Cultural and Community Initiative Volunteer Programme
Whitewaters Primary School/ Cyrene Mission School
This phase involves hands on assistance in villages in the Matobo Hills region of Zimbabwe, where our project partners, Camp Amalinda, are working on improving the quality of life of children, through better health and education facilities.
You will have the privilege of touching the lives of Africa’s children, in a wholly positive way, through building of school facilities and involvement in food programs aimed at nurturing self sufficiency.
What will I do here?
Work here will include developing the building and infrastructure of the Matobo Hills primary school, where thanks to volunteer involvement and donations we have been able to expand the school significantly, adding an extra 2 classroom blocks and providing housing for the senior teaching staff. One of the classroom blocks requires the fitting of a roof and the whole school will require painting and fitting of glazed windows to prevent damage from ground hornbills. Mother Africa in 2006 established a feeding program at the school, feeding on average 400 pupils every day. Volunteers where needed to prepare the food and distribute it to the kids. Funding has also meant we are able to sponsor over 100 pupils full fees per school term, a massive financial help to those children. This help was rotated amongst the children to ensure they all benefitted equally. Although the feeding program has ended, we still sponsor children at Nechilibi School and at the Orphanage through donor funding.
At this stage you are offered a rare opportunity to experience life in Africa as it is known by the vast majority of her people, being hosted by the Ndebele community in their rural village. Chop your own firewood, carry your own water, cook your dinner on an open fire beneath African skies and lay your wary head down to sleep in a traditional African mud hut. Roseana, a traditional herbalist/healer will be available at this stage to introduce you to various edible and medicinal shrubs, grubs, roots and berries. The village stay is the highlight of many of our volunteers stay. Child-headed homes also receive our help and volunteers get busy planting produce gardens and general fixing/maintenance of their homes.
This excellent facility was opened in 1997, and received initial funding from the Sai Community, Danida and the Danish Red Cross. Mother Africa is working in conjunction with Ethandweni and we have become a major provider of funding and support for this organisation. The facility can house 36 children at any one time and the ages of the children range from a few months old to 19 years of age.
Zimbabwe is home to over 1 million orphans, with latest estimates putting the percentage of the population being HIV positive as over 30%. This disease has particularly affected the workforce, and Zimbabwe is facing a social crisis, at risk of losing much of the development that has been achieved to date.
At present the medical/health system in Zimbabwe is severely depleted and service delivery in this sector is massively short of requirements. Likewise the Social Welfare Department is critically short of resources and simply can’t cope with the number of children that need help. Extended family systems, usually a buffer in times of social flux, have been greatly weakened by drought and poverty.
Admittedly homes like Ethandweni can’t hope to meet all these needs, however it does support activities which help strengthen existing social networks, such as education to empower people and villages to better cope with this demanding social crisis.
Volunteers will be required to help with the running of the home, including activities such as washing up dishes, cooking and helping the children clean their rooms, feeding and changing the younger children, helping in the garden to assisting with the Child Biographies…and simply to be there, to give friendship, care and love to children who have no one else to turn to.
Matopos Cultural Heritage Intiative
The Matobo Hills has deep rooted significance to the local communities of Zimbabwe, it is viewed as a sacred place where the spirits of ancestors dwell. Due to it’s cultural importance and natural beauty it has been declared a World Heritage site. You will have the opportunity to work amongst the massive granite boulders searching for San painting sites. About 80% of the Matobo Hills remain unexplored and there may well be sites of great archaeological importance that are waiting to be discovered.
Volunteers will be involved in exploring the Matobo Hills with Paul Hubbard (Professional Archeolgist), searching for new San painting sites, as well as Kalanga grain bins. If new sites are found you will be tasked with recording its location using a GPS receiver, a brief sketch of the layout of the cave and artwork will be needed, and an inventory of what’s contained in the cave. No touching or taking souvenirs allowed! This information will be passed on to the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, if a full archaeological dig is required you may be able to assist with this as well.