We’ve got 3 weeks left in our school year. So many exciting things! We’ve got virtual graduation celebrations planned, end of the year wrap-ups, and other plans.
On another note, I’ve been looking into awesome people already doing many things I’d like to do more of:
This is such an awesome organization. I’ve seen their work up close. The number one thing I appreciate about ADRA Zimbabwe is their goal is to empower the people they help. When I visited a couple years back, they were doing amazing work of teaching some people to create candles, peanut butter, and other things to sell. That way, once the people learned the trades, they were better able to support themselves and their families. Incredible.
I love the model of empowering a community, to empower a school. My ideal model of the future school I will build will be one that is connected to the community in intentional ways. Classes during the day for students, evening classes for parents for different trades and skills.
KrochetKids was founded by a group of Californian guys.
I’ll keep exploring, and keep getting inspired 🙂
I have been going at breakneck speed for like 6ish/7 weeks now.
It’s bad when NOT feeling like you’re going to pass out is the new “relaxed”.
That being said, I sometimes say, I know when I’m at a good pace when I take time to indulge in a podcast episode. Not an audiobook (which I love – but aren’t really my idea of leisure), not Netflix (which is my version of numbing my brain), no, podcasts are literally my JAM. Love them. Looooove them.
That being said, yesterday and today, I listened to “How I Built This”. Both episodes really got my attention. You may argue a podcast is like an audiobook, meh.
I just know, hearing about how other founders got their start – whether it’s in business, social entrepreneurship, or nonprofit work, lights a fire inside of me.
Anyway, the weekend is coming! Yay!
Back in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019, I planned several small and big projects in Zimbabwe.
Re-winding for those of you who don’t know much about me, HI! I’m Vimbo! I’m a Zimbabwean-American an educator, and I spend my days leading an elementary school as a Principal in America. It’s really a lot of communicating with people, asking what they need, making sure students’ needs are being met, and OH, of course, VIDEO meetings (thanks Zoom and Microsoft Teams).
I grew up here, but in 2014 when I graduated from college, my heart really wanted to make a difference, specifically in education, in my birth country of Zimbabwe.
And then, I was 23 years old when I did my first solo international trip, fundraised for money to dig a borehole well at a high school in a rural town in Zimbabwe. Now, almost 6 years later, I’m itching to continue!
Here’s a real recap of things:
2014: PRETTY VERSION – I did a book drive, that started at my college graduation party to get books for an elementary, high school, and college campus in Zimbabwe
- REAL-LIFE VERSION – shipping books is a nightmare! – VERY MESSY. It took over a year and a half, but eventually, through quite literally miraculous means, the over 2,000 books ended up in Zimbabwe, in the schools! Worth it, absolutely worth it.
2015 & 2017: PRETTY VERSION – Two solo trips to Zimbabwe in June 2015 & June 2017/projects at Hwata High School for borehole (well) for water, installing running water, etc. Met and worked with some amazing people on the ground. Amazing friends, family members, churches, STRANGERS, gave over $15,000 over two trips to make this happen. I still can’t believe this really happened.
- REAL-LIFE VERSION – A lot of wins, a lot of really frustrating setbacks. I mean pre-trip, during the trip, after the trip. Some things seemed insurmountable at the time. I shed tears guys, tears. Months of working in the day, and staying up at night to email or research or ask people who KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING to help me. But yall, people are drinking WATER. WAAAAATER. Worth it. Absolutely worth it. (pictured below – the girls’ bathrooms, and the drilling process)
2019: PRETTY VERSION – A research trip to Zimbabwe to plot out what’s next. I set my eyes on fundraising to get elementary kids bikes, because, I mean, who wants 5 and 6-year-olds to have to wake up at 5am to walk 3.5 miles to school?
- REAL-LIFE VERSION – It’s still a dream. On paper. Where do we go from here?
I believe that reflecting on the past is a good start.
2020: Dreams – bikes, and distance learning, and wifi, and computers. Stay tuned!
Sometimes I sit and think about when I feel most like myself, like “me”. I recently took the Ennegram (Test) and discovered that I’m a Type 3…the ACHIEVER.
(Side-note: I actually think I may be a 1, but that’s another blog post for another day).
If you are REALLY bored and have some time, listen to this super insightful podcast all about “Threes”, or “Achievers”/”Performers”. You’re welcome.
That being said, one thing I value, whether I’m a “three” or not, is doing things, because they can be done, and because it’s important to help others.
Those are a lot of different thoughts.
Anyway, I feel like me when I’m speaking.
I miss traveling and sharing about educational inequality.
