Future plans already! – A new hope for bringing back the communal reserve…

With the excitement building up due to the success of the mushroom project, the Marange community is getting ready to take things a step further. The community in Marange has had a long-standing tradition for allocating a piece of land where the community worked together producing food for the “communal reserve”

The piece of land was referred to in Shona as Zunde raMambo. Produce from this field was stored in the communal reserve and only to be released in cases of emergencies and or as aid for the elderly and vulnerable of the community. Over the years, the tradition died out as members of the community had to focus on making ends meet for their families, taking up all their time and their limited resources.

Thanks to the success of the mushroom initiative carried by the young orphan girls and women in the community, now there is hope that the Zundera Mambo will return with a focus on supporting young orphans. A field is in the process of being allocated for the upcoming farming season. We will teach the community about conservation farming while producing food for young orphans, especially those who have had the fortune of having someone paying their school fees but can not afford to go to school due to an empty stomach!

We are well aware that the soil is very degraded but that does not discourage us at all. There are a number of families who own a cow or two, we have the waste from our mushroom production (spent mushroom substrate), and we will have a part of the land that belonged to Chido Govera’s grandmother where Chido farmed as a little girl. We have what we need to start the adventure!

Follow up visit to Communities

This month of May, we made our community follow up visits to check on the projects. We are very excited about the developments in the communities. Mid- May marked the first mushroom harvests in the five communities with some giant mushrooms being harvested in Odzi.

The purpose and accomplishments of the visits included: quality control, teaching the teams about the maintenance of the mushroom houses, harvesting the mushrooms, preparing the mushrooms for the market and of course cooking the mushrooms!

In Marange, we were graced by the visit of the chief and also a lot of men from around the community. Everyone was curious, and at the same time applauded Chido Govera for returning to the community to re-establish the mushroom project that had since died when she had left the community. They were keen on extending our work with mushrooms to help solve issues of soil fertility and to introduce compost toilets in the communities. A number of them had participated in April, when the project was just beginning.

From Odzi High School, some of the teachers joined our meeting and tested the mushrooms. In Kwekwe and Kuwadzana, they have started packaging their mushrooms.

All communities are selling their mushrooms at $5/kg instead of the $3/kg we originally used to establish their sales target of $1500/community.

We learned that a number of the trained girls have been re-enrolled in school by some donor organizations. But, the groups realize that they can continue with the project when the girls are not in school and new girls have also joined the project.

We believe that these community groups are now set on a real mission, and we are grateful to the efforts of Munyaradzi Madhure, the young man that worked hard with the community groups.

Mushrooming mushroom houses in the communities

The month of April saw the communities gathering all they had to quickly put up mushroom production structures. All communities used what they had. In Kwekwe and old chicken coop was converted into a mushroom house. The seke community converted a tuckshop was turned into a mushroom and in Odzi they got a room from the Odzi High School’s Agriculture unit.

In Marange, the women built a small room using wooden poles from a small plantation of one of the ladies named Loveness Zengeni and mud which they dug up from the hills close by. The men provided the grass and thatched the room.

Setting up Community Projects

Following the communities’ commitment in February – implementation of income generating projects in communities – we started providing the necessary basic materials to get the projects started.

In February, the communities had all chosen to start with mushroom production as this presented many appreciated advantages: Using waste, a new protein rich food that’s much required in the communities, indoors production which eliminates the concern about soil fertility, quick yield and others.

To avoid delays in securing a piece of land for the project, we invited the mentors and some village leaders to provide space for hosting the project. In Kwekwe, Marange, and Seke, the mentors provided the space and in Odzi the school offered us room in the Agric Unit. We are grateful to them!

Each community has rooms sized at around nine square meters and all are built using the cheapest local materials found in the communities. In these rooms, they have a target to raise $1500 in the period spanning April through July. At the end of July, all mushroom waste will be used to start vegetable gardens and to grow earthworms.

We also adopted a new community in Kuwadzana and we got them started on mushroom production as well. Our Bulawayo team has not started yet; we are still sorting out some issues with the team and will update when all is resolved.

Along with setting up the projects, we also started community classes teaching Basic English to the young girls we work with. Hans Van der Mosen who was volunteering for us facilitated the class along with Chido Govera and Munyaradzi Madhure in Seke. The classes comprised of reading from Gunter’s Fables.

December Training Follow-up and Inauguration of the CosmoGolem Project

This month we gathered all our participants from the December 2013 training for a follow up visit and to celebrate the official inauguration of our CosmoGolem project. A delegation of Rotarians from Belgium and Zimbabwe, our partners, and family and friends of Chido Govera from Kufunda joined the celebration.

Those who attended the follow-up session participated in an expression workshop, which prepared them for the inauguration. The participants made their own creations and wrote letters with wishes, to be put into the heart of the CosmoGolem. Koen Vanmechelen led the workshop.

The different community groups trained in December 2013, also made a commitment to implement specific income generating projects upon returning to their communities and presented the required budget for start ups.

The celebration took place on the 17th of February. All participants understood the purpose of the CosmoGolem: to facilitate the expression of their hopes and dreams.

