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Zimbabwe

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Thanks to COVID we can’t hug cheek to cheek

As we leave the SLF folks of Mozambique

Keep our distance 6 feet away

As we walk to Zimbabwe

Beautiful  landscapes we will enjoy

Unique, interesting; they sure won’t annoy

Gonarez hou National Park on the right

Balancing Rock!  What a sight
 

About 14 million people in Zimbabwe               

Sixteen languages are official

The capital city and the largest is Harare

Followed by Bulawayo

 

The name hails from an ancient city

Great Zimbabwe built in the 11th century

Human settlement here at least 100,000 years ago

Arrowheads, cave paintings - Archaeologists said so

 

Zimbabwe is unusual in Africa in that there are a number of ancient ruined cities built in a unique dry-stone style. Among the most famous of these is  the Tower in Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe

 

In the 1880’s, guess who came to town

None other than Cecil Rhodes, man of great renown

An ardent believer in British imperialism - popular belief at that time

Also a politician and British magnate who could mine

Initiated  the British South Africa Mining Company (BSAC)

Rhodesia it was later named (1895) in his honour, you see

 

But names changed over time

To  Southern Rhodesia (1898), not a crime

The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia in 1923

Rhodesians of all races served in the UK military     

Contributing more per capita in both World Wars I and II

Than any other country, including UK.  Who knew?

More name changes did arrive

Rhodesia was the name in 1965

History is filled with wars and complexities

Zimbabwe is no different; lots of duplicities

 

Zimbabwe declared Independence in 1964

UK called this an act of rebellion and ignored

Guerrilla war subsequently ensued between ZAPU & ZANU

Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)

Supported by communist powers, you see

Joshua Nkomo’s  Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU)

Both were committed to forming one party 

        

To Zimbabwe Rhodesia, in 1979

 Federal election held In February, 1980.  Fine                  

Robert Mugabe ZANU had a landslide victory & he became President

And, of course, Nkomo became Vice President 

ZANU and ZAPU merged becoming ZANU

Merger not only unique but fostered the transition, too

1980, the United Kingdom granted Zimbabwe independence

Putting the government to the test

Prior to the merger, you might have guessed

There were considerable massacres and political unrest

Lots of legislation transpired

Not all of it desired

Fast Track Land Reform meant

mandatory land acquisition

Take from  white minorities.

Give to black majorities -

Such was the distribution

Complicated by droughts and external financial support decreases

Poverty, water shortages and diseases

Nevertheless, - 58,000 independent black farmers have revived the gutted cash crop

 

The economy collapsed in 2003

11 million people fled the country

75% of those remaining

On $1.00 US a day were living

By 2008, problems reached crisis proportion

Plus living standards and public health

Cholera outbreak further undermined wealth

Humanitarian situation improved by 2009

Still quite precarious; definitely not fine

An open drain in Harare in 2004. By 2008 drains such as this were carrying sewage from burst sewage pipes and faeces & feces washed out of the neighbouring areas as the urban sanitation system collapsed. This contributed to the rapid spread of the cholera outbreak.

Nkomo died of cancer in 2013

Mugabe re-elected in 2013

Many believed Mugabe rigged the election

Mugabe’s team went house to house to give direction

You will vote for Mugabe

Or/and we’ll rape of all the women in your family

And they did so right in front of everyone’s face

In 2016 nationwide protests to place

 

The economic collapse was a major set back

Corruption, food insecurity, poor sanitation created mishaps

The finance minister said, “Right now we literally have nothing”

All anticipated that population and economic growth would be doubling

But no! That didn’t happen at all

Mugabe’s government responsible

For loss of lives by millions and dollars by billions

The World Food Program notes that starvation

Was spreading across the nation

For these problems who did Mugabe blame

Homosexuals! - Now ain’t that insane?

