Day 20 & 21: Water at Hwata.

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.1

(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.

Some of the students, assembled for morning prayer.

Some of the students, assembled for morning prayer.

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?

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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.

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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.

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For hours.

And hours.

We hit sand and rock and other things that threatened the borehole.

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It took SO long, that we ended up having to send the kids back to class.

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But eventually, we saw the prettiest mud fly out of the earth.

Vura! Vura! Vura! I yelled in my broken Shona.

Water.

We finally hit the water.

This looks like mud. But it signified that we didn't need to drill deeper - we hit the water! :)

This looks like mud.
But it signified that we didn’t need to drill deeper – we 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,

Vimbo

Day 14-19: The Good, the Bad, the Incredibly Rough, & the Realization That God is Still Awesome.

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:

  1. 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! 🙂
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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I was shocked to find out that a family as big as 7 people live in homes like this.

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You can’t see it in the picture, but baboons were literally climbing up into this house as we drove by!

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These were actually the nicer homes, made of mud, which we saw as we drove deeper into Kanyemba.

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And this is the church, and to the right is a clinic. They were built quite recently. These are the only buildings/modern structures for many, many, MANY kilometers.



So I got all overwhelmed and weepy.

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.

The men of the village came to help ADRA finish setting up the borehole. Watching them do this on Thursday made me excited for OUR drilling on Friday :-)

The men of the village came to help ADRA finish setting up the borehole. Watching them do this on Thursday made me excited for OUR drilling on Friday 🙂

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.

This is me by the Zambezi. You can actually see Zambia - I'm pointing to it!

This is me by the Zambezi. You can actually see Zambia – I’m pointing to it!

"Uncle" and I, by the river. So, there are definitely crocodiles in there, and we heard hippos nearby!

“Uncle” and I, by the river. So, there are definitely crocodiles in there, and we heard hippos nearby!

Cora, "Uncle", and our driver.

Cora, “Uncle”, and our driver.

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 survived.

 

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,

Vimbo

Day 11, 12, & 13: Lions and Zebras and Giraffes, oh my!

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“Uncle” interviewed me again this week, and I think I’m beginning to really enjoy encouraging young people to get involved in helping their community! 🙂

Sabbath was wonderful yesterday!

My lovely friend Cora and her family had us over for lunch.

We went to a different church, Avondale, and I was able to encourage the youth to “take a step of faith” and say yes to God!

My life is proof that when you say “yes” to God, He will take you to incredible places, and in the process, your journey will be a blessing to others and yourself.

I am so excited – this week we’ll finally be digging the borehole well, and I’ll get to meet the community that will be benefiting from this project.

Please pray that everything goes smoothly, that we have safe travels (it’s over 4 hours out of the city), and that we can do all that we plan to do!

Also – – it isn’t too late to donate to the cause! While we have enough to dig the borehole, it’d be cool if we could really renovate the school and make it usable. Some classrooms don’t even have walls. I’ll post pictures this week, so you’ll be able to see what I mean 🙂

 

Sunday Adventures…

Ok, so in Zimbabwe (as it is in America) you have to pay to see the lions.

People don’t own them as pets.

Kids don’t play with lions at recess 😛

 

So now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, I had a really exciting afternoon.

My “Uncle” took me to the lion park here in Harare, and we got to see all these cool animals!

 

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not the most…comfortable when it comes to animals. I have an extreme phobia of dogs, I’m kinda ok with cats, but I love horses. Weird? I know.

 

Anyway, below are the pictures that PROVE that I faced my fears today and got up close and personal with these furry friends 🙂

 

This was the first we saw of the lions...I felt comforted by the wire fence!

This was the first we saw of the lions…I felt comforted by the wire fence!

Female lions. Now there were no more fences to protect us!

Female lions. Now there were no more fences to protect us!

This lion was pacing in front of our car, back and forth!

This lion was pacing in front of our car, back and forth!

There was a place we could get out and walk by baby lions...it was still scary!

There was a place we could get out and walk by baby lions…it was still scary!

The things that we do  just for a cool picture :-P

The things that we do just for a cool picture 😛

Close call!

Close call! The lion started moving toward me, and that flimsy fence didn’t comfort me!

The giraffe was so close, I could've walked over and petted it. No fences!

The giraffe was so close, I could’ve walked over and petted it. No fences!

300 year old turtle!

300 year old turtle!

And last but not least, the zebra! It was soooooo close! :)

And last but not least, the zebra! It was soooooo close! 🙂

 

Blessings & peace,

and HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD!!!! 🙂

Vimbo

Day 9 & 10: A Trip To The Flea Market & Tea With Cora

So, the great part thing about my mission trip is that since I’m here for 3-weeks, sometimes I get a little bit of time to just relax! I video-chatted with my nephew back home in the states today, and I had some time to catch up on writing notes about all that I have seen and learned.