It is HARD work fundraising and posting and researching non-profit work and scheduling trans-continental phone calls (coordinating timezones) and writing letters…really, emails, who are we kidding!…but many many many emails.
Hard work I miss.
So here we are.
I have a lot of weird thoughts, like if the world as we know is ending, and a new world is beginning after this pandemic, now is as good a time as ever to figure out how to make an impact on the world.
On making education accessible for everyone.
Especially the most vulnerable.
Especially young girls.
I want to do the bike thing! I met kids, last summer, who walk 3.5 miles both ways to school every day.
Of course, now they aren’t in school. Many don’t have the capability to do distance learning.
So here we are.
What do we do, guys?
And by thinking, I mean, going to sleep.
One of my paintings turned out pretty rough.
No amount of YouTube “painting for beginners” could turn these blobs into an actual sunset.
So that’s not the point.
What a weird day, week, month.
Not bad weird.
Like a “what is the meaning of life” weird.
So I used to think anything was possible.
I used to think that I could grow up and build schools in Zimbabwe and fundraise and provide bikes for kids so they don’t have to walk miles to school.
Being a principal right now in this pandemic and helping transition to distance learning and teaching middle-schoolers math online has made my heartache. Because in some places, distance learning isn’t a thing.
Kids just aren’t learning.
My heart and my head and my everything senses are tingling.
This one actually turned out ok tonight. Yay oil painting 🙂
14 months. It’s been 14 months since YOU – anyone who donated, supported, prayed for me – helped me go to Zimbabwe and dig a borehole (or well for water) for the students and community of Hwata Secondary School.
I’m grateful for the money donated for the 2015 project (over seven-thousand dollars). This money has gone to good use – thousands of residents of Muzarabani NOW drink clean water everyday thanks to generous people like you. So thank you.
…But one borehole isn’t enough. It’s a great start, but there is still MORE to be done.
With your help, I’m going back to Zimbabwe this December.
It’s not going to be cheap, but here’s the good news.
If WE (you and me, we) do this right, we can turn Hwata Secondary School into a self-sustaining, stable school that will lead to other schools and projects being helped.
The students of Hwata need more water.
The students of Hwata need a garden.
Perhaps most importantly, the students of Hwata need hope.
I haven’t forgotten them.
I hope you haven’t either.
Founder of TineVimbo Inc.
Ok, so yeah, I just got my wisdom teeth pulled out around noon today, I am on some heavy painkillers, and I’m probably going to fall asleep anytime soon. But I want to write before my brain shuts down.
So yes, I am currently, unattractively, drooling blood and water out of my semi-numb lips.
But, in other news…
2015 was AMAZING!
Water. Education. Building up schools. In my home country!!!
God is great. And I’ve been blessed with some amazing friends who helped make it possible!
Thank you SO SO SO MUCH to everyone who donated, prayed for me on my trip, and those who continue to support TineVimbo and it’s mission 🙂
(Wonder what I’m talking about? Check any of my past posts about my 3-weeks spent in Zimbabwe this past June. Such a life altering experience).
2015 was AMAZING!
Notice, I said amazing. Not perfect.
I made a lot of mistakes with TineVimbo, the non-profit.
One thing I learned is that next time, I need to do things WAY more in advanced.
And going into 2016, TineVimbo now has a TEAM – 3 of us so far – to work with! Hallelujah!
Which is why, this is me telling you, unofficially/officially – WE (me and some of y’all reading this) are going BACK to Zimbabwe in June 2016.
Don’t believe me, just watch 😉
& keep your eyes open for our new website launching January 2016!
I just wanted to share some thoughts with you guys about how I felt traveling solo this summer 🙂
28 days ago, I landed back in the United States after spending a day in London, 3 weeks in Zimbabwe, and a day in Johannesburg.
Since I arrived back home, I have been struggling with what to write.
I have been struggling with how to feel.
I saw so much.
Met so many amazing people.
I felt so, SO many things.
And yet, I haven’t known how to conclude this chapter of my life.
So here’s what I realized. It’s not over.
For those of you wondering exactly “what” was accomplished by the trip, here are some highlights:
-I got to see Zimbabwe, my country of birth. I was there. I heard stories of my people, and I saw firsthand the needs of my country and some of it’s most underprivileged citizens.
-I was inspired by the work of ADRA Zimbabwe, and other great organizations. They’ve been doing amazing work for people who need it the most. And most of all, they empower people, so that they can eventually help themselves!
–I saw water come from the ground, and now a school and it’s surrounding community have access to water. Thousands. Clean water. Hallelujah.
The journey is not done.
There is still work to be done.
I’m back in the United States, about to begin my second year of teaching elementary children.