Zimbabwe wildlife was also at risk

Poaching, deforestation caused the crisis

In 2008, 37million US$ was donated

By the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria

But what happened to the money, no one knows; corruption yeah

 

In 2017, the army led a “coup d’état”

Mugabe arrested and that was that

A new election took place

Emmerson Mnangagwa, now President, won that race

Progressive initiatives are being put in place

Hope by all is being embraced

The Information & Communication Technology (ICT)

Is growing at a rapid pace.  As is Opera! Oh my oh me! 

 No, not the music! Opera is the ICT internet browser

For a minute I thought  it was a cultural wowzer. 

 

The gender-gap is much closer in education

Domestic violence, rape and child marriages still under investigation

The Zimbabwe Women’s Legal Association

Working to help women combat domestic & sexual violence

But human rights always pose challenges

To artists, journalists, and political activists

Speaking of the arts, let’s take a look

Filmmaker, playwright, author Tditsi Dangarembga,

Education secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change

Arrested in 2020.  On BBC’s 100 Women  list

Winner of the PEN international Award for Freedom of Expression in 2021

Freedom of the press is not in place yet

Maybe in the future, but not placing a bet

Many Zimbabwean authors have acclaimed

International fame

Nobel Prize winning author, Doris Lessing,

Maybe you’ve heard her name

Or, perhaps,  read her novel The Grass is Singing?

I could list several more authors’ names

But perhaps you’d rather see a game

How about the Zimbabwe National Women’s Football team?

Participation in the Olympics and Commonwealth games - quite a dream

Zimbabwean teams have won 8 metals in the Olympic games

And 11 gold metals in Commonwealth games. 

So what would you like to see?

Rugby? Soccer?  Kayaking? Field hockey?

Swimming? Tennis? Horse racing? Cricket?

Let me know; I’ll get some tickets

 

Or, are you wishing for a bite to eat?

Sit down and rest your feet?

We could try some Mealie Meal -

Or Sadza and goat offal

Maybe not so yummy

For your tummy

 

So then, let’s go somewhere really neat

Victoria Falls just can’t be beat

A major tourist attraction

Will bring awe, peace and satisfaction

Look at the beauty, me oh my

Even a rainbow in the sky

 

Don’t let this stone carved bird cause alarm

It’s on the national flag, the coat of arms

Even on banknotes and coins too

Resembles the eagle found in the ruins

 

Like other African countries

Traditional beliefs often mixed with Christianity

Ancestral worship & spiritual intercession

Are central to ceremonial processions

 Left is a Traditional Healer called N’anga

Holding a kudu (antelope) horn trumpet, ya

 

Is HIV/AIDS is a major health issue in Zimbabwe?  Oh ya!

Has one of the largest recorded cases in Sub-Saharan Africa

Women, children, sex workers, and the LGBTQ+ population

Are the most vulnerable in the nation

 

Next off to Zambia we will trek

First, a sip of wine and what the heck

Let’s relax and enjoy the scenery

One of the most glorious sunsets we’ll ever see

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SLF Supports Projects in Zimbabwe

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I choose to challelnge the norms, values, and power imbalances that perpetuate violence against women and girls. - Precious Taru, Director Musasa Project

Chiedza Child Care Centre Harare, Spiwe Chakawa is the Director. 
At first Chiedza CCC’s focus was  to respond to the impact of HIV and AIDS through offering meals and early childhood education services to children who had been orphaned due to AIDS related illnesses. Over the years, with the advent of anti-retroviral drugs, the organization adjusted its programs to respond broadly to the impact of HIV and AIDS on children and families. The focus is on four areas: child protection, education, health and nutrition, and economic strengthening.  Programs include early childhood education, general education support, and non-formal education, and inclusive education for children with disabilities (which is unusual here). Paediatric HIV, child protection, health, nutrition and economic strengthening are also part of the agenda.

 

Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe
FOST was born in 1997 to support orphaned children on  farms in Zimbabwe, largely due to the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS.  It now includes support for all vulnerable children, with a bias to those supported by their grandparents. 
Orphaned children have the best opportunity for development within a family group, without sibling separation, in an environment that is familiar.