The mission still remains! And you can still donate to help:

1. Help rebuild a school (Whata Secondary School) in rural eastern Zimbabwe

2. Dig a borehole (well for water) close to this school

3. Aid several specific ADRA Zimbabwe programs that were in need of funding

Next week, we’ll be really intensely working on goals # 1 & 2! You can read my last blog to learn more about goal #3.

 

A Visit From An Old Friend

This is Cora and I, back in 2012 at Andrews :) Our friendship has lasted!

This is Cora and I, back in 2012 at Andrews 🙂 Our friendship has lasted!

Cora and I met in college, back at Andrews. Back then, she and I just talked about coming to Zimbabwe, like it was a dream. She is an American-born-Zimbabwe, and I am a Zimbabwean-born-American. We also both happen to be teachers! So we bonded pretty quickly, and I find that she and I both understand the two distinctly different worlds/cultures that we both find ourselves caught between!

Anyway, today, I woke up not feeling great, so I decided to stay in bed a little bit longer.

I decided to text Cora, since (by another wonderful miracle of timing) she also happens to be in Zimbabwe, visiting her family.

She and I had a lovely day catching up together!

Sometimes, it’s just nice to see a familiar face in a different place, you know what I mean? 🙂

A lot of amazing things to see. All handmade.

A lot of amazing things to see. All handmade.

I just wanted to get everything...but we just window shopped.

I just wanted to get everything…but we just window shopped.

This elephant mask was hand beaded! And beautiful :)

This elephant mask was hand beaded! And beautiful 🙂

Just two friends, being silly!

Just two friends, being silly!

Good, loving friends are such a blessing.

Good, loving friends are such a blessing.

 

Now, I have a lot to look forward to this weekend and next week.

The borehole will be drilled – – next week! I’m just so so SO excited that we have enough money to do at least that before I leave.

We will repair as much of the Secondary School as possible, but at the very least, the community around the school will be blessed with a reliable source of clean water.

If you still want to donate, you can still give by clicking here 🙂

Also, prayers are always accepted and appreciated 😉

Pray for the mission, for the community, and for the kids at the school.

 

Blessings,
Vimbo

Day 7 & 8: I Waited to Cry Until After I Said Goodbye…

Guys…it’s been, wow.

I’ve spent Monday and Tuesday in the “fields” with Esther – she is an ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) Zimbabwe project manager.

Let me rewind. I’m still in the process of trying to raise $20,000 for this 3-week mission trip, even though I’m already here in Zimbabwe. This amount was decided on because I contacted ADRA Zimbabwe before I came on my trip, asking what their greatest needs currently are. That is how I determined the following 3 main goals for the trip:

1. Help rebuild a school (Whata Secondary School) in rural eastern Zimbabwe

2. Dig a borehole (well for water) close to this school

3. Aid several specific ADRA Zimbabwe programs that were in need of funding

To clarify point #3 – the programs I’m focusing on are: a program to provide blankets for orphans, a program that provides medical supplies for clinics, and a program called Beyond Food Aid.

 

 

Beyond Food Aid

Monday morning, Esther told me that we would be spend the next two days “in the field”.

My first few days in Zimbabwe have been…relatively quiet and calm. I would say that up until Monday, I hadn’t really had that much culture shock. I’m staying in a pretty nice part of Harare, and I haven’t seen that much that is different from Miami, FL where I teach.

We have people in the US who are homeless or impoverished or begging on the streets of Miami, so while seeing that has saddened my heart, it wasn’t different from home.

Until Monday.

I went to an extremely rough part of town, and I was really shaken by what I had seen.

Guys – I was not ready.

I didn’t even take that many pictures at first, because I was just so….overwhelmed.

Villagesmall

It’s one thing to see pictures, here stories, or KNOW things about my home country, Zimbabwe, but it is COMPLETELY different to experience it, taste it, smell it, and see it for myself. Especially since the last time I visited was about 12 years ago.

I also met some amazing women, who touched my heart and inspired me with their strength.

These women are part of the Beyond Food Aid Program. All are HIV+, and are/were malnourished. The program provides them with what the need to start their own business, selling peanut butter, candles, and clothing to earn their own income and get back to health. The GREAT part about the whole thing is that ADRA Zimbabwe provides the training and mentorship, but they eventually encourage the women to become fully self-sustaining business owners! :)

These strong women are all beneficiaries of the Beyond Food Aid Program. All are HIV+, and are/were malnourished. The program has provided them with what the need to start their own business, selling peanut butter, candles, and clothing to earn their own income and get back to health. The GREAT part about the whole thing is that ADRA Zimbabwe provides the training and mentorship, but they eventually encourage the women to become fully self-sustaining business owners! 🙂

This woman has 3 children, and through the money she makes through Beyond Food Aid, she is able to support her family. Here, she is sewing a curtain.

This woman is the single mother of 3 children, and through the money she makes through Beyond Food Aid, she is able to support her family. She was so friendly and was really proud of the things she had created. Here, she is seen sewing a curtain.

