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.