Zimbabwe: Expectations vs. Reality

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.

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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