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

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Report Date: September 25, 2017

Report from BHW Partnership Facilitator Following Visit July 2017


Peniel Home (ZIM02)

well cared forThe home is operating very well. A local Christian NGO has given them free use of a house in Bulawayo so a number of the older girls have been shifted to live there as it’s near to their school and saves a lot of transport money. 

One of the girls at the Home had stopped going to school as her granny had no money to send her. She was bright and proved to be a really good athlete, in fact she was selected to be in the national athletics squad but had no papers. However, because she was very good, the government organised her identity paper and passport very quickly and the Home was able to get her back into school. 

Another was a school dropout, her mother was an alcoholic and well known on the streets of Bulawayo. She was brought to Peniel by the authorities and is proving to be a high calibre student. She has won a scholarship to one of the most prestigious colleges in Zimbabwe. 

We met one girl who had come back for vacation. She is very articulate and studying at university in Masvingo. Her sister is at University in Poland on a fully paid scholarship. So, great things are happening for the kids.  


Mthombothemba Commmunity (ZIM02a)

great gardenThe community is now well organised and is largely running without much intervention from FoH. They have taken ownership of the place and are functioning well. This community used to be known as a den of thieves. The Police had plans drawn to build a police station in the community but because of the changes have decided it is not needed. Witchcraft has virtually disappeared from the area. The village headman and his wife became Christ followers and last year, they and a number of other leaders were married officially. 

One guy we met had been in prison for stealing a bicycle but while in prison his wife learned about gardening and FfF. When he came out he began working with his wife and they now have a nice house, they have plates and furniture and some goats. Life has completely changed for this family. 

making a differenceFive young men were sent to become builders. They are now busy building houses in the area and one has a job in Botswana. We visited a house they had built and it was the best house in the village. They earn a living and one has become a bi-vocational pastor of a church 

Transformation Centre 

What began as a feeding centre for vulnerable children has become much more than that. It is a flourishing little base from where they operate. Some children come for food every day although this is decreasing. This is a place of holistic intervention, spiritual growth and empowerment. The children are growing and taking changed minds back to their homes. They have a large garden what the kids work in, they do homework and visit families. From the years 2002 until 2014 not one person in the school passed the final grade 7 exam. In 2015 – 16 (85%) of the children passed and in 2016 – 17 (63%) passed. This has been a huge boost to the community. They have been noticed and one girl received a special award for being one of the top students in the country. The roll at the school has increased because of this and morale is now very high. 

Naomi has been brought into the programme to lead the interventions. She is a local woman who was selected to be trained as a leader of Open Schools, a programme to take education to poor schools. She identifies the most vulnerable children early and brings them into the programme. This has reduced infant mortality as many are HIV+. One girl recently had serious septic sores and wasn’t taking her medication so Naomi visited the family to find out the issues and deal with them.

Many of the children live with their grannies and are not cared for. Some are with uncles and grandfathers who abuse them. This is very common and Police and Social Services are called in. However they don’t have any resources to do much so they bring them to our partners for care and intervention. They have twice brought in doctors to talk to the children and check them out. They huge benefitwould like to do more of this but it is expensive. However, they are very focused to do what they can and there are ways to help. The garden helps with vegetables. 


The Mthombothemba B well and the solar pump are providing clean drinking water now and later will begin to be used for gardens. Many more people want to use it but they are bringing them in slowly. They have to understand how the system works. They are using the impact of this well to put pressure on the government to start putting in more boreholes. Their vision is to turn the community green.  


Makamure Community (ZIM02c)

good leadershipThe Makamure community is really well organised and the agriculture officer is very impressed by the way they have come together, especially the leadership shown by the churches. They are working very well together. I met with the organising committee. They each have their own portfolio they are responsible for and they take it very seriously; community garden, training, children, Foundations for Farming and others. There are nine on the committee. They meet monthly on the third Wednesday of the month to discuss issues and ensure that things are operating well. They have now been working with Fountain of Hope for six years and I get the feeling that this is really just starting to get traction and mind sets are beginning to change beyond superficial, external change. 

Some of the changes they have seen in the community include:
- The attitude towards education is changing. Parents are now encouraging and sending their children to school and are managing to do it themselves. The children are doing much better at school.
- There is good cooperation between churches, some even said there is now love between churches. This is not the norm I assure you.
- The water has made huge changes in terms of health, for the drinking water and the gardens.
- Foundations for Farming has made a huge difference for both the seasonal crops and the vegetables.
huge difference- The livestock (goats) has made a huge difference to families. One guy had built a permanent house from the sale of two goats. From the three he had been given, one guy has sold eight, sent his kids to school and still has nine goats. 10 goats is the price of a cow.
- The community has begun to work together. They now work on the road into the community and take care of it and they built a bridge across a stream that stopped them being able to get vehicles into 11 villages during the rainy season.
- They are thinking about building a dam in Mandiva as a group of communities. They are thinking of others, not just themselves.
- They help each other to build fences, gather sticks, branches and poles whereas before they just did their own thing. Because of this, the fences used to be pretty poor and so the goats were always breaking into the gardens. 

