In 2004, a small group of people from the Washington, DC area went to Zimbabwe, Africa, with hands and hearts ready to help in any way necessary. We didn’t know what we’d find to be their greatest need, but we were open to anything. What we found were people with desperate needs, needs, like we’ve never seen before: poverty, starvation, crumbling facilities, and even worse, lack of facilities.
What we didn’t see were people overwhelmed by and resigned to these conditions. Instead, we found people who were ready, willing and able to make a change. The only thing missing were the funds to make it happen. Money alone can’t solve the problems, in fact, money without a plan creates even bigger problems. We applied some basic principals; Teamwork, Pride of Ownership, Accountability and Respect for the Facilities. An ongoing maintenance program involves teamwork, and most importantly, a written contract with duties and responsibilities clearly defined. A signed contract from two parties in this environment, creates a bond that is strong and lasting and shows a sign of trust for one another. A bond that will not be broken.
Years ago, and still holding true today, are the needs of the children. The needs of the children continue to tug on our hearts. Besides living in abject poverty without the basic necessities of life, there were few schools, and none in a condition conducive to learning. School supplies were not available, there were no bathroom facilities, and certainly no hot lunches – in fact, no lunches at all. The villages were doing the best they could with what they had, and they weren’t giving up, but they were truly just existing in the world. We set out to partner with our new friends – to be actively involved in helping them build schools, teachers quarters, toilets and bath houses. We knew that meeting this immediate need would have a positive affect on their long-term state of mind and education system. These kids are the leaders of tomorrow that need to be educated today.
However, this was not a “quick-fix” in any sense. We spent years laying the foundation for our work and forming bonds of friendship based on love, trust, and mutual respect. Team Africa became a team that included not only us, but our Zimbabwean friends. Since 2004 we’ve made 16 trips, working to meet many needs. We’ve distributed 1000’s of reading glasses and sunglasses, delivered thousands of pounds of food to starving people in town and in the bush, sponsored school fees, and purchased school supplies for hundreds of children. We built toilets on village school grounds, repaired and installed water well pumps, and restored power to village schools that had been without power for almost a year. Solar powered a secondary school, teachers quarters and as of August 2019 have built from the ground up or rehabbed a total of 23 Buildings, school blocks, Nurses Living Quarters, The Leonah Clinic, in ten different villages and as of August 2019 we are in the process of building a Boarding School for 100 kids, 50 boys and 50 girls at a bush school called Matetsi Secondary School. As of November 2019 our Breakfast Feeding Program has gained a lot of ground. In partnership with the Zimbabwe Government, Social Services Division and the Ministry of Education we are now feeding 4750 kids a day at local bush schools in the area of Hwange West Rural District. We have been asked to expand the Breakfast Feeding Program to Hwange City and Hwange East. In order to expand the Program we need to purchase two more trucks to carry the extra food to the schools. Once in full swing this Breakfast Feeding Program will be feeding over 15,000 kids a day every school day of the year. We also helped several families and individuals start small businesses in order to better support themselves. We helped start a taxi cab company which now has five vehicles in their fleet. We empowered people to start chicken farms: these farmers sell eggs and chickens to the surrounding community, creating a positive environment that says, “Yes, we can do this!” We helped create a Women’s Fabric Supply business, run solely by local women, who sell to other local women, generating a small economic engine. We established an intermediary between local butcher shops and individuals to create a further source of income. Our efforts to help the Zimbabwean people become thriving, self-sustaining communities have blossomed from one small team offering little else but their hands, minds and hearts, into a multi-faceted endeavor by groups on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Much progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. With your help, Team Africa will achieve the goals we have established with our friends in Zimbabwe. Ask yourself today, “Is there something that I could be doing to help those less fortunate?” Please help us by donating your time, talents and dollars to this proven success story. Join us and make a difference in the lives of many. See for yourself first hand and your life with be changed for the better.