Letter from the Founder
Dr. Molly Madziva
Dear Friend and Ally,
How are you? I hope that this finds you in good health and happy spirits. I am grateful for the opportunity to write to you following the unprecedented year we had in 2020. Currently, the Covid-19 crisis in Zimbabwe has heightened with increasing reports of hospital capacity and deaths. The people of Macheke are doing their best to remain vigilant and informed about what to do during this difficult time. The pandemic has in some ways reminded us that we, as a global community, are in this lived experience together. The Macheke Sustainability Project is honored to have people like you to walk the journey with.
2020 FUNDING OVERVIEW
- MSP raised $29,743 from donors in 2020
- Donations came from across the world; including the USA, EU, UK, South Africa, & Zimbabwe
- Three individuals/organizations provided annual grants to supplement the donations
We partnered with a local tailor in Macheke to make over 700 masks that were donated to students who were taking their 7th-grade national exams, essential workers, and patients at the local rural clinic. Parents were very concerned for their children about the Covid-19 risk during exam time and were relieved when they learned that MSP was equipping each exam taker and the teachers overseeing the exams with masks. We were able to make this happen in rapid response because of the overwhelming support that you gave us through donations on social media.
To help the Macheke prevent the spread of Covid19, we raised funds to have 8 Hand Washing Stations built and partnered with local agencies to have soap available at each station. From our research, we settled on a washing station model being utilized by an organization in Mexico and we look forward to seeing the stations as a useful resource in high traffic areas in the community. Macheke will be on lockdown for the next few weeks as part of the nationwide Covid-19 guidelines but when schools re-open, students and essential workers will have ready access to hand-washing stations.
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed a need for a Tutoring Program because some students requested additional learning resources as they did not have access to affordable e-learning sessions. We put together a pilot program that we will evaluate after this first cohort of students receives their grades. We hope to expand this program to all students in Macheke who can benefit from additional tutoring during the school holiday leading up to the national exams.
Additionally, MSP is proud to contribute to the higher education of four women at local universities in Zimbabwe and a graduate school student who is expected to begin her studies in the USA this year.
Looking Forward to 2021
Our 2021 work has already begun with the Feeding Program at Tashinga Primary School. At the school, we are growing beans and other vegetables that will provide over 800 students and staff with one meal each school day. A day without extreme hunger is an opportunity to be more present and focused on the task at hand. Most students walk over 6km each way to attend school, so eating lunch at school encourages them to not only attend, but it also gives them the energy they need to learn.
This month, MSP has offered a 50-book donation to the new rural pre-school that supports 23 young learners who cannot yet attend one of the primary schools due to distance or availability of tuition. The pre-school was started by an MSP Volunteer and within two years has seen seven students complete the required pre-school coursework and graduate to attend primary school. The books will be delivered when the school re-opens following the current Covid19 lockdown.
A priority in 2021 is recruiting individuals to join our advisory council and board who bring expertise and knowledge to support our work through finance, accounting, and/or fund development. If you are aware of potential partners who can collaborate with us, please kindly make the connection.
May your new year be bright with opportunities that are aligned with your hopes and aspirations. May your generosity carry you through and may you be rewarded by a deep sense of belonging to communities that nurture you. If our paths don’t cross sometime soon, I hope that we may catch up via a call to check-in. On behalf of our team at the Macheke Sustainability Project and the wonderful people of Macheke, I thank you for inspiring this important work with your enduring support. 😊
Dr. Molly Madziva
Executive Director & Founder
MSP is seeking board & advisory council members who have experience in non-profit finance & fund development.
If interested, please email Brian Muvuti at firstname.lastname@example.org
More About Our Education Initiative
Our aspirations at MSP are to continue to learn what it means to live in conditions of extreme poverty and how might we partner with a community in creatively confronting the inevitable everyday challenges. Our biggest wins have been our work with the local schools because this touches the lives of thousands of young people who depend on education to progress. Learn more >> http://machekeproject.org/
MACHEKE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Macheke Primary School (grades 0 – 7) was closed for most of the school year and did not host an e-learning program since the majority of its students don’t have access to WiFi. The government provided some educational programs via radio, though it is difficult to quantify how much learning the students were exposed to. By not conducting a formal academic year, there is a considerable gap that puts more students at risk of dropping out of the education system. Additionally, once students are able to return, they will each be required to pay the equivalent of USD $100 per year for school fees/tuition (depending on the daily inflation rate). A near impossible fee for many families.
The issue of water security has never been more compelling than this time of Covid19. In 2020, MSP donated a water pump, two solar panels, and a solar panel metal stand to operate the water borehole at the school. There’s an inspiring collaboration with the local council that will support the school by providing the 200m water pipe that is still needed.
MSP also donated 450 masks to students and teachers who were on campus during the national examinations period. Which came in handy since the majority of parents were unable to afford face coverings.
Our near-future goals are to:
- Install a fence or Durawall for security to protect students while they are on school grounds, and protect school property such as the computer classroom, library, and tree woodlot.
- Install a ceiling in the computer classroom to reduce dust settling on the electronics.
- If resources permit, build a new computer lab to make room for more computers as student enrollment continues to grow each year
As the deputy head of school noted, “Thank you so much to MSP and friends of Macheke for the evergreen and continuous assistance to the Macheke Community. I must express that our students’ parents are very appreciative of the Macheke Project’s hand in developing the future of our children. May God Bless You.”