huge differenceThey are so thankful for the investment in the children, the goats, Foundations for Farming and the water with which they grow vegetables. Last season was a very difficult season. A large part of their main community garden was washed away in a flood, they have not had rains and floods like this is years. But they have rebuilt their fence that was destroyed and are very proudly talking about their achievement. It was the worst year for floods but even so they harvested much more than they normally would because of Foundations for Farming. Those who didn’t use FfF have nothing. 

They are now dreaming about the future. Some of the things they talked about were:
- There is a lot of positive change so they expect that life will get a lot better for most people
- The community will continue to grow closer and more united, led by the example of the churches
- Projects for the youth to give them some vocational training. This will help them stay in the village and contribute
- More people will have livestock, especially goats and cows
- Some of the disabled in the community will have little projects they can do
- People will have more time as water becomes more available and accessible
- Ongoing training will be important, especially among the young people 

They tried to work out how many people are affected. There are 36 villages in this area, spread among three chiefs. Currently there are around 60 households per village average. Four villages currently have programmes but many of the other villages are beginning to benefit. At six people per household, the indirect beneficiaries are around 13,000 people and the direct beneficiaries are approximately 1,400 people. So there is room for this to grow outwards from the existing villages. 


good discussionsIn terms of the various aspects of the programme at Makamure they propose some adjustments and changes:

Transformational centre: Last year US$2,100 was put into this. It finished in April 2017 but the community is concerned that it finished too soon. Many children and families are struggling and the younger kids especially arrive at school knowing nothing. They would therefore like to restart this. It would be for 60, 3–5 year old children and there are many in the community. They see it as important as it is an opportunity to address many child care issues in the community and pick up a lot of issues in the lives of the children early on. 

The point of this was very graphically revealed to us on the last day in Makamure. We were walking home from visiting a farmer having seen his great crop and goats. As we wandered through the bush a spectre emerged on the track in front of us. This little waif appeared, hauntingly thin and dressed in an old t-shirt. We couldn’t tell if it was a male or female until we were told she was a little girl. She had a vacant look in her eyes and smiled warily. They told us the story of how the mother died and the father, who was a church leader, went off with another woman and then another and abandoned his five children. The oldest is now 13 and this little mite was 5, the youngest. The 13 year old was the head of the house but was at school all day so no one got any food. This little one obviously had not eaten much, ever. If she weighed 15 kg I would be very surprised.

They were getting food delivered to them but since the transformation centre had stopped in April no one was following up apart from giving them some food. No one visited or ensured that they were eating the food or there was basic care happening. I encouraged them to care for people, not to just have committee meetings! We had some biscuits and water and Helen gave them to the child who acted like a frightened little animal. It still haunts me!

Education: They want to continue this for another year as this was a particularly difficult year with all the rain. However I have told them that we would expect this budget to come down as people start to increase income with the gardens, the Foundations for Farming and the goat project. The other side of this issue is that there are a number of families (six) that are child headed and they are not able to generate funds. 

Foundations for Farming: This continues to be a vital component of the development. The gardens there are truly impressive with more than 1 ha being cultivated by 105 families. Last year much of the garden was devastated by a large flood, the worst in living memory, that swept the fence way and many gardens. But they have recovered. 

The water tank and stand and borehole are a huge benefit to them and they are so proud of what is going on. One lady was harvesting kale when we visited. She gets about $2 per day from sales to a local school – the government has told schools they have to start feeding children! Her life and that of her family has totally changed. The young people are starting to think it’s not so bad to stay in the village. 

There is an issue of overproduction starting to develop in this area with all the vegetable being grown. Mr H (agriculture officer) is starting to think about options for marketing and drying vegetables so a proposal for the start-up of a small business may come our way sometime in the future. 


gardens are flourishing

Mandiva Community (ZIM02d)

The borehole and solar pump is working well and the gardens are flourishing. Every gardener very proudly showed off their garden to us and told stories of how their lives have changed. They also showed us their chickens and small animals. Even though this has been going for a short time, there is great change going on. The community is well organised as we saw from the meeting we had with them. They told stories that they are happy and much healthier. They are able to pay school fees and do not have debts with people. One lady treats the chickens like her babies. Some have large flocks and are very proud. The Foundations for Farming methods are making a huge impact alongside the vegetables and chickens. 

valued animalsThere are not huge amounts of water in the borehole so they have to manage it carefully. There is another old borehole in the village which they will renovate sometime in the future. This village is the home place of Gideon and his mother lives there.

