A WINDOW OF HOPE?2014-11-19

Ten years ago, Ruth spent six months in Zimbabwe. The SEED project was beginning and Ruth loved that she could help. She loved it so much that she wanted to go back. In July 2013 Ruth started volunteering for SEED, managing their accounts. Later, when organising a trip to South Africa, her holiday plans developed into something more. This is her report.

Ruth and Chris with Robert and Nyasha
Ruth and Chris with Robert and Nyasha

Being in Zimbabwe with Robert and Nyasha was eye opening and saddening, but also encouraging. They took the time to show us a variety of projects where SEED have been involved. They also showed us a fairly diverse range of places in and around Harare.

First stop the office, central Harare. We felt how lucky we are in the UK to have constant internet and electricity given these guys have to deal with it working maybe 40% of the time.

We are shown the high density areas of Mufakose, Mabvuku and Mbare. Houses are over occupied, broken waste pipes leak onto the street, and people look aimless. Mbare is a long-standing section of Harare with unimaginable living conditions. In a block of flats, it's perhaps twenty people to a room. People use a nearby river for water.

A largely shop-less shopping centre paints a picture of the economy at large. As jobs are not available to most, self-employment is the order of the day. People sell what they can to survive.

Within Mufakose is a secondary school set up by a small group of ambitious entrepreneurs with the help of SEED. Lessons take place in a large church hall divided by curtains and blackboards, creating six classrooms. The school targets those for whom the current system is not working instalments are offered for fees; excluded students are welcomed. Results impress us. SEED is currently helping with additional projects focussed on further enabling the students who, at the end of their studies, may struggle to find work.

Taking the road east out of the city into Goromonzi, we arrive where Ruth volunteered ten years ago, a pre-school attended by sixty 4-5 year olds each day. Today, in spite of extremely limited resources, the pre-school is highly esteemed by the community and the authorities have commented that it provides some of the best education in the area.

In Murehwa, the testimony of farmers SEED have helped excites us. By providing farmers with start-up material support, and by garnering help for them in the form of technical expertise, these farmers have become able to sustain themselves and their families. Using a demonstration plot, the group learn new techniques to effectively grow a variety of crops. They also learn marketing skills, learning to spot which crops are in demand, and which are not.

There are many in Zimbabwe who are without hope, and we have been given a window into that. At the same time, it has become very real to us that by giving we can actually change that, that SEED's approach works, and that every penny really does make a difference.

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