As the end of the year draws near, we can celebrate recent progress on three projects:

Having fun with kids in Binga, Zimbabwe, while listening to their plight - Even though they wear happy faces their everyday challenges are insurmountable
The Head Over Heels team takes time out from Emma's sponsored run to hear some of the stories of children in Zimbabwe

1. "Mukando" micro-savings scheme: A year ago we launched our first micro-savings scheme. Since then, our group of 25 savers have succeeded in raising $5,323 (£3,395)! This was generated from initial contributions totalling $940 (£600), which was dispersed to group members as loans to finance a range of projects, including horticulture, raising chickens and livestock, and general commodity broking. With their proceeds - which represent a staggering 466% return on investment - most of them have purchased farming inputs to use for the coming growing season (i.e. fertiliser, seed and pesticide) or equipment such as wheelbarrows & insecticide-spraying equipment. To celebrate their success, the group have renamed themselves "Green Gold"! They are committed to achieving even greater success in the coming year and have helped two other groups to establish their own micro-savings schemes. This is precisely the kind of sustainable development that SEED seeks to achieve - where training and good practice is passed on to others, empowering many more people than we could ever have been reached directly.

2. A tree is for life, not just for Christmas: So far our latest Trees For Life appeal has raised enough for one village in Zimbabwe to be given their own life-giving wood-lot. We know of other churches, clubs and schools in the UK that expressed an interest in raising money for this and trust that the idea of donating a Christmas tree to Africa will appeal to many others. To offset the environmental impact of your own Christmas tree and help enable a second village to plant its own sustainable source of fuel, building material and food, please sponsor a tree today.

3. Skills training for students: 60 students who were struggling to pay their school fees and unemployed recent school-leavers have now completed their training in the manufacture of high quality cleaning products and how to set up a small business. Nyasha, one of SEED's community development workers, commented, "We are looking forward to hearing great stories coming out from the groups and what they manage to start up. We have given the seed to start; now we are confident they will begin to plant that seed so that it grows."

A final word of congratulation goes to Emma Timmis for completing her sponsored cross-Africa ultra-running challenge. She ended up running an incredible 3974.11km (2469.4mi) in just 88 days for charity!

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