They want to commence a youth club in the village as there is little for the young people to do. They will also put in a maize mill as they have to walk 2 kms to get their maize ground into flour. There is one person capable of running the mill. 


Personal Support - Gideon and Jennifer (ZIM02b)

great coupleGideon and Jennifer are doing well although very busy. Having the support of the agriculture officer has removed a lot of pressure from them. They are able to give more time to supporting the team and assisting with dealing with the leaders of communities. 

The political situation is making life very difficult. They sometimes have to line up for hours to get a small amount of money from the bank. Sometimes it might be only $20, sometimes nothing, so they waste a lot of time. The church in town that was supporting them has run into financial trouble and has stopped supporting them. Our support began at a crucial time and they are very thankful and encouraged. 

Jennifer spends a lot of time trying to get identity papers for the children. This is a major issue for children as they are not allowed to start school without them. They have a friendly paralegal person who assists them with this but it’s very time consuming and expensive and they cannot cope with more than two at a time. The government officials see this as an opportunity to make money and make things as complicated as possible. The relatives of one boy who has no parents or papers conspired with a government official to have the ownership of the house transferred to his name. The boy had been living in South Africa when his parents died so he had no papers and was brought to live with his relatives. Even though they owned a house they attempted to steal the boy’s house. It took years of court battles to get it sorted in favour of the child. 

They also advocate for the communities to the various authorities. This is so important as local community leaders have been disempowered and have no one to talk to or ways to talk to the right people. They want to multiply themselves slowly and build relationships with key people. This is very important. 


Personal Support - Agriculture Officer - Hidliza Ncube (Mr H) (ZIM02e)

great guyMr H is an engaging guy and very passionate about seeing communities develop. After leaving school he worked for 10 years on a mushroom farm in Bulawayo becoming the manager. The farm has not been able to survive the economic situation in Zimbabwe. He then worked on a farm that raised pigs and chickens. 

Following that he trained in Foundations for Farming in Harare and worked for another Christian organization, Turning Matabeleland Green, which is developing young people to become farmers and grow crops. Through his church he became interested in Foundations for Farming and developed a passion to see people develop. In 2008 he began getting involved in Fountain of Hope as a volunteer. 

In 2016 the financial support from BHW kicked in and he was taken on full-time to work with communities. He is very thankful for the support and loves his work. This is a very challenging country and it is very difficult to live and do ministry. Many people from Zimbabwe, including most of his family, have left the country and he was planning to leave as well but he decided to stay for the sake of the people he wants to work with. 

He enjoys working with the people in the villages, especially the village in Makamure. He loves the training and encouraging and seeing the change that emerges from his work. He loves his team and gets a lot of support from them. Being away regularly from home is a real challenge, especially with the children, but the team helps and supports him and his wife. 

Many people when they first start the training are expecting a handout. It takes a lot of work to bring about change of mind set. But attitudes do change slowly. Spiritual growth is evident with much more joy, praying and singing. Giving has gone up and there is less begging in the community. He lives to see more people able to sustain their families. He encourages people to be different to the others in the community and would love to see many more people involved. 

He would love to see solar driers put into communities, especially the very rural ones far from population centres. There is a lot of waste and only limited potential for production. The driers would make it possible to preserve the greens and develop markets and grow a lot more produce. He is going to research this and what it could look like. There is potential for a little business in this. 


Ideas for the Future

Different communities are calling them for help and they want to continue doing this. This process is a very visible way to present Christ to whole communities and is powerfully effective. People are coming to Christ, many of the headmen are becoming believers. They are overtly Christian in their approach and there is little resistance to the gospel when delivered this way. 

There are two villages in particular they want to engage with:
Chirogwe village: We visited this village and stayed the night. It is very remote and arid. Someone has put in a new borehole and they want to maximise that by doing the Foundations for Farming training and to put in a chicken project. There is a church of about 80 people in the area and the people are pretty poor. They don’t want to put in a Transformation Centre until they know the situation better or just do it because it’s worked in other places. There is a potential dam restoration next year they are starting to explore. 

Mtshazo village: This is a village in a new area, about 85 kms to the south of Mthombothemba. There is no church there but a strong invitation. Mr H and Naomi have visited and scoped it out. Last year it flooded badly in the south of the country, except for this village! However, a river bed runs through the area and every year they get flash floods and lose kids in the river. The river is between where they live and the school so they want to start a preschool with a teacher for the young children until they are old enough to go to school safely. This would be about 30 children. Along with this they want to train 25 families with FfF methods.  



These guys are pretty onto it and their approach is very impressive. The impact is really starting to bite and see deep change occurring. There is still a long way to go though in the villages they are working on and many others that are crying out for assistance. 

The issue for us will be, can we sustain the growth. There is an ongoing journey here for a long time and they want to keep increasing it.