Zimbabwe, Africa

ZIM02 - Fountain of Hope - Peniel Children's Home: Partnership Reports



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Report Date: August 8, 2023

Report from BHW Partnership Facilitator Following Visit

Key people: Gideon and Jennifer Chisamba

A team of four from BHW visited Fountain of Hope (FoH) for four days. To get around all the aspects of the partnership we really required at least a week and the local team were a bit disappointed we were not in location long enough. We lost a day because of flight issues which was unfortunate. To be frank, we do need to spend a week here some time to get around it all. The best time to come is March. 

We visited Majiji community one day and spent the day with them, visiting three of the 20 homes that have become involved in Foundations for Farming (FfF) and in the church. It was great to see the progress that has been made within 12 months of FoH starting the project in this neglected community. It has very poor sandy soil and access to the remote community is not easy.  Mr H oversees the project, and visits weekly to train and encourage the people, and help run the church services with the help of Jennifer and Shamiso.  There are now about 20 locals who gather for these services.

We then travelled to Chivi, almost four hours away and visited a clinic that was operating that day. Some of the students of the vocational training programme had been there and had done tiling in the buildings, painting and had put the roof on a house that the community was building to accommodate nurses when they come. We also visited a school feeding programme, a borehole that we funded in 2017, and two gardens grown by the community. 

Because of the lack of time, we were not able to get as many stories as we would like.

 

Recent Events

Peniel Children's Home (ZIM02)

Due to lack of time, we were unable to visit the home but there are currently two people and one cook looking after 27 children who live full time at Peniel Home. They also have another 37 children who live with extended family but come every day. 

The home has 27 children living there, all of them are at school. Some of the older girls stay in Hillview with Jennifer and Gideon. The older ones look after themselves with cooking and chores. 

As well as the home, they have started some bridging classes for children from the community who have missed out on schooling and are not allowed to attend school. There are 37 of these children who come five days a week. They employ 2 full time teachers to teach the children. When they are up to speed they are then integrated back into a school. The children do very well and so far all of them have been able to integrate. The biggest issue for them is that some have missed many grades. One girl is 14 years old and is now back in school at grade 4. She should be in grade 8 or 9. This does create issues for her as she feels dumb because she is so much older than her classmates. 

The children do well at the bridging school and when they get into real school, and in most cases cause little trouble. Many of them have faced terrible horrors in their short lives. Two staff members have been trained in trauma counselling and they have been a big help to those with trauma. They have noticed a big change in their behaviour since getting help. Nine of the students doing carpentry do their training at the Penial Home as well so there are older boys around and that gives some security to the centre.  

The vocational training is into its second cohort of trainees. The first cohort all have jobs and are working in various parts of Zimbabwe, some in Victoria Falls, some in Harare and others in the Bulawayo area. 

The second cohort is currently in its second year which is largely a practical year working on various projects. Once they have left school, they are encouraged to do vocational training. This is the third year that they have run this programme. It started out as a one-year programme, but now is a two-year programme. Also, initially they were going to do all the training themselves and hire tutors. However, it was decided after the first year that not everyone wanted to do the same thing. So, they have kept the carpentry training themselves and those who want to do other training go to institutes in various locations. The main areas of training are:
- Carpentry - they do this themselves at Peniel – there are 9 in this programme currently based at Peniel Home
- Electrical engineering
- Tiling
- Painting
- Agriculture – 5 are in this programme
- Building – 1 boy has recently finished and is working with a company who will hopefully employ him
- Catering and Hospitality – 8 girls are in this programme

 There are more than 20 currently in training. We did not have enough time to get out and about to meet any of the current students.  

 

Mthombothemba Community (ZIM02a)

This community continues to flourish. It is the first community where FoH did development work and the closest to the centre. The team are the main leaders in the church. When the BHW team was there it was not possible to visit as there were political activists operating in the area and it was too dangerous. 

Many of the community leaders here have become believers and the vibe in the community has significantly changed. 

 

Personal Support for Gideon & Jennifer Chisamba (ZIM02b)

We had some time with Gideon and Jennifer as we travelled. Jennifer doesn’t share easily but Gideon is open and loved having us around for a while to share things with outsiders he trusts. 

He and Jennifer are opposites, and they understand that. Jennifer loves the children and working with them. They love her, she is a mother to them. She is different, softer when all the kids are around her. We saw this briefly a couple of times. It was great to see the way they run up to her, just like their mum. Tamara is one of the older girls now working with FoH. She came up through Peniel and was strongly attached to Jennifer to the point that she wants to be like her and has begged to be involved in ministry. 

Jennifer also loves teaching. This is a good foil for Gideon and some of the other guys. She often travels with the guys and runs seminars for the women and churches to get them to work together. She has quite a gift to do this. 

Gideon really loves the community interaction and FfF programmes. He would like to be on the ground more and loves the impact the agriculture training is doing. He is rapt to see the number of small Christian groups that are forming in the communities and the churches beginning to work together. There are many challenges to work through trying to bring people together. 

It is important to continue their support as the key people leading this ministry. 