And next summer, I’ll be going to Zimbabwe again – God willing.
Which means soon, I will have information for anyone wanting to join me…expect it by mid-October once I figure out the logistics.
I’m thinking that next time, maybe we do dozens of wells?!
Water guys. Education guys. Empowerment guys. This is what God has given me a passion for.
And I’ve already seen – with God – anything is possible 😉
Also, once again, a BIG thank-you to everyone who donated to my trip. Thank you. I simply cannot thank you guys enough. You were as much apart of this as I was.
(which means fortitude/a strong hope that God is going to coming through for you…)
I’ve been awake for the last 3 hours because of this little thing called jet lag 🙂 It’s good to be home, back in the USA, and I know that I still need to write about how my trip ENDED (I will do that soon!). For now, here’s a little video I recorded the first week I landed in Zim.
At the start of the new year, I started to feel restless.
For at least two years now, I have had a desire to return to my country of birth, and DO something. Anything. I knew that there was a need – for education, for resources – here in Zimbabwe.
That burden has laid uncomfortably on my heart.
I’ve wrestled with my own inadequacy. My fears. My little faith.
Until finally, last Friday, I saw muddy water burst forth from the ground, and suddenly, it all made sense.
“You Don’t Get To Be SuperWoman,” Whispered God
I have less than 48 hours left in Zimbabwe now.
As my trip draws to a close, one thing that has been apparent to me throughout my whole trip is just how small I am.
I am one, deeply flawed human being. Just one.
Not a millionaire. Just a teacher from Florida.
There are people – hundreds, thousands, perhaps a few million people – here who are surviving a different, difficult daily life. This actually feels like another world.
And there is this temptation – a very attractive temptation – to sink very deep into hopelessness.
Because when you are surrounded by a situation that has been so bad for so long, you think to yourself, “What can I do?”
“What difference does it make for me to come and try to fix one school, dig one borehole for water, or help one community?”
I think that the most profound thing that God has impressed upon me during this trip is that if I can get past myself, if I can get over ME, then I can be used as an instrument to change a life. Just one.
So now I find my rest in that thought.
Just one more person on this planet (that we all share) can drink clean water now?
Ok. That’s enough for me.
The Prettiest Mud That I Have Ever Seen
We stayed at lodges last Thursday night in Muzarabani, located in North Zimbabwe.
(You can read all about the roughness of last Thursday in my last blog post!)
Friday morning, we woke around 6 am to drive over to Hwata Secondary School.
It was a short drive from where we were staying.
We arrived at the school before the students, but they soon started to walk onto the school grounds.
As they began school for the day in assembly, Cora and I visited each of the classrooms, talking with the kids and teachers about the needs of this high-school of 200+ pupils.
They were excited about the borehole we were drilling.
They were excited about us, the strange American teachers who came to say hello.
It did feel a little surreal, meeting all the children that I have been praying about for all these months.
The kids sat at run-down desk, copying notes off of cracked chalkboards, underneath roofs with little holes here and there. Luckily, it’s winter here right now, so it hasn’t rained for a while, but can you imagine going to school with a leaky roof during the rainy season?
I guess what struck me most about the school was that there was no running water. They had an old water source that was barely operating.
In fact, the whole time we were there, the little water I saw come out of the little pump went to the cows next to the school. The water was just fit for cows.
So, we called the kids out for a big assembly to commence the drilling of the borehole.
We said a few words.
We praised God for the blessing of this new borehole and water.
And then, the ADRA Zimbabwe crew began drilling.
We hit sand and rock and other things that threatened the borehole.
It took SO long, that we ended up having to send the kids back to class.
But eventually, we saw the prettiest mud fly out of the earth.
Vura! Vura! Vura! I yelled in my broken Shona.
We finally hit the water.
I have so much more to tell about Hwata, and all that happened, but hopefully I’ll have the energy to make a video that recaps all that transpired 🙂 We got a lot of video footage!
For now, I’m a bit tired, so I’ll post more later on this week.
Time to start packing!
Blessings & peace,
This blog post is longer than normal!
And it’s mostly writing. If you want to see pictures, they will be posted on the TineVimbo Facebook page – so go ahead and like the page! 🙂
I also plan on eventually doing a video of my experience in the Zambezi Valley this past Thursday & Friday. I will also post that on the TineVimbo Facebook page.
The Realization That God Is Still Awesome
So this last week has been nothing short of CRAZY!
It started off pretty quiet, and we made plans to make a trip to Hwata Secondary School early in the week (which I’ve been spelling wrong this whole time!), which is located 4ish hours away.