TASHINGA PRIMARY SCHOOL
Tashinga Primary School has 810 students from Grade 0 – 7, of which 60% attend class outdoors. In 2020, the school was mostly shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions but opened in November to administer grade 7 national exams. The school has the best environmental stewardship program with all the trees donated currently thriving. They have dozens of guava trees that will aid the school feeding program in the coming years.
The school has two laptops and a printer that were donated by MSP. The school does not have electricity so they utilize 100 liters of fuel each school term for the generator. Students are expected to take a Computer Class exam and, currently, they only teach computer theory since the school does not have enough computers or electricity to support student needs. The grade 7 pass rate in 2019 was 61.3%, an improvement from the previous year, but still a number with plenty of room for improvement. The head of school suggests that the improvements may be linked to the 250 library books donated by MSP as well as having a good feeding program where each student and teacher gets one meal every school day.
The school administrators use the laptops to:
- Submit requirements to the Ministry of Education
- Photocopy class lesson material (as a solution to not having enough curriculum packets for each student)
- Work on course agenda and curriculum
The school could use support in the following areas:
- Support for the feeding program by providing seeds for beans and fertilizer to be grown in the school gardens
- A weekly reading program run by volunteers to support students’ reading and comprehension
- Computers for students’ class work (would require solar power)
- The school has 6 classroom blocks and needs 8 (2 more) to accommodate all students
MSP has long served in the role of supporting and empowering women in Macheke and, in the last 4 years, we have taken an intentional step towards ensuring that higher education is accessible to students who would otherwise not advance in their careers. We currently sponsor four female college students who are recipients of the MSP HUNHU HEART Scholarship. Through their hard work and determination, they have proven to be students that the Macheke Sustainability Project (MSP) wants to recognize and support in continuing their educational effort. As volunteers and members of the MSP family, they have exceeded expectations of what the spirit of Hunhu entails – generosity, dignity, truth, and goodness.
MSP’s Two Newest Scholarship Recipients
Erica Harris is a bright and kind 21-year-old who was partly raised by her single father in her early years and then by other relatives including her sister for some years. Molly first met Erica on an MSP visit at Macheke High School where she addressed students and offered mentorship support. In 2020, she learned that Erica had failed to begin her university studies upon high school graduation due to lack of financial resources required. Erica had graduated high school amongst the top of her class in 2017 and had been saving money annually to eventually begin college in the future. It was evident that this was a student who deserved some support to place her foot on the first rung of the higher education ladder. Erica is studying for a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management at Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. Her coursework includes Economics, Business, Agricultural Statistics, Ecology and Biodiversity, Natural Resources and Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture and Communication Technology. She’s finding joy in learning and excelling in her work. In her own words, “I have always worked hard because I aspire to be a successful member of society. The opportunity for education is a dream realized and I am tremendously grateful to Dr. Molly and the MSP team for being true to their mission to inject hope and visibility in a community that would otherwise be unknown. I fell terribly ill sometime last semester and had to be hospitalized. Mrs. Rudo Madziva, the MSP Country Director, supported me and visited me. From that experience, I realized that I am truly part of a family that is going beyond the traditional role of a civil society organization. Indeed, the spirit of Hunhu is very much alive and I now have the confidence not to be defined by my poverty. I am deeply grateful for all those who support MSP from around the world because you are changing the lives of people like me for the better. My advice to young women who do not have the resources to go to university straight after high school is to not lose HOPE. While it seemed that it would take me a lifetime to acquire $500/year for tuition, I did not give up working and saving. And as I tell others now, I was uplifted in God’s time. Opportunities may come at different times for different people, but resilience and commitment will eventually pay off. I look forward to graduating top of my class and contributing to making the world a better place”
Heather Karenda is a courageous and compassionate 24-year-old who was raised by a single mother in the Sonop subsistence village in Macheke. From early on, she has been a voice for supporting others in her community and while she excelled at tennis and writing; she felt most inspired in public speaking; debating on important issues that affect not only her generation but those coming after her. Not being able to pursue college after high school did not deter her from working and saving for a future in education. When she began volunteering for MSP, she was adamant about supporting pre-school children who are too small to safely walk miles to school daily. She used her savings to earn an early childhood development certificate that is offered locally by a women empowerment program. She began teaching over a dozen children so that they would not fall behind in their development leading up to first grade. When MSP learned that Heather had not begun her university studies due to a financial aid shortfall, the decision to support her was further reinforced by her contribution to the educational development of children in need. Heather is studying for a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies at Zimbabwe Open University, an e-learning platform. She needs a laptop to effectively participate in her program and MSP is working to support her with this. As she recounts, “I spent years imagining that I would one day be a university student and MSP supported this dream in the making. I envision myself achieving a Doctorate degree because this is how women in rural communities shape generations. I am not phased by the challenges of scarce internet access or electricity supply because during the hours when I cannot be logged into class, I am getting my hands dirty growing food in the garden and I am filled with inspiration whenever I am teaching my community children. As soon as electricity comes back on, I am excited for the opportunity to be plugged in and learn new things. The MSP mentorship program invited me to further shift my mindset so that I can fully take advantage of what I have, what I know and who I am. I am now equipped to leverage my potential because I am aware that my aspirations are just as valid as the next person. I see my future self as a mother and a leader in Macheke and beyond. The assistance of MSP donors, the determination of women like my mother and my audacity of HOPE are shuttling me to a better tomorrow”