FOST programs promote nutritional awareness and education, and through the sale of surplus vegetables such as sweet potatoes and tomatoes (which are produced in the gardens)  FOST hopes to diminish food insecurity.  They utilize Internal Savings and Lending approaches for the most vulnerable households in the community.  This has enabled women to send over 1650 children to school, improve their household income and participate in the development of their communities.  

 

Psychosocial Support camps (PSS) have been a success story with positive memories for both children and their caregivers. Digital Story Telling trains children to make films about their personal stories and show how these experiences have affected their lives.  The films are used as a tool to create dialogue and awareness on issues that affect children in communities.  FOST has supported over 5,000 out-of-school youths through the establishment of clubs that focus on reproductive health education, recreation, sports, entrepreneurship, vocational skills training.

 

FOST supports self-help groups, and runs advocacy forums on the rights of vulnerable children who are at risk of increased exposure to crime, abuse, including child labour and trafficking, neglect, exploitation, violence and discrimination. 

FOST supports orphans and vulnerable children in farming communities, through block grants, ECD (Early Childhood Development) centres, direct payment of fees and distribution of uniforms; stationery; provision of sport material and equipment; play centre development; training of teachers in PSS (Psychosocial Support); training of para-professionals for ECD; PSS camps for children, and homework clubs. FOST supports OVC (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) in farming communities. 

FOST has strong working relationships with Government line ministries.  (In fact it pretty much IS a government ministry!)  This makes it easy for collaboration, networking and mobilization of training resource persons, and enables evidence based advocacy around policies affecting OVC.  All this with only 5 Full Time staff and 40 volunteers!

Hope Tariro Trust  26763 Robert Mugabe Masvingo.  Fezille Ncube coordinator

HTT is a charity organization formed to improve the lives and prospects of vulnerable and orphaned children in Zimbabwe.

 

In 2019 they held Women's Conference with the theme "Women and Happiness." Different facilitators from different organisations ran workshops on health and hygiene related issues, child development, sex and sexuality, entrepreneurial skills of women as well as the well-being of people. Drama and songs were presented concerning health related issues by care facilitators.

 

Midlands AIDS Service Organisation Mkoba 12, Mambo Road, Box 880,Gweru,

Advocates for children and youth , with grannies as support. During the COVID pandemic they have been delivering supplementary porridge for children under five, who are most at risk of death from malnutrition. In happier times Midland runs a play school and after school homework programs, both of which are vital to the community.

 

Mavambo Trust   Redemptorist Brother Benjamin T. Posvo is the director

In 2002, Sister Kathleen Barbee, of Maryknoll Sisters, established the Mavambo ("genesis") Trust in response to the needs of children living in poverty. Many of the children who receive care are orphans whose parents died from AIDS.  Starting with just a few helpers, the centre now employees a few dozen workers, most of whom are local residents.
 

Since most of the children have been unable to attend school due to lack of birth certificates and/or lack of financial resources, Mavambo provides them with life skills and psycho-social support. Hundreds of children have been trained in palliative care, since so many of them provide that service in their families.  

 

The center also works with child-led support groups for children living with HIV and AIDS, who continue to suffer discrimination. Literacy programs and medical assistance are offered as well. Nutrition and health education are also available; the goal is that the children will develop into self-reliant, healthy adults who are able to participate fully as Zimbabwean citizens.

Musasa Project  Precious Taru is Director.
Precious says, Musasa was set up in 1988 to deal with issues of violence against women and girls.  It provides relief to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). 

 

It offers psycho-social support from all its offices and shelters to women and girls  and a 24-hour helpline for survivors of gender-based violence, accessible from anywhere in Zimbabwe. It ensures that women and girls who have encountered get access to medical treatment quickly. It provides temporary safe shelters to GBV survivors the purpose of the safekeeping of the survivor (and at times her children) from any further potential harm. 
 

Musasa has resident lawyers and paralegals who offer legal advice and assist survivors in GBV related cases. They engage policymakers on issues of conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives which impact negatively on women and girls.