 

Makamure Community (ZIM02c)

There are several villages in the Makamure community. This is the second area that FoH has set up. They have a good relationship with the senior development officer. Silas is the leader for the work in this area and is located in Chiorgwe village. Mr H comes out two or three times a month to help get around all the places and develop strategic plans with the communities. There are several projects going on, they have engaged between 10 and 12 villages. 

Chikofa – we were not able to visit this community, but they have begun FfF training and are into the second year.

Majimba - we visited the community garden at Majimba and were pleased to see the progress that has been made since we last visited. This garden that was started in 2015, recently won first prize in the annual garden competition for the region. There are 106 families who grow crops in this garden, each family is responsible for one plot. This is the most developed village in the Makamure area. It is truly impressive to be in this garden that has brought the community together and that now provides a great income for those involved. 

One of the issues they face is how to make more from their gardens and this is about somehow growing the market. FoH is working with them to explore the possibility of some sort of drying process. 

During the rains they stop growing veggies in the garden and plant an early crop of maize, up to one month before the rains come, as a cash crop. They have the capacity to do this and water the crop. This gives them the ability to get the first maize into the market and get a much higher price for their crop. They also grow their main crop in other gardens in the community.

They hope to put in another borehole nearby and a larger water tank so they can expand the garden in the future. 

preparing foodMasvingise - There are 18 farmers involved in this community garden which originally started as an HIV support group where farmers could get together to support each other. With FoH involvement it has developed into a large community garden. It is not as advanced as the Majimba garden but is coming along. When the BHW team was there they had blight in the tomato crop which they were struggling to control. This garden has a borehole, solar pump and tank, as does Majimba. 

Primary school feeding programme - This feeding programme is run every day of the week feeding 187 children in the school. Parent volunteers take turns preparing the food which is overseen by one of the senior teachers. It is helpful for the children and their learning and is also helpful in the transition period while the parents are being trained to produce enough food for themselves. We spoke to the school principal who explained that there was a borehole 500 m away and they would like to pump and pipe the water to the school so they can have an orchard and garden. This was referred to the FoH team for them to process. The project started in May and runs until July. FoH will run it again next year if they have funds.

 

Support of Agricultural Officers (ZIM02e)

Hdilize Ncube (Mr H) is a wonderful guy and the first agricultural officer. He is married to Juliet, has two children and lives in Mthombothemba. He is a very experienced FfF trainer and seems to have a great ability to work with communities. He seems to have the ability to get the best out of people too which we observed as we moved around the various locations. He is the key person in terms of delivering training and mentoring communities. 

It is essential that his support continues. He travels a lot and is often away from the family for days at a time. This is especially during the busy times, from August to June. He is a very strong believer and has a clear understanding of integrating life and theology. We spent quite a bit of time with him while visiting and he impresses as a leader and visionary. The people respect him, and he commands attention when he speaks.

He gets the concept of being alongside the people. To do this, he stays with the people when he visits, he doesn’t just come and go. Without this he says you can never really know their concerns and what they are thinking. 

At his home he has a large garden as he needs to demonstrate this FfF is not a job but a lifestyle for him and his family. He earns a small income from doing hydrological surveys for communities wanting to install water. This is very helpful for his family. 

Silas is the assistant agricultural officer. He is 52 years old and married with four children and four grandchildren. He works with FoH as the Foundations for Farming Field Officer for the Makamure region and has been in the role for two years. He lives at Chirogwe village but spends a lot of time travelling around the communities assisting them in farming, and many other projects. He is a humble man who likes learning from the community as much as he likes teaching them. 

Silas is well respected in the communities as he is so involved in different ways. He is good at working with the Chiefs and leaders and has opened many doors in this area for the team. The team loves him, and Mr H gets on very well with him. He is easy to relate to and loves to talk about farming and Jesus. 

 

Mtshazo Community (ZIM02g)

The Mtshazo project is going well but we were unable to view this due to the political instability in the area. It is a starving community like Majiji was, with sandy soil and in an area with a river that floods. There are many challenges, but FfF is working well. They are at the end of the third year working with this community now and the people are really happy with the growth and improved production. A church has formed there, mainly of new believers. 

Gwakwe is the neighbouring community to Mtshazo and we could not visit that one either. The two villages are about 3 km apart and the people from Gwake come to Mtshazo to church. The plan is that once there are some stronger believers, a new group will be established in Gwakwe. This is a very poor village and very sandy. The river is dangerous during the rains. 

A guy called Ndlovu from Gwakwe is experimenting with animal farming and using residue from FfF to feed the cattle. We had a long discussion about the viability of goats. They should do very well in the area, and they will have discussion about this. The people there are well engaged in helping themselves. 

 

Community Churches

Each village has a pastor and a church, all of various denominations. Part of Gideon’s role is to get these pastors together and train them, so they are all well supported. Initially it was challenging getting them to work together, but they have overcome their differences and are united as they work together.

