirus, but parents have to find food for their families, otherwise we will surely die of hunger first.”

How do our programmes help?

We are in our fifth year of feeding thousands of children. The mahewu porridge drink is a satisfying, slow energy release food PACKED with nutrients. The nutrients are specific to growing, developing children who require an extra boost to build their immune systems and protect them from disease. When schools closed early mahewu was given to each family to take home… BUT they’re unable to access more food!

In the meantime all those families who have been trained in Conservation Agriculture, using only natural farming methods, are harvesting their crops now – fresh vegetables, lentils, sorghum, soya and maize to feed their families along with substantially extra produce to sell. BUT they cannot take their harvest to sell during lockdown!! They risk losing a large part of the crop they have worked so hard to produce.

IT IS THIS PRODUCE THAT IS GOING TO SAVE LIVES!

The answer is simple…
Together we have negotiated a very fair and reasonable exchange with our farmers – they will be (safely) delivering all of their surplus crops to our poverty stricken and starving families throughout their area. We have trained 120 farmers in 9 different areas and they are now able to pay it forward.

It is rare that we stop thinking about the children and families in Zimbabwe and how we can support them – especially through the diverse challenges they face. With your help and the hard work of many Zimbabweans – we always find a way! Children who are sponsored continue to receive their monthly food hampers in a safe manner.

We send our thoughts to the people of Zimbabwe, most especially the head of households, like Gogos (grandmothers) and older children who have to fend for many young orphaned children. We very much hope our support, with your donations, will put them in a stronger position to overcome this crisis.

2020 Conservation Agriculture training

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We are hugely grateful to Foundations for Farming (our partners in the Conservation Agriculture program) for hosting parents and teachers from the community and schools in which we are working. The training they are receiving here is an indepth extension to the Conservation Agriculture foundation course, and is known as “I was Hungry”. This 2 week residential course goes beyond farming small family plots and includes how to grow and use natural herbs for medicinal purposes as well as larger scale farming – again using only natural methods!! It is through this training that we are able to achieve 3 main objectives:
1. Even the poorest families are able to farm, harvest and eat very well.
2. The program provides a sustainable cycle meaning all nutrition and health needs are taken care of year after year – as well as income generation.
3. The participants learn how to protect and nuture their natural environment even in the harshest conditions.

With the many crises the country and people are enduring, there are very few options available to survive. One parent said “finding a job is impossible, there is no money, no electricity, no food, no medicines available – people are dying from very bad health and malnutrition. I’m so happy to be given this opportunity so my family can do more than just survive, we can actually live well.”

For more information on how you can help us please see this link:
https://zimbabweschildren.org/index.php/donate/

For Christmas, please can I have… a nutritous meal?

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IT’S NOT GOOD NEWS…

We’re going to get to the point – we need your help!  There have been predictions of mass starvation in Zimbabwe during 2020 due to the broken economy, high inflation and longest drought on record.  So we did an assessment, both at our schools and in those where we do not work – the results do not make good reading!

There is a very clear difference in the HEALTH, well being and appearance of children in the schools where we have our feeding programme.  It is a proven and accepted fact that our children, who are receiving a nutritious mahewu meal, fortified with vitmains, minerals and nutrients to tackle malnutrition, have a high attendance record due to less illness, are performing well in school, their anti-retroviral drugs are working  and are generally HAPPIER.   

What about those at their neighbouring schools?  Should we just ignore very young children and watch them suffer, struggling to survive and often not able to make it to school?   We receive heartbreaking appeals all the time from teachers and parents there who watch helplessly as children faint in class, on the side of the road or in their own homes due to hunger. 

For only £10 per month we can reach those children! 
TOGETHER we can feed 2 children every day for one month for only £10.

Set up your standing order here*

Children learning sounds…

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We have had many steep learning curves since we began with 1 primary school but those lessons enabled us to develop onto 9 primary schools and 7 ECD centres. The root issue identified was severe malnutrition in school and at home leading to illness, lack of concentration and absenteeism from school. We introduced a feeding program, which gave immediate relief to children, bringing large numbers back to school and a conservation agriculture program to both families and schools – as a more sustainable and long term solution.
With children’s health improving and much larger classes, the teachers desperately needed ways to deliver a quality education with no resources! Enter… the Redearth Education Developing Good Practise in teaching program.

