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Great things are happening!

 

In January Luke O’Keefe – one of EightyTwenty Vision’s cofounders – visited Nkayi to spend time with the project staff and community. On our visits to the community we try to visit projects that have been carried out throughout the year and meet with community members and stakeholders to discuss plans for the coming year.

 

This particular visit was especially exciting as it marked our fourth year working with the community. These are some of Luke’s reflections from his trip;

 

It’s always exciting to visit the people of Nkayi and the staff of our partners HEFO.

 

After arriving in Nkayi, it didn’t take long to see changes in the community from the year before. As we have always done, I visited schools, farming demonstration plots and clinics where EightyTwenty has been directly involved in providing assistance to the community. My first stop was at Komayanga Primary School where we sunk a bore for the school and broader community to use. One of the students shared with us what the bore means to the community and talked about their plans to start a garden to sell the produce for the good of the school, the teachers and to raise funds for children currently unable to attend. When asked by Anania Ncube, HEFO’s project director, how they were going to achieve this, their initial response was to ask for more financial assistance. Anania responded by asking what they planned to contribute. He suggested that if EightyTwenty Vision had sunk a bore then what could the community do? They began to discuss what they could give and in the space of 30 minutes had raised $160 of the needed $290 from teachers, visitors from Bulawayo and surrounding farmers. This is development in action – it is about inspiring the community to achieve their aspirations for change by rallying together where they can – rather than becoming dependent on financial assistance. Anania’s commitment to practicing development in this way is one of the reasons we have partnered with HEFO.

 

I also had the opportunity to visit an elderly couple who have started their own demonstration plot for the community to learn from. The couple are avid supporters of HEFO and EightyTwenty Vision’s work. They took what they learnt and started the demonstration plot at their own expense – selling a cow to pay for the sinking of a well and to fence the area off from stray livestock and wildlife.  While this in itself reveals a deep commitment to their community and to helping others, they have also made the land behind the demonstration plot available to young people to use and learn from – including the use of the well. They benefitted from the training our partners HEFO had provided, and despite the barriers and difficulties, their determination for change and willingness to facilitate that experience for has been tremendously inspiring.

 

During my visit I also saw various community projects, from the manufacturing of bags, vases, hats, and bowls to the drying of local plants and mushrooms. The proceeds of these projects are being used to purchase exercise books or pay school fees. Many families struggle to make money from their subsistence farming and so these new cottage industries are providing an important income stream.

 

These are just a few of the many stories which make apparent the impact of long-term commitment to a community. The longer we partner with the community the more action there seems to be – not because we are giving more but rather because the community is becoming more and more aware of their own capacity to generate change for a hopeful future.

 

After four years of community development work in Nkayi, we have been planning where the project will focus its resources in the coming years. After this visit we are more encouraged than ever before to continue to assist the community in their aspirations, through commitment to growth and change as equal partners.

What is community development?

One of the things we often get asked (or the question we see cross peoples face’s when we talk about what we do) is, ‘What is community development?’

 

The Community Development Exchange (an alliance supporting community development organisations and workers in the UK) defines community development like this;

 

[Community development’s] key purpose is to build communities based on justice, equality and mutual respect. Community development involves changing the relationships between ordinary people and people in positions of power, so that everyone can take part in the issues that affect their lives. It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience, which, if used in creative ways, can be channelled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals. Community development practitioners work alongside people in communities to help build relationships with key people and organizations and to identify common concerns. They create opportunities for the community to learn new skills and, by enabling people to act together; community development practitioners help to foster social inclusion and equality. (http://www.cdx.org.uk/community-development/what-community-development)

 

This is a great explanation of our work with the community of Nkayi. To give an example;

 

In the area we are working, one of the major concerns of the people is a secure and reliable food source. The community relies heavily on subsistence farming and very small scale livestock production – this usually means owning a few of chickens or goats or, if you’re really lucky, cattle. This method of farming is very labour intensive and has been made more difficult by successive droughts, malnutrition and the illness of many of the farmers (suffering with things like HIV, tuberculosis, cholera). To try and combat this, the community workers on the ground have been teaching a new farming method – conservation farming. It aims to more effectively utilise the rainfall whilst helping to maintain the fertility of the soil and fortunately is also much lower in terms of energy output (apart from a reasonably labour intensive first stage) .

 

Training in conservation farming utilizes community demonstration plots to assist the local farmers. They come alongside one another and the community workers, learning from the practical ‘hands on’ teaching, which concludes with a shared meal. This has had the additional benefit of building strong relationships between local farmers (who are predominately women) and the community workers, allowing community issues to be raised and incidental training to occur.  Through this process the women have seen the advantage of working together rather than independently and so they have formed working groups of 8 – 10 women. They now rotate amongst their plots spending a day working in each field and have thoroughly employed the saying, ‘many hands make light work’. They have made up songs to encourage one another to work harder and to ward off laziness (these are women who work the land upwards of 6 hours a day in addition to feeding and mothering their children – so laziness is not an issue). An important aspect of this process has been the way their ‘togetherness’ has shaped their sense of solidarity and is building the community’s resilience and capacity. This process is the very essence of community development.

 

A fundamental understanding in what we do at Eightytwenty Vision is that the ends don’t justify the means but rather that the means create the ends. If our goal is to assist the community in becoming self-sufficient and help to restore hope and dignity then the processes we undertake must have these understandings at their core. For that reason, it is necessary for us to hear from the community what their needs are and how they best see them being met. And then in the delivery, to consider how we seek to increase skills rather than diminish them, restore hope rather than discouraging it and preserve and build dignity rather than reduce it. This is the way real and lasting change is able to occur.

Western Force Charity Game

Charity Jersey

 

After much anticipation we can finally announce that a grand total of $13,751.64 will be donated to Eightytwenty Vision, following the online auction of 16 Western Force match jerseys as well as donations collected at the gates.

 

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Western Force who made this opportunity possible, members of the UWA Under 18′s rugby team and others who volunteered their time collecting donations and last but not least the Western Force supporters who dug deep and generously gave on the night.

 

Without such support, we simply could not do the work we do in Nkayi, Zimbabwe.

 

For more information on our work – please click here

 

 

 

Store

You will notice that we now have a store here on the website. Our purpose in launching this store is to see your donations go to where they are needed most. That’s why all the profits from the store sales will go towards our operating costs. Have a look around, let us know what you think and feel free to buy something for your self or someone special.

 

Welcome to our new look and feel…


It has taken a while and a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes, but finally the website is finished. Now we are able to share with you more of who we are and what we are doing in Zimbabwe. Please take look around, sign up for the newsletter, read our blog and let us know what you think.

 

A big shout out must go to Michael at Meta Creative for all his hard work in making this happen. Michael has been a great help to us since our beginning, and recently offered to re-do our website to reflect our growth over the past few years. Meta Creative completed the website for us as an in kind donation and the dedication Michael showed came straight from the heart.

 

Thanks so much Michael, we absolutely love it!

 

Look him up at www.metacreative.com.au if you or your business could use any assistance with design, marketing, web or print.