On arrival in Zim, I found that my poor little "bataneye" car had died in my absence as no one was using it. Linda had previously charged the battery for me but it only went once with a push and then refused thereafter. Fortunately I know of a good mechanic who will do home visits and the next day Chris arrived to sort it. Firstly we got a new battery and then he set about a thorough service which was long overdue. There are a few more minor repairs required but I will leave them for the moment but more importantly it is back to going like a rocket.
Because of all this delay with no transport, I missed meeting up with Nick and Tracey. I gather that since I left in May they have been overwhelmed with the move and transfer of the office from Kensington to Nick's house in Highlands. Furthermore, their phones have not been working for the last 3 weeks! How they manage to run a business without phones, I cannot imagine! Because of all these pre occupations they haven't followed through any of the ideas that were discussed in our final meeting last May. Apparently Nick has said to Glynis that maybe Mazzy would manage to galvanise some of those ideas on my return. So I've certainly got my work cut out. Unfortunately, I only managed to have a short chat to Nick and Tracey as they have now shot off to Australia for Nick's sisters' wedding. They will be back on Nov 10th.
On visiting the home, they all seemed well and happy. Regina, the senior housemother now has her 14yr old son Blessing staying with her. She filled me in with all the other happenings. I think it is a relief to both of us that the other housemother Blessing was fired, particularly when I finally got all the details of the beatings at the school. Maria has now stepped up from being a gardener to assistant housemother and surprisingly this appears to be working very well. Unfortunately, Maria's husband Edmore lost his father unexpectedly and suddenly last Sunday, so of course he is in a bit of a shocked state. I've given him some days off to recover. He was the chicken man and now does odd jobs, maintenance and gardening.
Nick has also transferred Rodwell who was the gardener at the previous office to live on site at the orphanage with his wife and 3 children. He is very well educated and experienced but he is not very happy with the transfer as apparently his children were at a very good school in Harare and he is not so happy with the Christon Bank School. It will be a great loss to us if we lose him. Also, the senior schools are some distance away, too far to walk and expensive with bus fares etc. Kuda and Rutendo will be due for senior scholl next year. Maybe we can purchase bicycles. [not sure of those costs.I think 85$]
Glynis and I did the monthly food shop on wed. Unfortunately, we have been donated several large tins of jam but apparently they have gone sour as they are way past their expiry date. However, we have been donated 40Kgs of mealie, so that was a bonus.We are hoping to have our Christmas party on Nov 24th and Glynis has been sending Wish Lists around to various donors and we have had excellent responses.
One marvellous piece of news is that Kuda is now completely continent. Regina no longer has to wake her up at night to go to the loo. She is completely dry and sleeps through. I was worried that there might be a physical cause. When I asked her the reason for this change she answered that she had been praying very hard.I am so proud of her. All the children seem well and happy.
Unfortunately, Anna the 11yr old that we took on at Easter that was involved with witchcraft looks very well and happy but truly struggling with school. As she has never been to school before, she started halfway through the year and of course is with the grade ones.The school wants her to repeat this year, so she is not very happy about that. I'm not sure of how we can change that situation for the moment.
The chicken project which I thought was going to be abandoned has been put on hold and may be put into action due to popular and local demand but with much smaller numbers.
The rabbit project has also not yet been put into action but I gather they have been waiting for me to return before instigating that.
The gardening competitions have also been a great success. Older girls head each of the 3 teams and each child also has their own individual gardens which grows a hotch potch of everything and anything.
The building of the visitors rondavel and house extension seems to have come to a halt. I gather from Glynis that the workers from the Nissen Garage just need a little nudge on the extension.
Our next door neighbour is a retired nurse but Regina tells me she asked for my chow chow vegetables to be removed from our dividing fence so I guess I'll need to plant some more elsewhere, but they do need a fence. The gardener here has also killed my plants here so I'll have to get some more from somewhere.
Regina also said she didn't want our staff talking to her staff. Not sure what is going on there, I guess I'll have to pop over and investigate. Glynis said she was previously very helpful to us when we didn't have water. So we'll see.
Laraine popped up this week and invited me to her daughter's for dinner and overnight. The next day Via found a large snake ? type which must have been sleeping with us in the room. There was also a large spider under the bathroom mat, so nothing changes! The rains have started early a couple of weeks ago so everyone is delighted.
So all is well. Will fill you in the the next episode soon.
I retired in January 2008 as a paediatric nurse and moved out of London to the Oxfordshire countryside, and at last I was able to start working on my lifelong dream – to set up a children’s home in Zimbabwe. Prior to my retirement, we had had a number of meetings in London to set up a Board of Trustees and register as a Charity in UK.
In January 2008 I set off for Zimbabwe to start setting up the home and renovating the house I had been so generously given for the purpose by some exiled Zimbabweans.
Initially, I discovered a huge amount of red tape and trying to wade through all the bureaucracy and rules and regulations was quite a challenge. As a foreigner I am viewed with suspicion and as a charitable project there are a great number of people who believe that unlimited dollars are available. Every step moved very slowly and as soon as I got over one hurdle, I was presented with another. Builders and workers competed to deceive and "rip us off." It has been a roller coaster of a journey fraught with so many problems that I would never have imagined possible. It has certainly been a major lesson in patience, tolerance and endurance!!! I also have an added problem that I can only stay in the country for 6 months of the year until my work permit is approved.
In the summer of 2009 we had a meeting in London with the family who had donated the house. Their son had unexpectedly returned to Zimbabwe and I found the goal posts had changed regarding the property. A number of factors, including the costs of renovations, electricity and water, were proving to be very expensive and eventually it was decided by the Board in London to pull out of that house and to find another property once the paperwork was completed and permission to operate was granted in Zimbabwe.
Since January 2010 I have been fortunate enough to work with a lawyer who is an expert at showing me how to jump through all the hoops and is very knowledgeable in the maze of bureaucracy that surrounds every move! He also has set up a children’s home, with a Board of Trustees, so is very familiar with the problems that I have faced over the past 2 years. With his help (which he is giving gratis), we are in the process of setting up a Board of Trustees in Zimbabwe and registering as a Charity there, and we are awaiting permission to proceed. When this comes through, I will return to Zimbabwe to continue the project.
It has been agreed that, when I return, I will rent a property for about a year until we are established. I have been strongly advised not to buy a property in the country, cheap though it is until the situation there becomes more stable and secure. I am keen however, to purchase a plot of land and construct a village of mud huts. They will, of course, have electricity and water, but it will also mean that the children can be brought up in surroundings with which they will be familiar. Also, this is likely to be a less costly exercise than originally envisaged. We have also been warned by our lawyer that getting permission to operate as a children’s home could take some time. However, as children needing a home and education are bursting at the social services seams, he is confident that this process will be accelerated. Once we start, we are hoping to start on an intensive fund-raising operation.