There are specialists who had to go to “site” the land, and make sure that water could be found where we wanted to drill. In case you haven’t been following my entire trip, just to recap: about 3 months ago, I started fundraising for this mission trip to Zimbabwe. I’ve been in contact with my “Uncle”, who is an Adventist pastor here, and he told me about the needs and challenges facing the students here.
He also told me about a school that was recently handed over to the church to run: Hwata Secondary School. This school was (and still is) in need of repairs, and a source of water, so I agreed to raise the funds to help the school.
First, I want to highlight these major obstacles that God has been moving out of the way to make things happen:
- I was afraid of failure. I mean, I’m just a teacher, one year out of college. I kept thinking, “I’m just one person – what can I do?!” I have very little knowledge about development, non-profit work, etc. and so even though I felt God telling me in January that I’d be in Zimbabwe this summer, I dragged my feet. I almost stood in the way of God’s plan. Still, God has done amazing things with my little faith. Guys – I’m in Zimbabwe right now! 🙂
- I had no clue where we’d get the money. Once I got over the fear of failure, I started to get overwhelmed by the calculations. To dig the borehole (well for water), set-up running water & bathrooms, repair the school, and equip the classrooms, (plus the costs of my airfare to Zim), it came up to roughly $20,000. This also included me wanting to support a couple other projects that ADRA (Adventist Development & Relief Agency) Zimbabwe is working on, like blankets for orphans, equipping clinics with medical supplies, and providing sustainable economic development opportunities to those most in need. Though all of these goals haven’t been realized – I am quite humbled by the over $5,000 that has been donated to the cause so far. I’ve felt the love of the generosity of friends, family, and even strangers, and for that I’m truly grateful.
- The logistics of this whole trip have been…interesting. Working with ADRA Zimbabwe has been such a blessing, because they have been so patient with me! Like I mentioned above, I don’t know how all of this works. Once I got on the ground, I also realized that the pace of life in general in Zim is a lot more relaxed than in America. So, yeah, let’s just say, I’ve learned a lot through many mistakes I’ve made in the last couple weeks. But still, God has been leading, guiding, and really keeping us safe through all of it. And for that, I am grateful.
Which leads me to…
The Good, The Bad, The Incredibly Rough
This past Thursday, at about 4 a.m., we finally set out for the Kanyemba region. We includes me, my “Uncle”, my friend Cora, and our driver.
This was the BIG trip – the trip to where the borehole would be drilled!
I had no idea what to expect.
I was quite groggy.
“Uncle” and Cora were very excited for the trip. The plan was to spend Thursday traveling all the way up north to Kanyemba, to see a very remote community that the church has been working in, among the tribe of Vadoma (the Doma) people group. ADRA was drilling a separate borehole there (which is why our borehole was perfectly timed – because they were already in the region with their equipment, we saved money!) Then Friday, we planned to travel to Hwata Secondary School, to finally drill OUR borehole!
I had no clue what I was in for.
We drove, and we drove, and we drove.
We stopped by a school – Gota – which I will blog about later (I took a ton of pictures there!).
We drove on the roughest roads I have ever encountered in my life.
And finally, around noon, we got to Kanyemba, and I was devastated.
I saw children running around, barefoot.
There houses were quite shocking structures.
I’m quite positive that I have never seen such poverty.
And “Uncle” told us that up until a few years ago, they had no contact with the outside world. They previously were unclothed, malnourished, and struggling for survival, before the Adventist church stepped in to provide food, and now, they are working toward building a school there for the children.
Kanyemba is one of those places that I will forever find incredibly hard to describe, because you have to be there to feel it. I just felt so helpless. Here are some pictures.
But then, as I saw ADRA Zimbabwe drilling a borehole, providing clean water so this community doesn’t have to drink from the dirty river or walk dozens of kilometers just for water, I suddenly felt hope rising within me.
It hit me – we really do have to approach “changing the world” as something that happens one step, one person, and one community at a time.
We only stayed for less than an hour, then we got back in the car, and drove up to the Zambezi River, on the border of Zimbabwe/Zambia.
The incredibly rough part? I got car sick and a headache, and I honestly endured some pretty yucky hours, just bouncing along in the back of the vehicle. I made the mistake of trying to eat and drink less, so I wouldn’t have to find an outdoor bathroom (if you know what I mean), but that just made me feel sicker!
I was tired. I kept thinking to myself, why me, why me, why me! But it was such a blessing to travel with Cora and “Uncle”, such positive people. They kept me sane.
On Thursday alone, we spent over 14 hours of just driving time.
I actually have to go now, but in my next post I will tell you all about what happened on Friday, when we got to Hwata Secondary for the drilling of the borehole.
Blessings & Peace,