We couldn’t be more pleased with the results and hope you find the video attached as heart warming as we do!!
Previously these children had no idea of sounds that are needed to learn to read and their classroom was completely bare. You can see now how engaged both teachers and learners are with many colourful resources made from just cardboard, plastic bottles and maize sacks! ❤️
#betterteachingbetterlearning

https://www.facebook.com/376298625849/videos/494259531422110/

Not just an education will do… Our children deserve a QUALITY education!

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REDEARTH TEACHER TRAINING 
Firstly – do you remember when Obert showed us the suffering of children in remote rural areas and our main objective was to get those children back into school and get some nutrition into their malnourished bodies?  We not only achieved this at his old school – we did the same thing for many more schools!  When classrooms were overflowing we realised teachers were struggling to cope with this – again, we got to work!  It is now with great pleasure that we write this long overdue update to you all!
 
This last month we started the delivery of the Redearth Education Teacher Training programme, in partnership with approved education officials, and are excited to be the first ones to bring this programme to Zimbabwe.   
 
Over 2 weeks our colleagues from Redearth Education Uganda visited all our schools and ECD (early childhood development) centres to do lesson observations together with the officials, teachers and our staff.  The partnership worked very well, as they exchanged information with each other and the school teachers, to further adjust the first training module to fit with the Zimbabwean learning environment and new curriculum. They went on to give 2 days of ECD training and 4 days of primary school training to 37 teachers and 3 education officials.  
 
Module one (out of four modules in total) is simple, but extremely effective!  It includes such things as: the internal and external teaching environment and how this contributes to the children’s learning experiences; good time management and ways it can be improved to maximise learning time; understanding how routines and procedures link to human rights and responsibilities.
 
The largest part of module one is to empower teachers with the skills to create engaging learning aids and resources from free, locally sourced, recycled materials – such as plastic bottles, cardboard, sugar & mealie sacks, clay and straw.
 
These learning aids, games and activities are crucial in helping engage children in their lessons and improve the quality of their learning. Here are some of the resources we help teachers create and utilise in their classrooms.For full information on this unique training, which focusses on “Empowering teachers so every child has the chance to succeed” we encourage you to visit the Redearth Education page for Developing Good Practice in Teaching and Learning Programme. 
 
Some quotes from the teachers were as follows:  

“This week has helped me to remember when I used to love teaching”.
 
“I’ve been to several staff development days with big NGO’s like Unicef but none have been like this one – I’m so surprised at how much we have learnt and I’ve really loved it”
 
“I can’t believe the amount of learning resources we have been taught to make out of free materials we have every day and usually throw out.  It is very creative and is going to change my classroom and lessons so much – how did we not think of this before?”
 
“We can no longer complain about not having enough resources – now we have no excuse to teach well”.
 
This feedback has come after only ONE module has been delivered and we have three more to go, along with lead teacher training and Head/Leadership modules. 

FEEDING PROGRAMME
 
At the time teacher observations were taking place we had the second term delivery of food arrive at the schools.  It is very important to note that none of our work would be possible without the feeding programme.  The school enrolment wouldn’t be high enough and the children simply wouldn’t have the ability to learn – the food they receive is the solid foundation of everything else we are trying to do, without it – nothing else would be possible! 
A HUGE thank you to Ruff’s Kitchens, Tamba Park, WTMD, Fredrik Eklund and all those who donate to giving the children a nutritious meal every day at school.

CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE

Malnutrition is a very real problem for people who live in rural areas – poverty and living long distances from towns play a role in this.  Whilst we are assisting with the immediate problem through our feeding programme, it is essential that both the schools and communities are given a route to self reliance so they do not need to wait for donors to give them food – they can grow their own!  This is not easy in an area like this one as the land is not conducive to large scale farming.  However, with the right skills, anyone can grown enough food for their family using the free environment handed to us – NATURE!   Our Conservation Agriculture programme teaches only natural techniques and, with a seed start up pack, families can feed up to 6 people for a year, using nothing but a hoe, no other tools required!  Last farming season we extended this training to the schools and we are now in the process of collating the results – we look forward to updating you on this.