Bags, clothing, candles, and curtains are some of the things these ladies can create!

Bags, clothing, candles, and curtains are some of the things these ladies can create!

There are 60+ men and women currently in the Beyond Food Aid program.  Here is another workshop location, at Epworth near Harare, Zimbabwe.

There are 60+ men and women currently in the Beyond Food Aid program, which operates out of several different locations. They meet in community centers or just empty rooms like this one. Here is another workshop location, at Epworth near Harare, Zimbabwe.

An ADRA Zimbabwe volunteer came on Monday to teach some of the women new sewing techniques to improve their products.

An ADRA Zimbabwe volunteer came on Monday to teach some of the women new sewing techniques to improve their products. Here is the skirt I bought that she sewed for me in less than an hour – – using a hand-operated sewing machine!!!

I have to be clear, our first priorities with the $4,700+ we have raised so far is to dig the well for water and rebuild the school. But if you’d like to donate directly to Beyond Food Aid, click here to donate and include in your donation message that you want the money to go to this program, and I guarantee that before I leave the money will go directly to these women I met today and yesterday.

 

 

ADRA Zimbabwe has been doing good for a long time…

The sign into the garden area :)

The sign into the garden area 🙂

While visiting the Beyond Food Aid group in Epworth today, we were able to see another ADRA Zimbabwe project success – a garden that was originally funded by ADRA Zimbabwe (along with ADRA Denmark and the European Commission on Humanitarian Aid). Three-years later, it is completely self-sustaining!

That means that at this point, they buy everything they need for the garden ON THEIR OWN and they sell their produce AT A PROFIT 🙂

This is so amazing, because I truly believe that best type of humanitarian aid comes when you give people an opportunity to take control of their own future.

When you give a motivated person the means to make a brighter future for themselves, there is nothing that can stop them!

Gardensmall

These gardeners were kind enough to let me photograph them as they worked. I applaud ADRA Zimbabwe for providing these women with the tools they need to succeed! 🙂

 

Ok, so you can call me SUPER emotional…

…but I couldn’t help just feeling so overwhelmed yet inspired, helpless yet hopeful, and saddened yet optimistic by what I’ve seen so far.

Pictures can’t capture all the things I’ve seen and heard in the past two days.

It’s a lot.

So yes, I shed a tear or two, after I got back to the ADRA vehicle. It was just a lot to take in.

And I haven’t even seen the community where we’re digging the well yet….

(Which apparently is in an even more impoverished area).

Needless to say, it’s become clear to me that I’m not here to save the world – I’m here to listen, learn, show the love to God to every man, woman, and child I meet, and just to take it all in.

 

Blessings & peace,

Vimbo

Day 5 & 6: Sabata rakanaka

Sabbath was beautiful and today has been really relaxing!

Just a heads up – I’ve got a full week ahead of me, so I may not update again until the end of the week.

Here are highlights from my first Sabbath of my trip:

  • We went to church here in Harare. I shared my “mission story” during both Sabbath School & Divine Service 🙂
  • The church members here (in the city/Harare) are very interested in helping the mission to rebuild the school!
  • Later in the day, we returned to church for the afternoon program.
  • I slipped out of the adult program and joined the children in their class outside….and made some new friends 🙂

I’ll tell the story of what happened yesterday through pictures:

Mt. Pleasant Church in Harare :)

Mt. Pleasant Church in Harare 🙂

This was "Uncle" interviewing me during church. I'm excited by the response here at the church in Harare - before we left church a man told us he wants to donate all the money/resources we need so that there to be Internet at the school we are rebuilding (since there are a few computers we have so far). Later this week I'll visit the school site and upload pictures!

This was “Uncle” interviewing me during church. I’m excited by the response here at the church in Harare – before we left church a man told us he wants to donate all the money/resources we need so that there to be Internet at the school we are rebuilding (since there are a few computers we have so far). Later this week I’ll visit the school site and upload pictures!

Kim is so cute and sweet and has been a wonderful friend I've made since coming here :)

Kim is so cute and sweet and has been a wonderful friend I’ve made since coming here 🙂

These boys rang the bell - indicating it was time for the Sabbath afternoon lesson to begin!

These boys rang the bell – indicating it was time for the Sabbath afternoon lesson to begin!

I slipped out of the adult Sabbath afternoon program to join the joyful kids :)

I slipped out of the adult Sabbath afternoon program to join the joyful kids 🙂

They were busy, learning about Jesus' miracles :)

They were busy, learning about Jesus’ miracles 🙂

Mutipaishe and Layla. I told Layla that I had a best friend named Leila. Layla said, "I know" :) I guess now I have 2 :)

Mutipaishe and Layla.
I told Layla that I had a best friend named Leila.
Layla said, “I know” 🙂
I guess now I have 2 🙂

"One more, one more!"

“One more, one more!”