In November 2010 we began work in a new community, where we had no connections. This was Cross Village, in Murehwa; 70km north east of Harare. Up until this point, we had always worked in communities where we had some connection (with the exception of the health education campaign) and therefore had never had the opportunity to introduce ourselves with no preconceptions and apply our community development model.

Murehwa residents in their fields
The first stage of our model is needs assessment, so we began with getting to know the headman and soliciting his support. He helped us to select a focus group of fifteen people, whom we could get to know and work with to determine the needs facing the community. This process revealed a variety of agricultural, educational, health, social and financial needs.

We then worked with the focus group to select a sustainable project of a manageable size for our first joint effort. We concluded that growing vegetables (for sale) on small plots of land was just the project! Before we set to work we drew up a contract to manage expectations on both sides, and to give a timescale to the project.

The community felt limited, both in terms of knowledge and of resources, in their ability to realise a meaningful income from their land. This is where SEED came in!

Murehwa 'Sekuru' proudly shows his plant
We included the community in the National Tree Planting initiative and then embarked on some specific training as well as inputs of seeds (e.g. bean, onion, tomato, cabbage, rape) and fertiliser. Each focus group member tended their own plot, and they also worked together to tend a communal plot.

After a short time we reviewed progress, discussing challenges such as too much rain and desire to expand, and revising actions as required. We visited six of the plots and, in Robert's words, "We were so happy to see what they had done with the little they had got!

"We also got the opportunity to see how the trees we had donated were doing, and if they were looking after them well. This too was such a wonder to see as they had really taken all we taught them to heart and had put it into practice. One man had even added plenty of other fruit and Jacaranda trees around his garden. We were so impressed by what the group has done and it also gave us confidence that what we are trying to do in this community is not in vain."

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