For £30/year a child in rural Zimbabwe can receive a quality education, a nutritious meal every day and their families given a route to self-reliance. 
PLEASE DONATE HERE

Please be aware that MyDonate fundraising platform has been closed, however we are still using Justgiving  so please create your next fundraising event here.

‘Tis the farming season…

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SCHOOLS CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE 2018

It is the farming season again in Zimbabwe and we continue on our mission to convert struggling rural farmers to use natural, low cost, conservation agriculture methods that have proven to work year after year.  However, this year we have decided to do something different – a challenge for 5 schools to bring their dry, failing agriculture plots back to green, organic vegetation using an eco-friendly approach with just a hoe!

The school that uses the conservation agriculture training (provided by our partners Foundations for Farming) to the letter, will undoubtedly triumph and produce an exhibition plot that can be used every season to show hundreds of schools and families in the area that you only need a small area of land, mother nature and a hoe to produce a year’s food for a large family AND surplus to sell.

During this farming season we will continue to train, monitor and support our rural schools and include some friendly competition to see who will achieve the best exhibition plot.  We invited participants from years before, who live within the community, who were only too happy to confirm that the conservation agriculture programme has been life changing for them.

Teachers and parents have been included in the training which will be passed to children and other families.  The harvest will be used to fund much needed school development and our feeding programme so children can receive a nutritious meal every day at school and at home.

We wish our schools all the very best!

 

And to you – our faithful supporters – we wish you a wonderful festive season and new year ahead.

Sending Peace

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Sending Peace to Zimbabwe…

Schools closed early last week in preparation for the 2018 Zimbabwe Presidential elections.  Today Zimbabweans head out to vote and we keep them all in our thoughts, hoping for a peaceful and smooth process…

Updated Website

We are proud to bring you our recently UPDATED WEBSITE giving details of our registration as the Feeding Minds Trust of Zimbabwe and the three programmes we are focussing on in the 9 primary schools and 7 ECD centres we are working.  The programmes benefit over 5,000 children daily as well as their teachers and many more families within the surrounding communities.

The Three Programmes

Our aims are to evolve the education and livelihoods of children, families and teachers in rural, destitute communities and schools by offering nutrition relief and innovative training techniques which provide independence, a quality education and a sustainable future.

It has been 10 years since we started working in one school – Obert’s old rural area school.  It is only through our essential and intricate experience working in these communities that we have found the most beneficial programmes and partners to meet their needs and achieve our aims…

Feeding in partnership with Ruff’s Kitchens
Conservation Agriculture in partnership with Foundations for Farming
Teacher training in partnership with Redearth Education

For £30/year a child in rural Zimbabwe can attend school for a whole year receiving a nutritious meal every day.
PLEASE DONATE HERE

Bridget’s story

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Bridget lives with her mum and little brother (nicknamed Biggie) in a tin shack in a township just outside Harare.

Bridget and Biggie have excellent school reports!  Their mother is very passionate about education and takes them to school herself every day.  They were skinny, severely malnourished and Bridget has been extremely ill many times due to dehydration and starvation. However, she still insists on going to school and on many occasions her mother has carried her to school on her back.

Since we have managed to support Bridget and her family with donations received which include healthcare, consistent payment of school fees at a better school and nutritious meals twice per day, their health has improved dramatically – they are now hopeful, feeling more energised, happier and healthier.  Look how much Bridget and her brother have grown!

Every rainy season Bridget’s mother has to rebuild their shack several times which brings much distress to them all.  We are delighted to report that we have received funding from 3 very generous donors to build a small two room brick house for Bridget and her family which cost US$3,000 (excluding the stand/land).  Through her hard work and her mother’s dedication they will be a part of changing a destructive cycle for themselves and future generations.

Thank you to everyone who supports Bridget and the many children like her!