Self-Transformation & Global Sustainability Volunteer trip to Zimbabwe
Author: Dr. Molly Madziva
My name is Molly and I am the founder and Executive Director of the Macheke Sustainability Project (MSP) that focuses on sustainability initiatives in the village community of Macheke in Zimbabwe, Africa. Our work inquires about development challenges in Macheke and then seeks for solutions that are culturally relevant to avoid additional loss of rich customs that enhance environmental diversity and community development. Our ultimate goal is to use our findings from this work to develop a global model of aid that celebrates and uplifts those in need. Learn more about me, my team, & our work here: http://machekeproject.org/initiatives/
On November 28, I, along with 12 volunteers from across the United States will journey back to my hometown of Macheke, Zimbabwe. This extraordinary volunteer travel team includes a US Navy veteran who is a Purple Heart award recipient, an engineer, a retired teacher, a clinical research coordinator, artists, a Registered Nurse, a college professor & students, and an 8-year-old using her passport for the very first time! This trip is a lot about celebrating education – learning about oneself through travel-related connection to others; mentorship and information exchange. Travelers will also take an assessment before & after travel to further inform approaches towards the sustainable delivery of services to underserved communities in Africa.
We are celebrating education because of the lifelong impact that it has on an individual. Education for me has been about many firsts, thought I must say that my first ever visit to a library in 1985 became a profoundly defining moment in my life. On that day, my fourth-grade class had a library session and I was rather apprehensive. The room felt small, with no natural light – I don’t remember a window, but perhaps it was hidden behind the giant book shelves. Dim light bulbs hung wearily from the ceiling. I was 10 years old and had never seen so many shelves so tightly packed with books, and the unique scent of the room was captivating. I was in book heaven and even though I wasn’t a confident reader, I knew that my relationship with this place would give me more than anything that had ever been taken away from me. I checked out my first ever library book. It didn’t matter to me what the book was, it just felt right that I had an opportunity to read the world. I guarded my book with everything I had, and spent the following days looking over the words. Our next library day came and again, I took a book and journeyed around the school grounds with it. Proximity to books gave me the permission to practice my reading and, with every book, I improved. I recall learning about the diary of Anne Frank and I identified with the narrative of courage and resilience. Suddenly, I was not ashamed of my reading difficulties. I found out that in books, I could be memorable and I could matter. Poverty appears when one does not matter – matter to oneself; matter to the world at large. Almost four decades later, I am most grateful for learning opportunities that continue to open my horizons, yet I am also very keenly aware that many children in Macheke are yet to have the opportunity to visit a library for the first time.
Beyond traveling to a new place and, for many, a new continent, our intrepid travel team has been leading a successful fundraising effort. Because of their work, we have fundraised $7,000 and will be able to provide the town with an ambulatory/medical vehicle, school books & computers, period products for the girls, and medications for the village clinic. In addition to the material resources we will provide, we have the sense that the time we will spend with the people of Macheke will be all-around transformational and an incubator for inspiring global friendships. The culture in Macheke is rooted in the philosophy of HUNHU – an embodied practice which perceives all persons as members of the moral community who must be accorded respect, empathy, and hospitality. In hunhu, we say, I AM because YOU ARE 🙂
THANK YOU to Barry Segal and Tara DeNuccio for sponsoring past grants and to all the generous hearts who have already taken the time to contribute to our efforts. Anyone interested in donating and helping us continue to make an impact can do so here: http://machekeproject.org/support-macheke/
All donations will be used to support the following initiatives that we will be focusing on during this trip.
Self-Transformation & Global Sustainability Trip Initiatives
- With the munificent support of Scholastic Books and other well-wishers, we will bring a library of books & laptops to Macheke Primary School to empower 1,700 students to read efficiently at their grade level.
- We will plant hundreds of native species trees in various parts of the community; launching the only such seed bank in the region.
- Volunteers will also spend a day mentoring 300 students at Monte Cassino Girls High School – this institution is a magnet school whose students have received the highest grades in the national exams a few years in a row.
- The Macheke Rural Clinic has a 23,000-patient catchment area and will receive essential medical supplies, as well as 2 days of Volunteer Clinician services.
- This month, we had a borehole drilled in Macheke to give indispensable access to clean water to over 3,000 people.
Dr. Moleen Madziva
Executive Director, Macheke Sustainability Project