We believe that our participants have found a new purpose in life and now look to their future in a positive way. We will continue on this journey… the journey of believing in a great future for all – the journey of hope.

Official launch of the Future of Hope foundation in Zimbabwe

The 17th of February 2014 is a day to remember: many years of hard work from the whole team has finally culminated in the official launch of the Future of Hope foundation in Zimbabwe, the home country of Chido Govera. This is a very special moment for her and marks a very important stepping stone in the process of making her personal dream come true. This moment also illustrates her strong will, passion and dedication to her vision of helping other orphans.

Future of Hope trustee Philip Bohwasi will open the ceremony welcoming the participants and providing a program overview. This will be followed by a welcome speech by Chido. They will be followed by guest speaker Prof. Gunter Pauli – the founder of the ZERI foundation and the blue economy. We are also proud to welcome Mrs. Stella Dongo who is governor of the Rotary district 9210 for Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

The day’s program also includes remarks by Marc Plaisier and Jos Verlinden, strong supporters of the Future of Hope; an introduction to the CosmoGolem project by Koen Vanmechelen (the artist and designer of the CosmoGolem); and closing remarks by Future of Hope beneficiary and trustee Dumisani Kutywayo.

Orphans training Orphans – First training under the banner of the foundation

From December 1 – 15, Chido Govera conducted her first “orphans training orphans” session at Kufunda village near Harare, Zimbabwe. Since she was eight, she dreamt of this moment and it was a very special fortnight for her and the first group of 35 girls and women.

The training focused on two main areas: practical skills and what we call life skills. Practical skills are all about sustainable basic food production, preparation and preservation (of course including our famous mushroom farming), soil and environmental conservation, water harvesting and management and waste management.

Life skills targeted topics around healthy living and general hygiene, sexuality and general femininity, HIV and AIDS (preventing and living with HIV and AIDS as well as living with and among people infected by it), communication and expression (story telling, art and performance) and community building and leadership.

The young orphans came with different issues, disorientation, and stresses that would have interfered with their learning process if not addressed. That’s why during the first week, time was provided for sharing personal stories and expressing whatever there was to express. And then, gradually the training agenda was introduced. It was important to provide space for a long welcome and share expectations. This was followed by a gradual invitation to shape the intentions for the training and beyond.

The second week provided a more rigorous approach to the practical and theoretical aspects on the different topics around both practical and life skills. We also conducted an expression workshop with Koen Vanmecheln; encouraged reflective personal story sharing among the whole group; and affirmed intentions and practical steps for the post-training period. All participants were more relaxed and able to express even their confusion; to stand and give a presentation; or host a discussion around any topic of their choice from the provided agenda.
The two weeks were full of activities and one could observe the girls and women opening up and “growing” every day. They will take back all they learned during the training to their villages and become trainers for other orphans there. This is the intended cycle and giving-back mechanism the foundation stands for: make them strong to help themselves and their communities.

December training preps

We have started the preparations for training the first 25 girls and 10 women from five different communities in Zimbabwe. The training will take place from December 1st – 15th, 2013.

Chido Govera has already visited one of the communities from where the children will come. The first community is, of course, the village where Chido grew up, Marange. The two women accompanying the five young girls have all been already identified.

One of the ladies who selected and accompanied Chido Govera to her training at age 11 will be one of the two women accompanying the five girls in December. We are very excited!

We thank Chido Govera for raising $2,746 via crowd funding and we thank all who contributed. Siyabonga. Tinotenda. Thank you.

Cosmogolem for Zim

The Cosmogolem is the “ Giant of Hope”! We had the fortune of connecting with Koen Van Mechelen whose dream is to seed CosmoGolems all over the world, thereby giving children’s rights a face and inviting organizations to communicate with each other.

We have started our preparation for building our giant and we are grateful for the support we have from a school in Keerbergen that will build the head and the hands of the Golems for our ZimGolem!

Rozemarijn Center – Keerbergen, Belgium

The Rozemarijn center in Keerbergen Belgium is a center for people with handicaps. In May 2013, we ran a trial mushroom production at the center. Three weeks later, there was lots of mushrooms and all were very happy. This month, we officially agreed to add mushroom production to the activities offered at the center.

Crowdfunding for our first center

Our short-term goals for the Center are clear and simple.

– Train the first group of 25 young orphans from five different communities in Zimbabwe, during the first two weeks of December 2013.
– Enroll an additional 10 residential young orphans at the center by February 17, 2014.

In order to achieve our two main goals above, we need to buy land, build houses, and grow enough vegetables and mushrooms to provide for the first two-week training in December 2013 and prepare for Feb 17, 2014.

The target of this campaign is $95,000 (USD). But to truly achieve all the goals above, we need $275,000 (USD). I have contributed my life savings as the start-up capital and have a commitment for a matching grant. But we have a long way to go to hit our goal of $275,000 (USD). We hope that you will be willing to support my Dream.

The crowd-funding campaign ended August 31st 2013. From now on all your contributions are most welcome on the bank account with KBC-Bank for The Future of Hope Foundation Trust. Find the details here:

IBAN BE88 7350 3353 8241

Your contributions will go a long way!