 

lots of food nowPersonal Stories

Perish

Perish is 34 years old, she is married with four boys and two girls. She works in her plot within the Majimba garden three days a week. Perish can grow enough vegetables to feed her family as well as sell the extras. She says that it was hard to feed her family before she was involved in the garden, but now they have plenty of food, her husband is happy, and she can also buy shoes, books and pens for her children. If there’s any money over, she buys some fizzy drink as a treat for her kids. 

very proud

 

Muchatorei Rindai

Rindai proudly showed us her section of the Majimbi garden. She works a few days a week tending her plot and is so happy to have plenty of food for her family. She says ‘Now they are not hungry – it has made a huge difference to their lives’. She is the chairperson of the gardening project and is very proud of what the whole community is achieving. 

 

 

good cropCollin Ncube and Silindokuhle Mhinga

Collin is 71 and Silindokuhle, his wife, is 52 and they live in Majiji village. Last season he used the FfF methods and experienced a good crop and says he will never use traditional methods again. He was proud to show us his sacks of grain and says he will plant four plots next season. 

When the FoH team arrived in Majiji they found that Colin and his wife were already Christians and had been praying for someone to come for many years. Two weeks prior to our visit they lost a son, and now have two young grandsons to bring up. Collin is a key person and advocate for the team, FfF and influencing others in the village. He is a very active man and a great personality. 

 

hard workerSipho Moyo

Sipho Moyo is a 67-year-old widow who is bringing up her 8-year-old granddaughter. She has another daughter in the village and 11 grandchildren in total. She was very ill last growing season, but still managed to work hard and produce a good crop, which she was very proud to show us.  She says she loves to work hard and is very enthusiastic about the FfF programme. It has clearly changed her life, allowing her to have food to feed herself and her family.

 

Emerging Leaders 

Mr X is the son of Jennifer. Last time we were here he was overseeing the hostel (part of Peniel Home) in town but has moved on from that. His work now includes the installation and maintenance of bore holes in the communities, and he trains communities on how to maintain them. He travels quite frequently with Mr H and they work as a team. He has been sent for training about pumps, solar energy, boreholes and other related issues. 

real assetTamara is 26 years old. Her parents died when she was young and after living with her uncles, she came to Peniel Home at 16 years of age. After she left Peniel she studied hotel management and catering, becoming a chef. But she really wanted to be involved in ministry and asked to go Chivi when she was 20 years old.

She currently looks after FoH’s home base in Chivi, hosting visitors and workers involved in the projects. Tamara works alongside Silas running Christian programmes in the local high schools as well as running Dignity programmes for teenage girls, educating against teen pregnancy, early marriages and the importance of remaining in school. Tamara is also involved in helping with two sets of orphaned twins in the area. They live with their grandparents, but Tamara helps with their care.

She does not have any support and it is a struggle for her and for FoH to support her, but she is such an asset to the programme. 

well respectedShamiso Majiji is 32 years old. She grew up in the first village that Gideon assisted, Mthombothemba, and in 2016 married a young man from the Majiji village. Shamiso invited Gideon and the FoH team to come to Majiji to help them.

She has three children. She has a good husband but he is away working and only returns once a month, so life is not easy for her. His family live on the surrounding plots. Using the FfF methods she has successfully grown enough grain for her family. She is well respected in the village, a key person in the project and is instrumental in building the church. The church meets under a tin veranda on her property.

 

Partnership's Influence within the Community

We met with the deputy Department of Development representative in Chivi who said he was very happy with the work that Foundation of Hope do in the community. His boss has a good relationship with Gideon and the team and is really encouraging and supportive. Of course, it looks good for him! 

Gideon’s team are well respected within the community as they regularly visit and assist in many ways. While we were there, the local Councillor’s wife was with us and, from our observations, she clearly approved of the assistance Fountain of Hope were to the village.

 

Ideas for the Future

• Further training for the community in Foundations for Farming. This is the basis of their engagement with communities.

• They want to plant a church in Gwakwe once the church in Mtshazo is established. Once FFF gets underway in a community, then a church gets established.

• Gideon discussed doing a goat project in Gwakwe, this is a possibility in the future. 

• In September we will be working through the plans and budgets for the next year. 

 

Current Issues and Challenges

Every month costs are going up and it is increasingly difficult to run the ministry. 

FoH have a good relationship with YWAM Perth who used to send about four teams per year to help but this hasn’t happened in the last year or two. They found this a good help and encouragement, and it has affected their work and income.

The current political situation is making life, movement and ministry very difficult. They just wish it would be over soon. It is very disruptive. 

 

Prayer and Praise Points

1) Communities are being transformed once they accept the gospel. This has resulted in local Chiefs and leaders coming to Christ and getting married.

2) Funding - Hands of Hope is a group in Harare who own properties and help support Gideon by supplying his house. They do not have any other consistent support from anyone else, unless they have friends coming to visit. Gideon is appreciative that Bright Hope has been there for them and enabled them to work in these communities.

3) Mthombothemba Village can operate on its own now without too much assistance. It is a model for other communities. The process takes a long time and constant commitment. It took 10 years for the Mthombothemba people to trust Gideon.